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The Unfaithful Lover
copyright 2008 Ruth Keyes

 

Down where the stream does rest her head,

where secret paths have sometimes led

and Faery folk do make their bed,

and dance there in a row...

Two lovers met and did entwine,

beneath a shaded bower of pine,

and on the bank did chance recline,

by enchanted Faery knowe.

Both man and maid a promise swore,

to faithful stay forever more

though miles part and oceans roar,

no other love to know.

That night together they did bide,

the gently murmering stream beside,

the Huntsman and his bonny bride,

where faeries dwelt below.

But when the dawn did break above,

the Huntsman turned from his true love,

and swift as grey winged mourning dove

did bring her grief and woe.

A Faery Queen in gilded bower,

garlanded by fairest flower,

girded round by ancient power,

to the Huntsman then did go.

Enticed away to forest path,

he followed her to Faery rath,

where mortal men find dreams or death

in Faery bed below.

She gave him neither word nor name,

her beauty brought him all the same,

and to her bower the Huntsman came.

her secrets for to know.

No magic drew or held him there,

but bold desire and beauty rare,

the Faery Queen was fey and fair,

and to her he did go.

Upon the knoll beside the brake,

the maiden true she did awake,

and cried out for her own love's sake,

and wept both sad and low.

For days on end the maid did search,

by shaded glen and silvered birch,

thinking him beyond reproach,

O little did she know.

The time did turn and seasons pass,

while dwelt he in the Faery rath,

five days it seemed,

five years it hath,

while he was there below.

The maid she dwelt in cottage neat,

where river ran and roads did meet,

by day she sowed there grains and wheat,

by night she mourned him so.

One  night her Landlord evil crept,

into the room where soft she slept,

and in his arms the girl was swept,

though she cried him no and no.

For to her husband she was true,

although her actions she would rue,

she would not let her Landlord woo,

though angry he did grow.

Her flashing hand across his face,

was no more mild or meek with grace,

by striking him she lost her place,

and no where else to go.

The evil Landlord drove her out,

to live in famine, flood or drought,

to sleep abroad and go without,

the home she once did know.

Her Father's bow and arrows took,

and all her worldly goods forsook,

and like the burnished calling rook,

did fly away and go.

To her promise she had held,

not knowing how the mighty fell,

for love's sake she would never sell,

what yet her heart did know.

Midsummer's eve in shadowed trees,

when revels danced upon the breeze,

and faeries bold with wine and cheese,

did gaily feast below,

The maiden stood on magicked strand,

her father's arrows in her hand,

her feet trudged slow through bog and sand,

her heart was full of woe.

But as the stars did come alight,

the maiden saw a wonderous sight,

as faeries fey and faeries bright,

came dancing row on row.

Among them there she saw a man,

with Faery Queen and hand in hand,

dressed in velvets gold and grand,

eat from a golden bowl.

His face she saw and knew it well,

her heart it beat and broke and fell,

but true she stood in flowery dell,

for yet she had to know.

She raised her gaze to Faery Queen,

her eyes with unshed tears did gleam,

as yet she stood beside the stream,

the maiden weeping low.

The Faery Queen did turn about,

her followers did laugh and shout,

to see the maiden wracked with doubt,

at what her eyes did show.

The Faery Queen raised up her hand,

and stopped her roving bain sidhe band,

and turned toward her mortal man,

her eyes were all aglow.

"Will you forsake my beauty rare,

my Faery rath and bower fair,

my bed and bosom yet compare,

with mortal woman so?

"Release him now!" the maiden cried,

"he belongs with me, his only bride,

with you he will no longer bide,

your magic will not know.

True to our love have I been strong,

although it cost me hearth and home,

and never did my affection roam,

or to any other go."

The Huntsman turned disdainful eye,

his former Lady did espy,

and though he saw her mourn and sigh,

from the Queen he did not go.

The Faery Queen just tossed her head,

"no magic holds him here" she said,

to Faery bower and Faery bed

he willingly did go.

Beside me beauty fades to night,

he see's me here with mortal sight,

though I will bed him yet tonight,

no spell draws him below.

A bag of gold that glimmered neat

she threw down at the maiden's feet,

"there's payment for a lover sweet...

I will not let him go"

The maiden glanced not at the gold,

"My heart it is not bought or sold,

for I am true, though he is bold,

and to your bed did go."

She raised her father's bow up high,

and looked her husband in the eye,

"Remember when you’re saved, t'was I

that dealt the final blow."

She aimed the arrow at the Queen,

her intention it was plainly seen,

"My love with you too long has been,

now you will let him go."

The Queen but laughed and turned her steed,

"You mortals are the strangest breed!

take him back, my dear, godspeed,

another will I know."

With that she galloped in the night,

and with a shimmer flew from sight,

the Huntsman gasped with sudden fright,

his wife stood yet below.

His smile was false, his heart was base,

he looked into her tearstained face,

"You saved me, Love, by God and grace,

come near and kiss me now.

Unfaithful though I was to you,

yet in your heart remained you true!"

She said "This arrows now for you",

and then she loosed the bow.

"Do you take me for a fool?" she said,

"Faithful you'll be when your dead,

here in this bank you'll make your bed,

and only I will know."

She took her leave of her lover bold,

she took the arrow, took the gold,

and left that  night from Faery hold,

and the moon just watched her go....

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