from "The Ascent of the Spear"
Taliessin walked in the palace yard;
he saw, under a guard, a girl sit in the stocks.
The stable-slaves, lounging by the gate,
cried catcalls and mocks, flung roots and skins of fruits.
She, rigid on the hard bench, disdained
motion, her cheek stained with a bruise, veined
with fury her forehead. The guard laughed and chaffed;
when Taliessin stepped near, he leapt to a rigid salute.
Lightly the king's poet halted, took the spear
from the manned hand, and with easy eyes dismissed.
Nor wist the crowd, he gone, what to do;
lifted arms fell askew; jaws gaped;
claws of fingers uncurled. They gazed,
amazed at the world of each inflexible head.
The silence loosened to speech; the king's poet said:
'Do I come as a fool? forgive folly; once more
be kind, be faithful: did we not together adore?
Say then what trick of temper or fate?' Hard-voiced,
she said without glancing, I sit here for taking a stick
to a sneering bastard slut, a Mongol ape,
that mouthed me in a wrangle.
Fortunate, for a brawl in the hall, to escape,
they dare tell me, the post, the stripping and whipping:
should I care, if the hazel rods cut flesh from bone?'
Taliessin through Logres (1938)
Posted by Arborfield at 8:46 am