Solstice lullaby

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photo by Biswarup Ganguly

An excerpt from my work in progress, The Death of Arthur. (A sequel to The Light of the Grail, which I'll probably be self-publishing some time soon after I self-publish Joan, my novelization of the life of Joan of Arc.)

In this passage, Elaine, the daughter of King Pelles of Carbonek, describes to her servant Brisen her visit in disguise to her homeland, where she finds her father incapacitated and the land made barren as suggested by rumors that had reached her in the kingdom of Arthur.

"Our last day there, we heard mass with them in the small chapel in the northeast corner of the castle. (Do you remember the place, Brisen? You used to bring me there sometimes.) [The captain of the fishing fleet] asked us to officiate that morning, perhaps to honor us, or perhaps in the hope that we visitors from afar might bring an efficacy to the service that would benefit the king.

"I must confess that if such a fancy lay among his thoughts, I shared it. I was suddenly certain that the minstrel had come to Tintagel just so that I might return to Carbonek, the runaway daughter come to the rescue of her father, a second knight from kingdom of Arthur sent to repair the harm done by the first. As I broke the bread and placed a crumb onto his tongue, I thought I saw his mouth close a little upon it. As I let a trickle of wine fall between his lips, his eyes seemed to flutter. The cup itself – do you remember the antique cup used in that chapel? – the cup seemed to gather to itself a light of its own. I suppose it was only the glow of the candles. He did not rise, and we departed the next morning, making our way through a land still dead."

Brisen got up from the bed and removed your cloak and your shoes, then gently guided you to your feet. She did off your tunic and your leggings and draped you in a gown, dressing you for bed as she used to do when you were the young princess of a happy land.

She softly sang an old lullaby from those days:

Light to dark;
Warmth to cold of night.
The heavens turn,
Fading from our sight.

The brightest star
Burns too far off to feel;
The shadowed moon
Turns always to conceal.

The shadowed moon
Reflects on a refrain
The brightest star
Sings silently, in vain:

The heavens turn,
And bear us in their might
From light to dark,
And back into the light.