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I. The Song of the Sword

The first is from THE SONG OF THE SWORD, a ‘courtly’ poem from the young diplomat Jobareth Nafal:

IN LOVE’S SERVICE

Though oft I wear Love’s livery,
No mistress of mine shall she be.
Of Love’s bonds I will be free
To sup on life and have my fill,
To take my pleasures where I will;
I’ll remain my own man still.

So if Love’s praises I may sing,
Know that my words mean not a thing;
They are birds that take to wing.
They bear sweet songs to whom they might,
And, leaving naught to mark their flight,
Are away and out of sight.

I’ll stay not long in Love’s service,
Only a while, to have her kiss.
Then I’ll go, rememb’ring this:
She welcomes back all former men,
However long it may have been,
Come to share her gifts again.

Later in THE SONG OF THE SWORD, the two minstrels Guesare and Oder exchange verses of an old song. This is the poem that more-or-less inspired the novel:

THE SONG OF THE SWORD

The song of the shining sword, I sing,
The song of a bird with a bright steel wing;
I sing of blows that make blades ring,
The life it has, the death it will bring.

My tales of time-lost battles I tell,
The sieges where great cities fell;
Of men who fought bravely and well,
The many souls sent down to hell.

To music made by clashing shields,
The sword sings over many fields;
A scythe Death unrelenting wields:
Men’s lives, the crop his reaping yields.

I watch by the light of a blood-red moon,
Where broken ramparts rise in ruin;
The cold wind carries a song of doom
As armies march to the ancient tune.

Before the sword, each nation falls;
It overthrows their high-built walls.
Barbarians plunder Tesra’s halls;
The mighty end their days as thralls.

The sword cares naught for prideful powers
That gather wealth and build high towers.
It throws them down as mankind cowers;
They lie forgotten beneath the flowers.

Oh, I shall sing the song of the sword,
Of that which ever is man’s lord;
A song arising from discord,
For we march still to the song of the sword.

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Insolent Lad
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