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II. The Shadow of Asak

In THE SHADOW OF ASAK, the bard Guesare sings a silly song about Donzalo to entertain a group of children:

Donzalo’s deeds are all the talk,
I hear he did wondrous things;
He took old Asak’s dogs for a walk
And clipped the Rupa’s wings!

Donzalo’s deeds are wise and just,
And widely sung by the bards;
They say he is a man to trust,
Who never cheats at cards!

Donzalo’s deeds make maidens swoon
And villains shake with fear;
He often visits the man in the moon,
Just to bring the old fellow a beer!

Donzalo’s deeds are known by all,
The lowly and the well bred;
And maybe if he weren’t so tall
He wouldn’t bump his head!

Later in THE SHADOW OF ASAK, Jola sings this riddle song to Donzalo in her cottage, following the first time they make love:

What shadow does a shadow cast?
How long does forever last?
Where sleeps the wind before it blows?
Where is love when it goes?

If I passed beyond the sea,
would you wait and watch for me?
If I crossed the mountains high,
would you pray for wings to fly?

Who am I without my name?
Are the gods or we to blame?
Why must dreams fade with the dawn?
Where is love once it is gone?

If I passed beyond the sea,
would you wait and watch for me?
If I crossed the mountains high,
would you pray for wings to fly?

Could a man count every star?
Why are all things as they are?
Do you love me when you sleep?
Answer these or silence keep.

Guesare sings a song he learned from the Fay:


Legends they tell, where the dwarfs dwell,
of fires that well from the hearths of Hell.
There chains of gold were forged of old,
to bind, to hold, in caverns cold,
where the dwarfs dwell, where the dwarfs dwell.

In secret mines a captive pines;
and the runic lines form mystic signs
to tell her tale. A whisper, a wail,
all voices fail — doomed and pale
a captive pines, a captive pines.

In caverns deep the hours creep;
to wake from sleep means but to weep,
caught in this spell. Does a distant bell
their passing tell? Within her cell,
the hours creep, the hours creep.

The clamor, hark, in caverns dark;
an anvil spark, a dwarf-smith, stark,
to his tasks settles, he casts, he fettles
his magic metals, the crystal kettles
in caverns dark, in caverns dark.

What fate befell, where the dwarfs dwell?
The hammer’s knell would rise and swell
on the fetid air, a song of despair
for the captive fair, beyond all care
where the dwarfs dwell, where the dwarfs dwell.

In THE SHADOW OF ASAK, the Lady Fachalana declaims this piece from the stage, at the close of an old play:

Where has gone the king?
Man no more is mighty;
silence spreads its shroud
where heroes sang of old.

Lizards doze upon
the walls of ruined cities;
the wells hold nests of snakes;
the wind rules realms of dust.

Victories forgotten,
sword beside him broken;
the king lies in his grave
and sleeps eternally.

In THE SHADOW OF ASAK, the ambassador Lord Doufan quotes this aphorism from an old poem:

Make sure your bearings in what lands you roam:
The wisest man is he who travels far,
Yet keeps his eye upon a guiding star
That someday serves to show him his way home.

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Insolent Lad
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