In the haste of quiet night,
Merlin comes, his torch alight,
Silver eyes that pierce the gloom
Illuminate the golden room.
A rich brocade, a satin cover,
A king of strength and renewed vigor,
Upon his face a pale sheen
Of sweat; this he had not foreseen.
“What is it, Merlin?” he demands,
And rising from the bed, he stands,
A king of might and royal worth
Awaiting news of his son’s birth.
“The child has come,” answers the sage,
And standing there, he does now gauge
the King’s reaction to this news-
First pleasure, then a sigh, bemused.
“But must we truly let him go?”
Asks Uther, his whole face aglow.
He is a father, a man fulfilled
His body hums; his blood has thrilled
To the pleasure of these tidings;
He imagines the child riding,
His son now grown; a man so strong;
a king to right his every wrong.
“You must,” says Merlin, not without
a certain kind of compassionate doubt
as to the wisdom of his words;
nevertheless, he bids the King gird
his loins, take upon himself a sword,
and make haste to walk toward
the birthing room, so he may bid
his child farewell, and have him hid.
The King walks swiftly; he sees his Queen
glowing within a golden scene;
she holds her child to her breast
and raises her eyes to the new guest.
“Ah, my lord!” she says at once,
“How beautiful is our son!
I cannot bear to have him taken;
how can your heart not awaken
to look on him, to see him now
his beautiful skin- his precious brow?
I love him so;” and her voice breaks
“Must you, must you, truly take—?”
“My Lady,” says the King, and kneels,
“This secret to us is not revealed,
but only to Merlin, whom we trust;
we only do this for we must.”
He takes the child gently from
her outstretched hands, like a mute swan,
they fold in onto themselves;
memories to place on shelves
within her mind, a searing pain
that far outlives the greater gain.
She cannot bear to watch and yet
she must, and like a statuette
carved in marble, so her features
mold to the exquisite pain of creatures
unduly tortured, unhappy far
beyond the realm of earth and star.
Merlin cloaks himself and stands,
awaiting his King’s broken demands
to care for the child, to serve him well,
to protect him with every spell
and every charm of which man knows.
Merlin pauses, nods- and then he goes
into the darkness; they know not where;
they remain behind, the severed pair.
They are united in their grief;
into the darkness they do weep.
They hold each other in the dark
the flush of magenta joy a spark
to kindle always their pained love,
a suffering undreamed of
that creates a beauty so forlorn
it’s pieced of hearts that have been torn.
My little Arthur, I love you so;
I cannot bear to let you go.
And yet, here in the hospital bed
I picture the life you have led
It is one of beauty; you emerged
into the world, and I a surge
of love did feel, so immense
I would keep you at any expense.
But can I keep you to hurt you,
to make you suffer, so when you grew
your life would be a kind of hell?
No, for this I love you too well.
Tears sparkle in my silver eyes;
do not think I ignore your cries.
I love you, Arthur; you are mine;
my child, you sparkle and you shine
with a radiance all your own,
one I am glad to have known.
But I cannot keep you and so I give
you to them- your life to live.