Vivian and Merlin

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Vivian and Merlin

from: Poems by Ralph de Tunstall Sneyd (Pp. 74 - 77)  1929

(Reproduced here by permission of John Sneyd)
Old Merlin, skilled in Bardic lore,
    Well versed in many a mystic rite;
Who, into past and future, saw;
    And, to whose inner sight,
Was pictured many a secret thing!
    Sat in the forest near a spring.
His beard and locks were white with years;
    But sight and hearing true and keen;
And simple habits loved by seers,
    Gave zest for life, I ween:
And so, on Vivian, he did gaze,
    When she would come the Bard to praise!

And Merlin loved the winsome Vivian there;
    Dark were her eyes and lustrous was her hair,
With ruddy tinge; her face and limbs were fair,
    And beautiful beyond compare;
But she full many lovers had, I ween,
    Changing them like to garments, every one,
For proud and wanton, Vivian had been,
    With soul that dwelt alone!
With clinging robe of samite, leafy green,
    And bangles serpent-shaped of beaten gold,
And golden fillet, shone the fairy queen,
    With necklet rich and old,
Studded with rubies fair and sapphires bright,
    And far, around her, waved her lustrous hair;
Her cheeks were soft, suffused with rosy light,
    She seemed a goddess there!

Full oft has dazzling youth been loved by age,
    And age been ill-requited for that love;
For youth cares little for the lonely sage,
    Its thoughts, through pleasures, move!
Seldom is youth a lover, then, of age,
    Except with love, in which no passion dwells;
'Tis only when abnormal passions rage,
    As if from seething wells!
But why should age or youth be all debarred
    Dear solace from a girl's sweet lips divine?
To age and youth a lonely fate is hard;
    They fain would drink of love's celestial wine!
I praise not, and I blame not, yet 'tis wise
    To seek for heavenly virtues in the mate!
For, if such heavenly virtues we despise,
    Forlorn will be our fate!

And Merlin, oft, would Vivian's cheek caress;
    Her lustrous tresses he would stroke and smooth;
Saying: "My darling, dearest, ever best,
    Kiss me, my child, my love!"
The girl soft arms would throw around the sage,
    Though jealousy of his high knowledge grew;
Something of love at times, spite of his age,
    The ardent Vivian for old Merlin knew!
"I love you, Merlin, evermore," she said;
    For you are great, and loving, wise and true,
Let Vivian nestle near your noble head;
    None can compare, for evermore, with you;
Oh, give me love, and I will be your slave;
    Will follow you to Hell's dread portals far;
Swim seas of blood, and fiery billows brave;
    Or, scale the farthest star!
Oh, give me love, and I will be your slave!
    For love I live; for love I fain would die,
And sink into a cold and lonely grave,
    For evermore to lie.

Oh, Merlin, kiss me; press me close, my dear!
    I fain would have thee in my fairy realm,
Renew thy youth; come quickly, never fear;
    For I command thee, come!"
Madly did Merlin kiss the fairy Queen!
    In the dim forest wildly did he love!
Her flesh to his with ecstasy supreme,
    His amorous heart did move!
He kissed again, and lo! the forest dell,
    With branching oaks, before his sight did fade,
A soothing glamour o'er his senses fell,
    His heart's swift course was stayed!

Then Vivian rose, and said: "No longer here,
    Shalt thou my rival be in mystic lore;
With youth renewed, shalt thou be lover dear,
    Upon some fairy shore!"
She wound about his form a subtle web
    Within the forest's deep and lonely glades,
By magic art, the mesh she well did spread;
    He sank beneath the shades!

There came a moaning through the forest wide;
    Beneath the giant oaks the bracken stirred;
And gaunt grey wolves, in search of prey, did glide;
    The twilight faded; rustling sounds were heard;
The lightning flashed, and echoing thunder rolled;
    Far down the valley, bursting torrents roared;
The light did gleam, and darkness did enfold
    The oaks, the rushing stream, and grassy sward,
And thicket deep, and solitary glade,
    And vast expanse of forest grandly spread,
Where crimson fungi grew beneath the shade,
    And acorns hung o'erhead,
The rapid flash, and flash again, were shown;
    With gloomy darkness coming in between,
The wild rain beat; the wild wind howled and moaned;
    Wild raged the swollen stream!

At length, the fearful tempest ceased, and far
    Over the forest, beauty reigned and calm;
And far above there gleamed the morning star,
    As if to shield from harm!
The splendour of the rising sun was seen,
    From many a mountain-top and distant hill;
The sun was still triumphant, earth I wean
    Was loved by heaven still!

No mortal knows where mighty Merlin sleeps;
    Perchance, o'er him, the tuneful songsters wing;
And nature still the ancient secret keeps
    Where thrush and blackbird sing!
Perchance, in some fair isle, his spirit hides;
    Some sea-girt isle, beloved of poets true;
Or, maybe he, with Vivian, abides,
    Loving her still, and loved 'midst waters blue!