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The Legend of Inve and Tantalla III: An Ancient Tale

The legends told by kings in court
are of the greatly varied sort.
Long tales of unrequitted love,
or stories from the world above.
Of wizards wise and witches vain        5
and cursed lords with iron reign.
Most of these tales do have some truth
from most fantastic to uncouth
yet of the legends ever told
one still remains that grows not old.        10

There once had lived a dreadful queen
whose beauty never shall be seen
if all the west were e'er unmade
for none more glorious was that maid.

Her heart was vain and full of greed,        15
and riches wanted without heed.
She ever lusted after gold
though in her chests was wealth untold.
The more she wanted, more she had;
with want, her heart would drive her mad.        20

One day she learned of this wise one
when rumour of the things he'd done
spread to the ears of the court.
The dreadful lady would resort
to meet with him, to speak with him            25
however gay, or sad, or grim.
No obstacle could her prevent
nor device need restraint invent.
For one to provide sating gold
she must not her desire withold.            30

So soon she left her castle high
when dark foreboding cast the sky
into a starless, sullen shade.
Still heedless in her escapade
she stole into a growing wood,            35
an ancient forest there had stood.
The wizard she had learned was there.

The clime was chilly, cold was air,
yet, wrapped in black enshrouding bands
though cold winds bit her tender hands            40
the daughter of this dreadful queen
after her mother stole unseen.

The dame, at last had found the glade,
and resting in the dewey shade
sat him, of whom the rumours said            45
could make pure gold from stone or bread.

At last, you came, dear queen of mine.

How did you, my presence divine?

Speak not so loudly, lest they hear.
The spirits here are keen of ear.        50

Quick, show me now the magic wand
or give to me the secret brand
that makes fine gold of air and ice.
Show me, I pray, this strange device.

You hasten, you! Dear queen of mine.        55
Know this; all that I own is thine.
I shall ask nothing in return
but there's a cost that you must learn.

Be quick with it, dear forest lad.
Come sate me now, I shall be glad.            60
I shall pay you with limb and life
or even fall to be your wife.

Hush now, my lady, silent come.
Draw nearer, I shall give you some.

I come for all that you must give.            65
I offer you my court to live.

No want have I for court of kings.
I sleep in woods, with birds I sing.
Hush now, my lady, silent fall.
Draw nearer, for I give you all.            70

The dreadful queen, with gladdened heart
with her riament did depart
for in the joy of wealth untold
she quite forgot the biting cold.

The wizard drew out from his sack            75
which he had hidden at his back
a little black and uncut stone
that coldly bit the flesh and bone.

The queen will seize the gem from him,
the light in his face will not dim.            80
The gem will slowly, gently, warm
the flesh in that queen's lissom arm.

How does it work, what must I do?
Quick, tell me this before you go.

Indeed he had begun to fade            85
and blend into the leafy shade.

This gem shall more than give you gold
and bless you with silver untold.
This gem shall give you life and pow'r
as all before you faint or cow'r.            90
This gem shall make you who you are,
for that, in truth, is its lone pow'er.

What must I do, before you fade,
tell ere you're eaten by the shade!

This jewel in your bosom keep            95
and in this very forest sleep.
Sleep long and hard for thirteen nights
and then arise in wealth and might.

The queen so placed it in her womb,
the little orb was there entombed.            100
All this, the princess saw and heard
and worried great, for him she feared.

Her mother fell into a deep
and almost calm and death-like sleep.
Her weeping daughter gently lay                105
by her side till her waking day.

At last the fire in her woke
and black then were the words she spoke.
The dreadful queen who little cared
for life and little wealth she shared            110
had given all she ever had
to sate her heart and make it glad.

Now she had woken from the trance
without the hope of second chance,
for willing did she give up all                115
for wealth untold to fill her hall.

Now woke she, great and gallant dread
within the woods where none would tread.
She stretched a large and wretched hand
and on her two feet tried to stand.                120
The wicked fool, she did not feel
the gain of weight on hand and heel.
And belching forth a foul fume
the boughs of trees in flame consummed.
Her mighty wings she stretched from end            125
to end, the ancient trees to bend.
About her, strewn like useless rocks
were golden stones enough to mock
the wealthiest in all the lands;
The promised wealth was thus at hand,            130
so was the endless life, though now
the foolish lady did not know.
Yet also was the dreadful might
and strength, a thousand lords to fight,
and incarnation of her thought            135
on her, by her, the stone had wrought.

Before the thirteen nights had gone
the fate was written, curse was done.
Before was Sisibil the queen,
now Sisibil the dread was seen.            140
A silver crown sits on her head,
the queen of dragons, dame of dread.

Yet by her side is shaken still
her weeping daughter. Dreadful will
that day be seen, for in the drake                145
goodness or ill does oft mistake.
A true reflection of her being
the dreadful mother, dragon queen,
who through the woods in secret stole,
devoured her daughter, ate her whole.            150

Style / type: 
Structured: Western
Review Request (Intensity): 
I want the raw truth, feel free to knock me on my back
Review Request (Direction): 
What did you think of my title?
How was my language use?
What did you think of the rhythm or pattern or pacing?
How does this theme appeal to you?
How was the beginning/ending of the poem?
Last few words: 
This part visits an old fairytale told in the courts of the kings of the west. It is my first example of extended dialogue, and not the most exciting. The events in this story will (naturally) prove important in the rest of the tale. Thanks to those who read the earlier parts. If this is any help, the excitement is about to begin. :)
Editing stage: 


These stories are great, but I just am not read in the direction they come from.
I hope there are some that can read these grand pieces and do them justice.
I have read one or two and think that your writing to keep up with the story and make it such an epic is exceptional.. Probably an age thing that I become lost in there some place, Yours Ian.T

There are a million reasons to believe in yourself,
So find more reasons to believe in others..

I'm glad you read this. If the story is not clear, or if a reader is easily lost, then it shows that I failed to make it as clear as I could.

But it's a good thing you read the poem this far. as Wes will say, don't think about the poetry and get bogged down with it. The main thing is the story, which is all yours to savour. But I know what you mean.

I will put up a blog, or write some prose explaining the poem as it goes on, to make it easier. Much easier to follow. I really want you to enjoy the story. Don't go away yet. I will guide you through it.


No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job. - TS Eliot

author comment

I can understand the poetry it is me being lazy if there are words I don't know I skip on, this is ok if it's just the odd word but when there are several it looses me.
It's not a fault of the poet it is me, but I thought that I would let you know that I had read your works anyway.
Your Theme is spotless and the story true, the flow is great and rhyme and rythme is excellent it is just that with strange names I become lazy.
Thanks for replying, Yours Ian.T

There are a million reasons to believe in yourself,
So find more reasons to believe in others..

Then have no worries. I'm in the habit of using dated language. I read Tolkien a lot. Also, there will be place name and names of people I will mention that form part of the larger mythos, but are not directly related to the tales.

When such crop up, it's questions that I want. And need. it gives me a chance to throw more light on certain references, and leads me to the hitherto hidden motive of this stories; to get readers interested in the larger myth. :)

So ask away, when I mention some unknown place. But for any rare words, well...there's OED. lol But really, they can be glossed over. I'm glad you read my stories. It really helps to keep me motivated.

Thank you so much, Ian.

No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job. - TS Eliot

author comment

but as promised I'm going to go ahead with my analysis (they are all prepared through Inve and Enedentian, so it's simply a question of transferring them here... and making some sort of sense, which is much harder for me).

    I like this tale within a tale, but as I've attempted this a few times I'll let you in on something I figured out after a fair bit of experimentation. When you change the venue of your story, sometimes it becomes necessary to SAY SO (please to read my recent blog about Show vs. Tell). All of the lovely language in the world will not create clarity if the reader has to readjust to the new story line and doesn't have the "facts" to make this easy.

    For the most part this succeeds. I had no trouble understanding where I was and what was going on. When I come across the occasional moment of confusion, I will make note of it. Also, the meter change is of course still prevalent. I will note it only where it seems to me to cause a difficulty in the read. I think one of the more difficult aspects of writing a long piece is that (and I’ve said this before) if it can’t be read quickly with ease, the stumbling of meter becomes a true impediment. Still a rough draft, so the pointing out of small typos and the like is probably not necessary, but I need the practice and I might note something you would miss.

    Lines 1-6 are three incomplete sentences that would serve well if you simply used commas and turned them into one sentence. Line six presents a problem I have not solved. Cur/sed (I assume) is meant to be pronounced Curséd with two syllables, but of course the “accent” is on the first syllable poetically. How to convince the reader to read it correctly is beyond me. I have of late been leaving the “accent” mark out and trusting the reader. However, this means the meter MUST lead. It makes your switching from iamb to trochee all that more problematic.

    7 & 8 Articles like “of” are ugly when you accent them, particularly at the beginning of a sentence.

“The most of all these tales have truth,

fantastic to the raw uncouth,

yet of the legends ever told...”  ?  

I would avoid using most twice so close together.

    12 I think you meant her beauty “never shall be seen again.” The line is not clear.

    14 “Glorious” may eat up too much space. Try “gloried”?

    21 When I can fix this, I will try, but for now “this” doesn’t work in the meter. I would likely start the line over from a slightly different perspective... or something.

    23 Meter problem stands out. As a general rule I find it is not wise to allow a preposition (in this case “to”) to be accented in your commonly accepted meter.

    28-30 The meter problems are manifold. If you want suggestions I have them, but I think you can work this easily enough. If you’re “suggesting” iamb throughout (which you are), beware using two syllable trochee words as the second word in your verse.

    37 I like “A” instead of “The”.

    39 Like “but” yet only needs a comma preceding it.

    40 This line is parenthetical. End 39 and 40 with a comma.

    42 Meter again.

    45 You don’t need the comma. May I suggest Gary Lutz’s “Grammar Desk Reference”? It’s one of those quickie answer books that doesn’t go deep into grammar, but answers a lot of nagging needs. It’s one of my favorite tools.

    48 “Presence” is accented on the first syllable, you require it be on the second.

    51 & 52 I won’t pick on too many rhymes choices, but this one was a little too blatant.

    57 Try- “I ask for nothing in return.”

    61 Try- “I pay you with my limb and life.”

    65 “Can” give. He doesn’t have to do anything.

    66 She offers the court for him to live in, but the line doesn’t clarify that. Ah, always more words are needed.

    72 “and with her raiment did depart.”

    75 Invert “out” and “from”.

    79 Instead of “will” I would suggest “would”.

    80 I’m not sure I understood this line.

    83 & 84 Bad rhyme.

    88 Meter problems.

    92 You used the correct contraction earlier with “pow’r”, but slipped on this one.

    95 Most readers will read “jewel” as one syllable. This is not technically correct, but what are you gonna do?

    99 Okay, I’m way confused. “Womb”? Actually in her womb? Or in a pouch at her belly? Or... hmmm.

    106 Try “Upon her side ‘til waking day.”

    120 Eliminate “two”.

    131 & 132 Another rhyme I cannot forgive.

    146 Meter again. Remember, there are other places you play this trick, but I have only made note of the ones that seem to cause trouble. If I didn’t make note, it’s because it didn’t interrupt the flow and therefore was no trouble.

    147 & 148 Rhyme. Really?

    150 The line has meter problems, but more than that it seems to drop the story like a rock. Somehow we need a little more elegance in the drama. Too sudden.

    I am digging into this as I would my own poetry. When I start to get ugly enough to trouble you, then let me know. Otherwise... see you in part 4.



W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

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