Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the chess,
And out then came the fair Janet,
As green as onie glass--
--The Ballad of Tam Lin
These seven years I walked alone
consigned to this cold vale of thorns,
marking days and years by bloom
of wild rose, the moon, the hunter's horn.
The blood that beads on holly, blood that fell
to buy men's souls, and free them from
perdition, from this earthly hell,
fell not for me. If Christ's kingdom come,
I burn for love, condemned by lionish desire,
unearthly pride, the favor of a maid
born of this sunless realm, maid of ice and fire--
not by Thy holly blood will her debt to Hell be paid,
but by my own, fairest by my mother borne,
a fallen knight, by my own heart betrayed,
for I took your love, my fiery queen foresworn.
In you I died, both you and I unmade.
Brave the rain, Janet, and this outlandish road.
My hope, my life, lies within you. Do not kill
this love that we between us sowed,
with the rose's thorn your dark blood spill.
My queen has taken all from me, save my name--
That title, it is yours, but take it.
I am kept here in this garden, this rose and I the same.
Free me from this earth, hold the flower's stem, and break it.