I wrote this many years ago, in the throes of a brief love affair. At least the poem remains.


It was the king's own falconer
That dared on the rocky crest
Where the cold mist lay 'ere break of day
To plunder the falcon's nest
Mervin he hight and his twice-grandsire
were first at the royal court
To rob the nest with the hood and jess
For the sake of the royal sport
For the sake of the sport of the blood, dear lass,
And the pleasure of  ladies fair
That the kings of the ground might win renown
With the kings of the open air
'Twas carefully Merwin laboured long,
For the gloom was thick as night
And the birds he'd caught would avail him naught
If he fell from a rocky height
He carried a little dark lantern by
That closed with a metal slide
On a crevice he gazed, then the lantern raised,
And he flashed the light quick inside
It was a kestrel's home he'd found,
The hawk  sa proud and wee
And he said to the male, 'Twill naught avail,
But thy mate must come wi' me.
Ah, the kestrel was blinded and o'er matched,
But little he knew of fate
With the fury of love he strove with the glove
That closed on his helpless mate
He strove with the glove by beak and claw
And through to the hand inside
'Till Mervin swore, 'S'blood! Gi' o'er!'
As into a sack he tied
Yes, into a leathern sack, dear lass
Went the light of the kestrel's life
And the male flew high to the dawn red sky
As he screed for his captured wife
Up,up he flew till he passed from view
Like a star to heav'n returned
And Mervin cursed and his hand he nursed
As doon  to the castle he turned.
The days passed by and the female sat
Aperch in an iron cage
And into the sky went her heart and eye
And Mervin anew did rage
Aperch in the iron cage she sat
Above the untouched meat
Far into the sky went her heart and eye
She sat-and would not eat
In vain the boodle of nesting goose
The liver of fresh caught hare
Three days had passed when he cried at last,
'And what should ye ken up there?'
'Thy mate ha' gone, 'tis the way o' men,
'na' different fra' all the rest, '
'will ye waste yer life as a barren wife'
'fra the cold of an empty nest?'
The female heeded him not at all
But lifted her head anew
To the unseen stars through the iron bars
As only the wild can do
And clear as speech she seemed to say,
'I was born for the open sky.'
With eyes too fierce for a women's tears
'Release me, or else I die!'
Then Mervin did what he had not done
And a blasphemous oath swore he
Tho' it cost him sore he lifted the door
And he let the hawk go free
She was gone like a bolt from a steel crossbow
With never a backward glance
And the King's falconer watched after her
Held fast in a breathless trance
Up,up she flew and she screed her joy
As he whispered a holy name
For out of the sun , 'ere her cry was done
An answering call there came
Then down from the sky like a thunderstone
That never the wind could bate
Through the morning haze where he'd hung for days
There hurtled the kestrel's mate
Ah the twa met there, 'twixt earth and sky
And they circled each other thrice
Then they joined as one in the light of the sun
And the tears in an auld man's eyes.

O, the world is wide and strange, dear lass
With many a trap and snare
And many's the bird aperch in a cage
That sings for its supper there
But if from the jess and the iron bar
If ever ye should win free
Mayhap in the sky with a patient eye
Flies one who waits for thee.

Kes"trel (?), n. [See Castrel.] Zool.

A small, slender European hawk (Falco alaudarius), allied to the sparrow hawk. Its color is reddish fawn, streaked and spotted with white and black. Also called windhover and stannel. The name is also applied to other allied species.

⇒ This word is often used in contempt, as of a mean kind of hawk. "Kites and kestrels have a resemblance with hawks."



© Webster 1913.

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