I met a woman on a winding road
She wore a cloak of dreams
She wandered far without a load
(She travels light, it seems).
With her I waited seven days
But not a word I spoke
And just as we were parting ways
That silence then she broke:
“Sir,” she whispered, “I have come
“From murky gloom’s dark heart
“The road you walk will bare you from
“Here to that grim part.
“The people there are mostly ghosts
“Like me they’ve little more
“But when they gather in their host
“They tell a tale from Before:
“Long ago, a golden child
“Came into their lands
“He was a creature of the wild
“From trees and rocks and sands
“He knew the secrets of the world
“Was home in every part
“Marked in his mind each secret door
“And learned the magic art.
“Our greedy king in envy black
“Seized him one dark day
“And to his tower bore him back
“And shut him quite away.
“Asked the king to the captive boy
“’How is your magic done?’
“And said the slave to jealous roy
“’By light of yonder sun.’
“’Then nevermore,’ the King declared
“’Shall the sun fall on your face’
“’the Dust, henceforth, shall be your Air,
“’And stone give cold embrace.’
“And so in the tower, he was left
“For one hundred years
“And never once was darkness cleft
“By light to dry his tears.
“And as in darkness he was caught
“The boy began to fade
“His secret knowledge was forgot
“As he dulled to greyish shade.
“And when the child at last was seen
“He was a pale, ghostly thing
“He remembered not what he had been
“And swore allegiance to our King.
“With greatest effort did I escape
“That land of constant gloom.
“Before my soul they too could take,
“Spelling-out my doom.
“Now let me ask, for you should know
“As I have heard it said
“Is there a place where I could go
“Where I need not live in dread?”
“Yes,” I answered, without delay
For what real choice had I?
And I outlined to her another way
But I fear it was a lie.