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The Favour

By Lord Thomas Buttesthorn

"Take this remembrance of me,” she said,
"A token of the love for you I bear.
This cloth which for love my own hands spun,
This cloth, for love, I wove;
To which I whispered on a hundred thousand
Nights of the joy I have known with you.
Let its weave intrigue
Let its colours lift your spirits
In the cold far nights when we must be apart.
May it be your companion in all that you do
Truly as I would be were I there.
May it remind you of warm homecoming
When on lonely frosted nights
Home is as far as the stars.
May it protect you in the perilous times
And when no friends stand by you,
Be your comfort and succor.
For it is thrice spun in love
For it is thrice woven in companionship
For it is thrice dyed in gentleness
And until the world has been born,
Grown old and died; and born again three times
Will this that I bestow upon you
Be ever young and ever fresh."
And so I knelt with blind misty eyes,
And trembled when her favour she gave.
For a long, slow, flowing moment
We melted together; our bodies and souls
Became as one.
But alas, too soon, the parting time came,
And my raiment of peace gave way to that of war.
The king had called, and his vassal
I must needs go,
To strengthen his sword with my own sword blows.
In sun and in rain, the days turned to years,
But the cloth that she gave was joyous and fr6sh,
And I always gauged my deeds as if she were there
At last, my king found it time to return,
And the end of strife was at hand.
One last host bestraddled our path,
One final battle to meet and surmount,
One more combat to win.
The armies locked and the struggle was fell,
The dead and the dying piled deep.
But fortune was kind, the advantage we found,
At last the king's enemies gave way.
But a few of them rallied and gave a last charge,
And broke through our lines toward our king.
With no time for thought I ran to his aid,
My body, a bulwark for his life.
I fought on and on with victory song in my blade,
Until a last warrior's blow drove me down.
My arm was useless, my sword fled my hand,
I watched as the death blow came down.
But his death sword never found food to gorge on,
Nor blood to quench its thirst.
For though my skill was beaten,
And my strength to no avail,
It was love that saved me,
And love that raised me.
By the grace of love my death was not to be.
For his cruel blow struck the fair lady's favour,
And ‘twas only the cloth that shattered the steel.

 



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