A frisson, a shiver, a sense of calm
Settled on his shoulders as he espied
The River of Remembrance, ‘twas a balm
To his soul, so weary, he cried
“I am saved, I am saved from this dark place
I see a light, sun-dappled space
Where flowers bloom and birds unafraid,
Sing aloud as they flit in the pretty glade.”
Shifting shape to an antlered deer
Silent, fleet of foot did he move
Through the darkening redwood grove
He slipped unseen from the forest of fear
As the awakening warmth of spring he felt
In gratitude amongst the flowers he knelt.
Zaahir of Armenia, Prince of Light
Raised a cloud of butterflies
As he spun around in childish delight
A kaleidoscope of colour did he energise
His memory now lingers
On his daughter’s tiny fingers
As she reaches for bits and baubles
Delightful childish warbles
Fill his heart with joyful glee
But, his merry steps did falter
Was he forever altered?
In his haste to flee
Was he yet a stag, or forever changed
His human form rearranged?
With a sigh and a laugh he did look below
Neither hoof nor pelt did he espy!
His hands and feet, his skin aglow
Ah relief! No deer did he descry!
To the bank of the river, went he with haste
Ah freedom what a wondrous taste
Kindling thoughts of his raging thirst at sea
Shipwrecked, afloat, drifting aimlessly
When high in the sky an eagle did cry
A lonely speck, as he below
Lost in the tides, in the ebb and flow
Awash in the oceans, wished he could fly
Unfettered, unbound, free from care
As light as a feather, up in the air.
Hardships aplenty did he endure
In his quest for the famous emerald green stone
For his daughter, his angel did so implore
To grant her wish, he set off alone.
Fighting battles, with many lives lost
On green fields now covered in frost
O’er plains, swamps and a mountaintop
Did he travel with ne’er a weary stop
Guided north by the bright evening star
Till the dark redwood forest he saw,
Forgetting once he entered, what for.
The sight of the river afar
Saved him from losing his all
Stooped did he enter, leaving he walked tall.
On his journey to lands far away
Did he encounter many strange sights
China where wizened old men held sway
In rooms with smoke filtered grey lights
Mahjong games played in dark opium halls.
Arab deserts, sand storms and squalls
Sloe-eyed women Seraglio bound
Mysterious, shuttered, ne’er to utter a sound
Dreaming of freedom forever lost.
Zaahir, of Light, never lost hope
The emerald beacon-like fixed in his scope
Through thunder and lightning, rain and frost
Dreaming of home, his tousle-haired child
He ventured forth, through countryside wild.
Downstream he travelled till end of day
Dazzling shooting stars overhead,
Resting his weary head sighing he lay
Dreaming of dragons, fiery and red.
A scurry of twigs, a rustle of feet
Curses and oaths broke his sleep sweet.
A young wild-eyed man, distraught, awry
Crashed through the bushes, rent the air with a cry
“What ails thee, my friend, rest awhile”
“My land is lost, my home destroyed
A brigand Igor his troops have deployed”
Zaahir calmed the stranger with peaceful smile
“Together we’ll return to take what is yours
Vanquish the man, banish your foes.”
Laird Calum McGregor, for so he was named
A Scotsman, he spoke of his homeland held dear
Soft purple heather, wild and untamed
Deep blue lochs and shy red deer…
Craggy cliffs, bagpipes, bright tartan kilts
Woven in patterns, from lambs wool, and hilts
Of broadswords embedded with precious jewels,
Swung in battle and honour bound duels.
Women of beauty, men brave and strong
Cursed by the blight of barbaric deeds
Plundered and pillaged, by Igor who needs
A lesson to teach him right from wrong.
Once a rich man who squandered his wealth
Now a cold heart, a harbinger of death.
From Russia came Igor’s sire – a soldier, a thief
An emerald of value stole he from an altar
His fealty he gave up the emerald to keep
Once owned by the Tsar, from that path he did falter
When Zaahir did tell this tale of his jewel
Lost from his church’s keep, wound in a crewel
The two men of honour realised with a start
Their tales had the same green stone deep at its heart.
Many battles they fought to vanquish the man
Till Igor defeated, his reign at an end
Never to be heard of so far did they send
This Russian traitor, to the Isles of Man
So ended the tale of Zaahir, Prince of Light
And Laird Calum McGregor, Scotland’s brave knight.
Poet’s Note: A fantasy set in Scotland, describing the adventures of Zaahir, The Prince of Light.