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~ By Courtesy of Others ~

 

Hear Dan Miller recite it: MP3 Format (1,7 MB), RealOne Format (3,4 MB)

The Deepest Night: A Yuletide Tale

On the deepest night a frigid breeze
blows beneath the stars,
As whirling wisps weave winter-elves
across the ice-bound lake,
Half a moon spills brightness on
the snow clad forest floor,
Heaven's helmet wheels wide on
Tiwar's mighty axle-tree.

Grey owl ogles from her skyward seat
in a naked oak,
the hoary hare stops high on his haunches
to whiff the wind,
And the lynx which lays in wait for it
soon forgets its longing,
as rim of heaven rumbles with
the roar a reindeer riot.

Bursting quickly from the brush
quickened quails fly,
Raucous cries arise as creatures
before their time arouse,
And when the thunder threatens
open the heavens to crack,
the din declines and the winter woods
wend back to a peerless quiet.

Swiftly storming swart-clouds
overwhelm the moon,
and the wary wolves wail warnings
from hill to snowy hill,
The forest wights lay low
as even the owl squints to see,
As a frightful flurry whips snow aloft
an icy death of a fog.

Weird and woeful wailings wax into a
harrowing host of howls,
Roar the hooves of a hundred reindeer
rounding the river ice,
At once every snow-flake sent aloft
falls quietly back to earth,
And moonlight stills the air again as if
even the moment is frozen.

A wight now stands in man-like shape with a cloak of grey
and a wide brim hat ,
White-bear fur boots lashed to the knee, with a coat of gold
and a vest of green.
Wind-driven wild are his white hair and beard, with one eye
the summer sky as blue,
and the other as dark as midnight's well, and wise old
hands that a tale would tell.

And when he whistles a simple tune,
from the woods a gaggle of elves emerge,
thirteen in all, both swarthy and bright,
some are quite short and others his height,
"There beyond the beaver dam,
lies a farm where a humble kindred stays,
This year their harvest was hit with blight,
and they've not an apple this Yuletide night"

"You are elves of wide renown,
known for your crafts the nine worlds over,
Surely we can, between us, dream,
of gifts for this family so deserving,
Let them feast like lords the yuletide through,
and send elk for their hunters after this moon.
Let the gifts be at their doorstep,
before the man in the moon tallies up midnight!"

At midnight the man of the house hears a knocking,
and goes to the door-sill to see who comes calling,
He heaves high the door on its iron hinges and is greeted
with a snow-blast that sends him back reeling,
Now he can see on the step there are footprints,
and a big velvet sack had there been forgotten.

He calls for his wife, as if guests she's expecting, she says
"No, but close the damn door if you're pleasing,"
So he hoists up the package and slams shut the door,
and lays it all out on the floor by the fire.
A gold table cloth. A large old drinking horn.
A needle and thread. And a loaf of old pan bread.
"This is all fine and dandy, but where is the cheese?
I was kind of expecting at least something to eat."

His wife is abacked by his words,
"Hush now and don't be quite so uncouth!
Give thanks that somebody left us a gift,
though it may not be what you wanted...
Go and ready yourself for the bed now,
tomorrow you have a long day of hunting,
Don't sully your luck for the hunt by complaining,
we shouldn't go hungry on yuletide."

But when they turn and look back, the cloth
is bedecked with the finest feast an eye can see.
And honey mead pours from the horn
and try as you might it cannot be emptied,
And needle and thread has sewn for them
each a new tunic and slack,
And the old pan-bread has doubled and tripled
enough for a many day hunt.

"By the gods!" he exclaims, "we have been
blessed indeed on this cold Yuletide Eve!
Get the children from bed and fetch cat and dog,
this calls on the spot for a yuletide blot!"
"A gift for a gift" she agrees with a smile,
and gathers the kindred around,
when tucked away between the plates
she sees a wise old wooden whistle.

To her lips once touched comes a mindful tune,
whistled as if by magic,
which catches the ear of Old Man Yule
and his throng of thirteen elves,
He smiles and laughs before turning his cloak,
whipping up a storm of snow,
And soon is gone like a sudden storm,
leaving the owl again to ogle the mouse. 

 

© Dan Ralph Miller       

Dano Hammer - Heartfelt Heathen Hip-Hop

Image: © Jürgen Eilts, from www.ShiftedReality.com
 

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