Red Wedding

King Thrushbeard (1916) by Arthur Rackham

There is a valley over yonder crest,

Hid beyond willows, dark and desert,

Or so I suspect for I have never quest

A foot or eye in that wood outskirt.

Once and once only while on my way

I heard the voice of a woodland fairy.

Long and sweet it sang to say

That in that forest dim and wary

An old, forgotten magic soaks the land

With spirits of love and life eternal,

That any man should win the hand

Of any maiden in the glen vernal.

Years have passed since that fairy’s clue,

And ages spent in grim doldrums

Have led me back just as I led you.

Now I ask, no, I behest you come,

Die my lack, hand and all.

If not for love then be it dread;

Run, walk, or if neither crawl

Else ours be a wedding not white but red.

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