Janos Arany

(1817-1882 / Hungary)

The Mother Of King Matthias

swiftly wrote a letter;
it was moist
with loving tears
many, too, and bitter.

For her son,
held in Prague,
were these fair words she wrote,
harshly kept
in prison cell;
good news to him it brought.

'Do not move
my sweet boy
from Prague's famous city;
I'll pay the ransom
to get you out
from your captivity.

Gold coins,
silver, too,
will save you from your doom;
in my heart
there is the thought
you must come back home.

Do not start,
do not move,
my only orphaned son;
who shall I
have, if you're
enticed by evil men?

This note must
be handed to
Matthias Hunyadi;
what I've writ
with my own hand
no other should see!'

On wax of black
she pressed down
her signet ring of seal;
faithful servants
of her court
lounge, leaning at a rail.

'Who will here
quickest take
to Prague this note for him?
Sacks of gold
horses, too,
I'll pay for weary limb.'

'I'll take the note
I'll take the note
seven days the distance clears.'
'That will seem
to my heart
seven whole long years.'

'I'll take the note
In three days
the answer you will see.'
'In this heart
so full of love
three whole months 'twill be.'

'Oh my God,
oh my God,
wings a man requires,
that he may
attain the speed
a mother's heart desires.'

What comes here?
Waht comes here?
Look, a pitch black raven;
one like it
on the shield
of Hunyad is engraven.

He swoops down
he swoops down,
within a tempest bleack;
from her hand
he has snatched
the letter in hi beak.

'Quick, rush quick,
catch the bird,
it must from him be taken.'
on its track
a crwod sets forth,
that they may shoot the raven.

Not a sign
of that bird,
though they a hundred shoot;
not a word
not a trace
of the bird that seized the note.

Morn' to eve
woods are searched,
the route they saw it go;
when, night comes,
hark! a knock
at the widow's window.

'Who knocks here?
Who knocks here?'
It is the raven black:
in its beak
is the note,
or one like it, brought back.

Red the seal
is this time,
and perfect the folding.
What great joy!
What delight!
His fine hand beholding.

Submitted: Tuesday, October 05, 2010

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