The Whittler's Tale - Poem by Samantha Holsworth
Once rode forth a royal son
Who ached to see the vales and dun
As far and wide as man could go
With but one groom, Ed, brought thereto.
Now lost was he in branch and briar
When sped off westward Phoebus' fire.
Then spied he a pretty little maid
Flitting past in deep'ning shade
'Sweet lady, canst thou shelter me?
I know not where the road may be.'
'If I must truly, ' quoth she with no joy
'But I'd counsel you to guard your boy,
And neither eat nor drink tonight.'
'Why thus? You fill poor Ed with fright.'
'My stepdam's spells and potions black
Would have you flat upon your back.
She barely courtesies for friends,
Much less for travelers at wit's ends.'
'I must stop here, there is no fix.
I have no fear of beast or witch.'
''Tis settled then. So, get you hence.'
Said she, and opened up the fence.
Once in the house, her words proved true.
The old hag offered pungent brew,
From which both prince and boy excused.
So slept they sound till break of day
And rose at dawn to ride away.
Then witchy woman hobbled up
To offer them a stirrup cup
And as she went to fetch a quaff
The young King's son spurred and rode off.
The groom was cinching saddle girths
When back the crone came o'er the earth
Saying 'Take this to your master, son.'
When glass cracked sudden and poison run.
The poison was such deadly trash,
His horse fell dead with one small splash.
He leapt in fear and ran ahead
So fast he caught his prince's steed.
Once he had told of this strange chase
He thought a saddle too much waste.
So ran he back to fetch the seat
And found a raven eating meat
Straight from the horse lying poisoned dead
And (none too bright as was young Ed)
Shot he the fowl for later sup
And took both bird and seat back up.
That night they journeyed to an inn
Wherein they found to their chagrin
Near a dozen thieves, but too
The witch who served the horrid brew.
Into the meal the young prince mixed
The raven that his groom had nixed.
No sooner did the theives partake
Then did their constitutions break
And all fell dead from poison true
From broth to horse to bird to brew.
So left they there that sordid mess
And traveled on despite duress
When finally they found a town
Turned by its Princess upside down,
Because she would not wed a man
Who failed to foil her clever plan.
Each suitor had to riddle her
And if she lost then she'd defer
But if she guessed, they lost their head.
Nine young men already were dead.
And so our prince appeared before her
To ask his riddle and to score her.
'One slew none and yet killed twelve.'
Straight to her books she rushed to delve.
She'd solved riddles of every kind
For they had always pleased her mind;
But this plain statement so perplexed her,
She whined and howled near like a vexed cur.
Then soon turned she to trickery
So dear was her own liberty.
At night she crept into his room
To listen for his selfsealed doom.
She waited for a sleep-giv'n reason
As to how his riddle gave some season.
And as he lay there full awake
She questioned him about his jape
While he feigned speech as if in dream.
'One slew none- what does that mean? '
'A raven fed on poisoned horse.'
'And yet killed twelve? How canst be true? '
'Twas mixed into twelve villains' stew.'
And so, thus having answers sought,
She crept away to sort her thought.
But the prince had held her mantle fast
So she was forced to leave it at last.
She in the morn announced that
She soon would own another's hat.
But before she could progress
the prince demanded his success.
The judges of the riddle game
Asked of his proof for this bold claim.
Out came the cloak, 'twas held aloft,
And thus her victory was ruled off.
And so I close my merry tale
As merry tales should end
With wedding bells, a child's joy,
And laughter with a friend.
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Samantha Holsworth's Other Poems
Still I Rise
The Road Not Taken
If You Forget Me
Edgar Allan Poe
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
Mary Elizabeth Frye