A Selkie's Love

Liquid eyes gaze at the shore

Where many have been lost before

Where Selkies fair in seal skins clad

Have lost and forgotten all they had

Where never more to know the sea

They gave up their lives to misery

Where lost to greed and peril grave

They leapt into many a violent wave

Where no more to hold a seal-strong breath

They surrender all to death

Yet here comes a Selkie Maid to rise

And quickly conceals her seal disguise

And human-clad she wanders into town

There to track her true love down

She relents the ocean deeps

Which in her absence toss and weep

Waters seethe and rage so wild

Madly mourning the lost child

Who seeks in stranger world than hers

The man for whom she has come to care

With will to sacrifice all she knows

She calls and seeks him, high and low

Whilst where the wild waters toss and churn

Her sealskin vainly awaits return

Elsewhere in silent candlelit room

In atmosphere of dread and gloom

A young man on his deathbed lies

Watching stars slip through the sky

Each one a lantern's guiding light

Leading lost souls through darkest night

"What chance and how long," sighs he

"Before a star becomes guide to me?

How long before death's lamp is lighted

And I and my love are reunited?"

And he remembers, awash with pain

That he'll never see his love again

He remembers, as grief surrounds

The Maid he loved who fled the town

Who to the ocean, deep and blue

In fear of loss he did pursue

How in alarmed denial he cried

To see her leap to embrace the tide

How, beneath the torturous waves concealed

His one true love's cruel fate was sealed.

Tears flowed down, caught in his lashes

Dreams of love had turned to ashes

Then these words did pass his lips

"Death would hurt no more than this!"

Meanwhile a man does rummage where

The Maiden concealed her disguise with care

He finds the soft-smooth Selkie skin

And thinks of the girl who dwelled within

Her liquid eyes, her soft brown hair

Her perfect skin, so smooth and fair

That night, behind the rocks concealed

He'd watched as the shedding skin revealed

A woman who's lovely human form

Outshone the sun, put moon to scorn

Then he turned his mind to thinking

Memories of legends, softly linking

Without her silky seal disguise

The Selkie can't reclaim the tides

"If," he thought, "keep I the skin for me

The maiden can't return to sea!

And if I have the skin to show

To my side she'll be forced to go!

And though for ocean waves she'll pine

The Selkie Maiden will be mine!

By my fire her wheel shall turn

And never to ocean will she return!"

And so, with thoughts of a moon-fair bride

He from the beach did steal the hide.

The Maiden through deserted streets

Ran on dainty, shoeless feet

Past the bakers, to the inn

And all fell silent as she rushed in

Breathlessly she approached the bar

"Good sir," said she, "I've travelled far

Through raging storms and violent waves

I the ocean's might have braved

And though my people do not agree

I with my love do wish to be

And though I still hear the ocean's call

I, for love, shall surrender all."

With knowing pity the barkeep sighed

And her heart leapt to see his eyes

So full of sadness, hinting grief

She saw it, but still would not believe

"Good sir!" she cried, her eyes tear bright

"Tell me, where lies my love tonight?"

"Sweet Maid," he said, "His health is poor

And though we to Goddess did implore

No potion or balm the cure could give

No prayer could bring the will to live

Love's loss, it seems, left him bereft

Ah, sweet maid, he's close to death."

Up the stairs, to chamber door

And in beyond, where wild wind's roar

Did fling the pale curtains wide

And there, on bed that stood inside

Her love was laid, eerily still

She'd come to late; he'd lost all will.

His soft white skin was pale and cold

And a single tear his sorrow told

To soft dark lashes it tenuously clung

She'd come too late; had stayed to long

Within the calm and bright blue sea

Begging parent's to agree

That a man could love a Selkie Maid

That she'd be treasured, and not betrayed

She begged to be granted a mortal life

To become a lover and a wife

To raise the child that she knew

Safe inside her breathed and grew

Long she'd argued, begged and pleaded

And, finally, her request was heeded

"But," they warned her, "though love is strong

Mortal life does not linger long

The choice is yours, but you should know

Death awaits you if you go!"

The young man came at sun's first light

To the tavern, smiling bright

The sealskin around his shoulder's thrown

That to the Maiden it would be plainly shown

"Sir!" he called to the barkeep grim,

"Does the Selkie girl dwell within?

For last night I her disguise did find

By Selkie lore, she now is mine!"

The barkeep raised his grey-haired head

And angrily to the young man said:

"You try to force a young girl's heart

From her true love to prise apart

You think to take by force a wife

Who loved the man who lost his life

Through broken heart when he thought her gone

He loved her, his only one

And though she was Selkie, she loved him well

And gave up her skin, with him to dwell.

You come to claim her? You have no right!

She lost her love upon this night.

We thought she slept beside him till

We found her form was pale and still

And there, upon her lifeless lips

We saw the poison that she'd sipped."

The young man gasped, and all did hear

The tale told, the moral clear

The two who by death had been forced to part

Showed the power of the heart

Love could be neither forced or prevented

It grew ever stronger and never relented

A love so strong, that when they parted

It left them both so broken hearted

That they had breathed their final breath

Bereaved and lonely, they succumbed to death.

The barkeep glowered as he said,

"Through your jealousy these two are dead!

You denied their love since the moment it started

Insisting the two were better parted

You were all disgusted and dismayed

That a man could love a Selkie maid

And now they're gone, and for this shame

You only have yourself to blame!

For the loss of him, her life she did take:

There's no claim now for you to make!"

The young man hung his crimson head down

As the news spread wide throughout the town

Too late, now, for him to repent

Too high the price, when blood was spent.

The seal skin now will mark the grave

Where the maiden and her love were laid

Kept apart when they drew breath

Reunited in the embrace of death

Human and Selkie in grief unite

To lament what happened on that night

For not only had the couple died

The child's life had been denied

The sealskin shown for all to see

The destructive force of jealousy

The oceans deep had been dismayed

To give up their Selkie Maid

And the humans, safe on land

Refused the love they couldn't understand

You who read this, stop and ponder

Was the outcome any wonder?

If you and your love were torn apart

Would you live with a broken heart?

If you were a Selkie who had come

To land to find your loved one gone

What would there be left for you to do

Save for weeping and dying too?

Can you see now the tale's revealed

Just how the couple's fates were sealed?