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?