The Maiden of the Woodland

From sun and rain and fertile earth

Spring pastures bright and green,

Vales and forests of unvalued worth

Where magic dwells unseen.

The wonders of the woodland

Eternally abound

Bud and blade and bloom command

Nature's sacred ground.

'Midst mighty Oak and Hazel wise

There dwelt a lady fair

Starlight sparkled in her eyes

And flowers wreathed her hair.

Her raiment was of purest white,

Her hair like sunlight gold;

No creature born of day or night

Was fairer to behold.

And yet a shadow held her heart,

A curse of darkest hue;

She lived her life in world apart

From that which humans knew,

Through nature fair and hallowed

She wandered, unperceived,

A fair form wreathed in shadows

And eternally she grieved.

She was born a noble-child,

Bright as a Litha day.

Bonny, blithe and full of mirth,

She pulled all hearts her way.

But a Goddess borne of Chaos

Grew jealous of the child;

She could not stand the loveliness

Of one so fair and mild.

And so she sent her ravens

To alight around the bed

Of this fair, unblemished maiden

And laid a curse upon her head.

The maiden lay in moonlight

And thought she glimpsed a shadow-

A bird flitted across her sight

And she suddenly felt hollow.

She went up to the windowsill

And watched the birds depart;

The sight gave her a sudden chill

And stabbed into her heart.

She understood her eternal doom

When she looked into the mirror –

She saw the reflection of the room

But not a trace of Her.

No one, then, could see her-

She was forever changed.

Eons passed, the castle fell –

But ever she remained.

The curse of that cruel goddess

Was she'd be forever fair

But she'd always be in darkness

And always feel despair.

But if ever love should find her

The curse would then be broken –

Darkness could not bind her

If those three words were spoken.

But no one could ever see her!

That was the vital part;

If no one could perceive her face

They could not find her heart.

And so she wandered, day and night,

Through woodland green and hallowed

Mulling over her eternal blight

With her heart heavy with shadows.

One day it was a hunter came

He was both bright and cunning

His hounds were quick upon the scent

And speedily came running.

They came upon the maiden

Asleep beneath a tree

Curled amongst the mighty roots

In sleep she was carefree.

The hounds were surely baffled,

For nothing could be seen

But they knew they smelled the sleeping maid

'Midst nature bright and green.

The hunter came upon them

And would have called his hounds

When he heard the maiden breathing

So closely to the ground.

And so he knelt beside her

And gently touched her face

And thought he'd felt no fairer

Or ever sensed such grace.

The maiden woke to the caress

And looked into the hunter's eyes

They were not focused on her

And she saw that he was blind.

"Have my hounds harmed you?"

He asked her in dismay

The maiden could not answer –

He took her breath away.

The hunter, too, was captured

His heart leapt with a feeling

He knew he was enraptured

His soul was sent a-reeling.

"How is it that I love you?"

He asked her, filled with awe

The maiden gasped to hear those words

That she'd never heard before.

The cruel goddess let out a shriek

Those words had at last been spoken

Her magic now was growing weak

And the curse was finally broken.

The maiden wept when she saw her face

Reflected in the river

Bonny, blithe, and full of grace

Life had returned to her.

And so she took the hunter's hand

And returned unto his home

She was the fairest in the land

And no longer dwelt alone.

In time it was she bore a son

Who became a handsome man

And he soon learned what the goddess had done

To his beloved Mam.

And so he took his father's sword

And blessed it in the lake

Where once a fairer goddess dwelled

All for his mother's sake.

He tracked the unkind goddess

And slew her ravens vile

Through realms wreathed in great darkness

O'er oceans cruel and wild

Until at last he found her

Who'd ripped his mother's life apart

He struck her with the blessed sword

Straight through her jealous heart.

The goddess gave an anguished scream

And suddenly disappeared

The world was filled with light again

And nothing need be feared.

The young man returned unto his home

And delighted was to say

That the one who'd cursed his mother's life

Had forever gone away.

That was the last adventure,

They endured no further test

And lived happily ever after

And found time, at last, to rest.