Lady’s Green Mantle
a story in hexameter
This book is dedicated to Ann and Alfred Barnes
Under the Hawthorne, the breezes were stirring the voice of the wind chimes.
Music, that seemed to be speaking was heard, as the children, excited,
Drawn by the tinkling chiming; approached the old story time hour.
“Wait ’til we tell old Miss Prune about how we discovered the lyre;
We’ll read the book called: The Lady’s Green Mantle and Sam’s Golden Lyre!”
They didn’t see, as the tiny wise woman appeared just beside them.
Connie and Carol and Keith didn’t know where she actually came from.
Connie exclaimed, “If there’s anything she doesn’t know or imagine
This new adventure will prove it; but Carol can bring forth its secret.
She will be reading the book, and then playing the music to follow.”
Carol replied, “it is really the lyre that is playing the music.
That is an ancient awareness; I only must follow the feeling.
Sam’s golden lyre of Faerie has taught me; it’s ancient and magic!”
Now it is certainly time to begin,” said Miss Prune, “for I’ve been here
Waiting to hear what the mystery is, and indeed I do wonder!”
Sunset was tingeing the light shadows umber. When Carol had taken
Three breaths of pure evening air, she began to explain how it started:
“Well, I was in Nana’s studio searching a box of old paintings.
Trying to find a particular one we inherited from her collection.
One which had always appeared to be living; and almost in motion.
Shimmering luminous colour… which suddenly shifted position.
Grandma Johanna had always been, ‘Nana’, since I could remember.
She’d painted places and happenings, real and imagined, in colour.
Only her studio, given to us, has been left as she’d had it,
All of her rooms have been changed; the whole house has been redecorated.
None of her specially fashioned décor has been left in the building.
Nana’s bright studio rooms had been built at some distance, near pine trees.
Dust was still hovering, clouding the light that shone through the round window.
Stacks of old albums and pictures still had to be set in the corner.
Hours had gone by since I’d started to hunt at eleven that morning.
Only one painting would do, “The Log Cabin at Midsummer Sunset”.
Thump! As the volumes were placed on the floor. There was only one crate left.
Finally I spied it; though covered with dust, it was just what I wanted.
Something about it was special. The cabin, first built by John Davis,
Back in the times when the family left Wales; was completely authentic.
It was the new home constructed-in seventeen hundred and eighty.
Yes, I would use it for my school report on the history of buildings!
Thoughtfully, as I turned over the painting, I saw what was written:
“After I’m gone you’ll discover a secret above the old doorway.
Standing in front of the door, try to sing out five tones in a sequence.
If you discover the sequence, you’ll enter a story of wonder”.
Turning the picture back over, I noticed a curious emblem
Over the door of the cabin. A small golden lyre was depicted.
“Whoever saw such a thing?” I said, “ancient it must be; how thrilling!”
Clambering down the old stairs… “Look at this,” I exclaimed to my brother,
“Here is a sign or an emblem, a golden-hued lyre o’er the doorway!
And it appears on our Nana’s most wonderful work! If it shows us
True live phenomena, then it is magic. We must see the cabin
…Yes, we should go there this weekend, for summer’s approaching, and free time!
Holidays always are full of adventures. Let’s spend a few days there.”
While I was speaking, I wondered if Papa’s old cabin was opened.
When he was living we went once to see it. But we were much younger.
It had been years since we’d been there and seen the unique old log structure.
We asked permission and mother said, “wait ’til the weekend,” as usual.
After obtaining the key, we could hardly contain our excitement,
Saturday finally came, and we got to go visit the cabin.
We had to pack our provisions, for it would take hours of hiking.
Through the tall grass we went, tramping. We finally found the old pathway,
Half over-grown with disuse. We remembered the way Papa showed us.
Later we rested beneath an old willow by glistening waters,
Connie and Keith stopped to gather some kindling and make us a campfire.
Soup was warmed up by midday and soon eaten with salad and crackers.
Watching the flow of the water, ’twas dappled by sparkling sunlight,
Brought back adventures of summers gone by when we’d played by the willows.
I can remember a time, when a milk pod became a light vessel,
Gossamer made us a sail, and we sailed our small boats in the shallows.
On the clear waters, they glided, and led us down stream to the nixies.
Stories of Ichabod Mudd in the Round Room and underground caverns.
I could still hear a faint echo, a chorus of chortling voices.
Nixies were telling about how the waters had flowed in past ages.
We were much younger in those days: I know, though I hardly remember;
“Oceans were here all about where you children are splashing and playing.
We are no more than a trickle compared to the place we will flow to.”
Connie and I were soon wading, exploring the clumps of green islands.
Visible roots were supporting the muddy green land. The few bushes
Growing on top, interspersed with young trees, made them look like green sailboats.
Each of us sailed our own island imagining we were sea-captains.
Connie became quite intent upon sailing her island of greenness,
Keith had to pull her ashore ’midst much splashing and rollicking chatter.
We had been planning to reach the old cabin while it was still light out.
On through the forest, we trod the beloved brown pathway . . . in rhythm.
First through the elm trees, a clearing, on through the dark peace of the cedars,
Uphill we found a faint trail which soon led to the back of the cabin.
Facing a beautiful sunset, the pond of the bullfrogs was waiting.
“Now we will know for ourselves,” said I, “whether that lyre is true magic.”
Looking above the old doorway, we searched for the sign on the painting.
Nothing was visible, not ’til the sunset had shone its last sunbeam.
Then something flashed and we saw the old lyre; it was etched o’er the doorway.
Suddenly it had begun to reflect the same light that was shining
In the last sunrays. A little compartment was outlined in golden,
Brilliantly shining. It was the same emblem, an old-fashioned lyre.
It was exactly the same as the painting discovered last Monday.
“If you discover the sequence, you’ll enter a story of wonder.”
There was some magic at work here; good forces were helping our efforts.
Hour after hour without pause, we then sang different lines of our music.
Five tones, repeated in various sequences – rhythmical patterns.
“Maybe its simple,” said Keith. “The old scale with five notes: Pentatonic.”
That was the truth; as we hummed, the compartment above swung wide open.
“Carol can climb on my shoulders and see if there’s anything up there.”
Balancing then on Keith’s shoulders I felt an old volume before me.
Carefully dusting it off, I espied a slight sparkle float by me.
Suddenly spritely words sounded; we looked up in startled amazement.
“Patient Umph waits to do good at your doorstep,” spoke up a small creature.
You are the children descended from Sam; you’ve discovered the sequence.”
We had heard stories of ‘Umph’ ever since we’d been very small children.
Nana was always expecting that Umph would return to be with us.
Back when Johanna Rose Davis came over from Wales, Umph was with her.
For generations, the sparkling ‘Tri-Umph’ had been known as a helper.
We were amazed: I climbed down, handing Connie the volume we’d found there.
“This is the treasure, Miss Prune, it is bound and embossed in fine leather.
Nana so hoped we’d discover this book that she sent Umph to guard it.”
Now to continue the story; – we’d entered the story of wonder.
“What does it say?” exclaimed Connie. “Now let’s go inside.” Then I read it.
White like the starshine glowed Umph so we didn’t have need of the lantern.
Rustic, the cabin and musty, the air, as we opened the volume.
It is entitled, The Lady’s-Green-Mantle and Sam’s Golden Lyre,
Seventeen hundred and ninety – I’ll bet that Johanna Rose wrote it.
The Lady’s-Green-Mantle and Sam’s Golden Lyre
Strange were the words that Johanna Rose heard as she turned in her slumber.
Tones were resounding, re-echoed in dream waves revealing a picture:
“See in the early morn, how elementals have gathered fresh dewdrops?
There they are –, clothed in the leaves of a plant known as Lady’s Green Mantle.
Take a good look at that plant, which is named ‘Alchemilla Vulgaris’.
You must discover the place it is growing and gather the dewdrops
Found in the middle of each of its leaflets; that water’s the purest.
When your new child has been born, have him christened with dewdrops, collected
At the first dawning on Midsummer morning: That way he’ll be able
To understand in the world of the fairies. For freedom’s sake, help him!
Destiny challenges him to discover his path and relate it.”
Thus spoke the angel in dream waves. Johanna, asleep, sighed and nodded.
Chimes in the hallway were ringing. Johanna awoke to their rhythm.
“My what an odd dream I had, about one of the herbs in the garden.
Yes, ’twas the one where one dew drop attracted the eye as it glimmered
On every leaf. I think there is a sylph-light which kindles inside it.
There did appear elementals in green, cloaked in leaves; they were working.
Gathering dewdrops, which glistened in each of the leaves as they neared them.
Oh, it is Lady’s Green Mantle, and tea can be made from its foliage.
Now I remember, its called ‘Alchemilla vulgaris,’ in herblore.
Often I’ve heard it’s a good tea to drink when expecting a baby.
There was a strange kind of message: to christen the babe with its dewdrops
…“Be not perturbed if your son disappears, for he has a long journey.
Cruel it may seem at first, but in time understanding will follow.
Know this for times will be coming to challenge your own strength of willing.”
My what a thought! Is it mine? It might come from that dream, I was dreaming
“If the new child is a girl, thought Johanna, I shall have no worry.”
For in the dream the new child is a son, who is destined to wander.
Eight months before her own husband had died in a mining disaster,
Dangerous was his life’s work in the mines, and his fate was to perish,
Trapped in a cave-in! ’Twas almost too much for Johanna to suffer.
Now if she lost the new child, t’would indeed be a difficult burden.
“Must he get lost to discover his path, that is strangely unsettling
Dreams do not always come true. Now I hope this one just was a nightmare.”
Soon this new child shall be welcomed to birth: may he learn and develop!
It proved to be that the child was a boy after all. He was healthy,
Nothing seemed wrong and she didn’t believe there would be any trouble.
Nevertheless did Johanna have Samuel baptized with dewdrops
Gathered in crystalline vessels – from leaves of the herb ‘Alchemilla’.
Every time that she left the babe’s cradle, a neighbor watched o’er him.
Sam was good natured and loved to be brought out to be in the garden.
Looking around at the world, he saw all of the beings of nature.
Happy he was. All seemed safe. Then one day they went out to the orchard,
She took the baby along for it was a fine day in the country,
Having discovered a tree full of apples, she reached up to pluck one.
Such a good apple, delicious. Why does it taste so unusual?
“I’ll try another”, she said, as she reached up to pluck off the next one.
While she was eating, the deed was accomplished, and Sammy went missing.
Somehow he must have crawled off, in the blink of an eye, he had vanished.
“Where is my child?” In an instant she knew it had happened – the nightmare.
No explanation was given that made any sense to the mother.
Strange disappearances still could occur, on the borders of Faerie,
Folks in the village despaired, for it seemed there was no way to find Sam.
Hope never left the poor mother, for she had her dream to remember:
“Be not perturbed if your son disappears for he has a long journey.”
She soon decided to make a herb garden and learn about plantlore.
So, through the years she became a good herbalist, helping and healing.
Remedies from the dried roots, leaves and blossoms were carefully given.
Daily she prayed that Sam be protected from harm on his journey.
Sammy had passed through a portal near Realms of the Fairies-Iota.
No one could see it but him, it was conjured to catch his attention.
Music was made to enchant him, indeed in a trice he had vanished.
Many years passed. Sam grew up to be twelve. He knew not his real nature,
Thought he looked just like the fairies – was treated with honour, respected.
They knew that Sam would ensure their survival; his music would heal them.
He became strong but alone; for the Fairies kept all of their secrets.
Music was his sole companion. The watery brooks became singing.
Bees that were humming changed into melodious patterns and phrases.
Reeds he could play, then the lyre; that he found in a box green and golden.
Somehow the fairies had known, he’d interpret the music of nature.
Much is revealed in their world, for they serve elemental progression.
That is, the ones who are linked with good forces in man and in nature.
Gnomes and undines, spritely sylphs and brave salamanders are busy.
Kindling the seedlings and strengthening roots, bearing leaves for fresh flowers,
Ripening fruits are only a few of the deeds they take part in.
Others, resentful of unthankful humans cause unforetold mischief,
They then lose forces for they lose their link to regenerate sources.
Recompense for the lost fairies consisted in hearing Sam’s music,
They didn’t care an Iota, if humans would miss their composer.
It gave them energy to carry on with the tasks that were needed.
Dancing was on in the meadows and Midsummer dreams were approaching.
Sam liked to see all the fairies rejoicing but something was missing.
He went to wander aloft: ’til upon a high hill he was seated,
Playing the sun as it rose, a red ball rising upwards in triumph.
It was that morning, Tri-Umph elemental first made his appearance.
After a while, Sam was dozing. He woke to hear voices of fairies.
Those of the good who would heal mankind’s ills if he only would let them.
New ones, he’d never encountered. They spoke of a boy-child enchanting.
Who learned to play on the golden-hued lyre – to interpret the sunrise.
Could that be I? Sammy thought; he became wide awake, and he listened.
“He does not know,” said the one, “that he’s human and baptized with dewdrops.
He would be able to leave anytime that he wanted, and enter
Finally into his birthright – to play the true stories of nature
Using his own golden lyre; so that people could hear and have comfort.”
Now he could do a free deed, could return to the world that he came from.
“What he must do is believe the good sylph ‘Alchemilla’ and enter
Through the stone portal at midday.” On hearing this strange conversation,
Sammy decided to do it; for long, he had wanted to conquer…
Feelings that there was a boundary, imposed upon him from the outside.
Unhappy fairies who wanted to be entertained by musicians,
Still would be able to hear him interpreting movement in nature.
Promising he would remember the fairies in his compositions,
Sammy was sure they would feel his compassion reviving their forces.
Mustering courage, to cross o’er the Portal he thought of his music.
Power of healing for humans. But all didn’t go as expected.
Long had he been with the fairies. Although he could run through the portal,
He could not tell any secrets, nor how the lost fairies had wronged him.
Fearing that Sammy would tell humans too much relating to fairies;
One of the Fairies Iota, had set a bad spell of confusion,
Just in case one day, he found his way back he would not be a bother.
Sam had forgotten the lyre in his hurry to run through the portal.
Umph elemental had gone. He’d remained with the golden-hued lyre.
Then Sam forgot where he’d come from. He managed to find a few berries,
Even a spring he could drink from, but he was not used to much climbing.
Lost on a hill in a woodland, and weak; there was no one to help him,
Somehow he knew that his pathway led over the mountains and eastward.
He became weaker and weaker, ’til finally he fainted from hunger.
That day, a wise woman found him, asleep and half dead in the meadow.
She somehow carried him home, to her cottage and gave him some porridge.
Living quite close to the borders of Faerie, the wise woman sometimes
Heard of strange happenings and had a lot of unusual experience.
After a week he felt better. She made him drink tea, sweet with honey.
It was the Lady’s-Green-Mantle, and strengthened his muscles for climbing.
She tried to get him to speak and to tell of his strange misadventure.
Mute he was, he could say nothing. He often heard marvelous music,
But where it came from, he knew not… Recovered he was in a fortnight.
Soon he must go on his way – which direction – he had no idea.
Clothing was given him, strength he had gathered. He knew he must travel.
Taking an arrow, he turned to the sunrise and loaded his bowstring.
Into the air went his arrow, flew eastward to meet the red mountains.
Now he’d discover his pathway. His life was a question to answer!
Thanking the wise woman, who understood he had reasons for leaving,
Sam took provisions. He now had a compass, he’d travel on eastward.
Three months he’d journeyed, when he met the blacksmiths; and it was late summer.
Autumn would soon bring cold winds; he’d have shelter and food with the blacksmiths,
Over the winter; he helped feed their fire, and they taught him to hammer.
Slowly he found he could form the hot iron and learned to make horseshoes,
For the first time he had friends. He met Michael and Henry and Phillip.
He couldn’t speak, but was friendly and easy to work with. They kept him.
In the small village they treated him kindly. He was a good helper,
Glad to be liked, growing stronger he worked with the iron and accepted
When he was offered a chance to begin as apprentice with wages.
Hammering, rhythmically hammering; seasons went by unattended.
Working became second nature to him. He’d forgotten his journey.
He sometimes wondered if something was missing but couldn’t remember.
One summer evening a bard came a-playing the lyre, singing ballads.
Sam realized that he wanted to do just exactly the same thing.
Full of attention, entranced with the music, he listened with pleasure.
He couldn’t speak, couldn’t sing, or remember his life with the fairies.
Something he felt was familiar and sad; but he couldn’t express it.
After the humdrum of hammers, the song words were all that he wanted.
He was determined to play on the lyre. He took leave of the blacksmiths;
Yet he could not find the bard, for he’d gone. No one knew where he’d traveled.
Some of the folks thought that Sam would get lost in the wildwood and perish.
Shaking their heads, they went back to their work, though they knew they would miss him.
He had discovered his lifepath. But where was the bard and his music?
Shooting the arrow again, at first Sam couldn’t find where it landed.
I am a fool, was his thought. Now I’ve lost my good arrow for nothing.
Hidden it was, in a tree hollowed out; he was able to find it.
When he spied something that glittered, he slowly approached the old tree trunk.
Sam could discern a small crystal and consonants etched in the hollow.
“Keep to the track, to find Umph,” was engraved… What a strange thing, he puzzled.
He had forgotten ‘Tri-Umph’ and that midsummer morning in Faerie.
Taking the crystal which gave off blue light, Sam continued to wander…
I was still eager to read on all night but the lantern had flickered.
We all came back to our senses, regretfully closing the volume.
“Wait,” exclaimed Connie to me. “I believe this is Tri-Umph. He’s with us!”
“Umph, at your service, I’m always the same,” said he, facing the children.
“You must be centuries old,” replied Connie. “At least,” said the Krienol.
One day I’ll tell you my story: the reason I came here to Sammy.
“Umph, we are grateful to you for preserving the treasure. He nodded.
“Midnight has come,” said Keith. “Shall we sleep for the few hours ’til sunrise?
Such an amazing account should be savoured and thought about often.
None of the family histories says anything so exciting.
How could it be? Perhaps nobody else would believe such a story…
Maybe we had to find out by ourselves. We are something like Sammy.”
They had brought tea in a thermos. And blackberries picked in the woodlands,
Crackers left-over from lunch. So at midnight they ate a late supper.
Yawning the children spread sleeping bags out on the floor of the cabin.
Bidding Tri-Umph a good night, Connie then fell asleep in the corner.
Soon she was dreaming with Umph glowing brightly above the old doorway.
Both Keith and I went outside where we greeted the bullfrogs harrumphing.
“Who would have thought such a story could really have happened?” I puzzled.
“Umph is the proof,” answered Keith, as we looked at the moon in the heavens.
We soon returned to sleep soundly, delighted with our new adventure.
Sunshine poured into the cabin. The wood burning stove had been started
Smoking a bit, it caught fire while Carol prepared us hot cocoa.
Later we toasted some bread and devoured cheese and apples with relish.
Peppermint tea we had made from a plant growing in the old garden.
During the day, Umph appeared like a sparkle – the air became brighter.
Washing the cups, we were eager to turn to the story of wonder.
Gathered again ’round the table, we opened the book and continued:
“On through the night, Sammy wandered, illumined by light from the crystal.
Spiral, the path that he followed, he marched in a rhythm through woodlands.
Higher he climbed, ’til he saw the sun rise from a high point midst treetops.
As he looked down he heard water; ’twas gurgling afresh from a streamlet.
There in the middle he saw a strange sight, a white staff stood in mid stream.
Wooden it was, and a-top, the forked tip, he espied: his friend Tri-Umph.”
All of us then stopped and stared straight at Umph, a light sparkle who twinkled.
“Umph, How’d you get there?” asked Connie. But I kept on reading the volume.
We’d never had anything quite like this happen, nothing so thrilling.
“And, in a flash, Sam remembered his time as a boy midst the fairies.
Umph had sat there on his knee, as he played on his lyre. For somehow,
When the red ball of the sun had arisen that Midsummer morning
Umph had appeared, as no more than a twinkle in pearly white sunlight.
Now Umph belonged with the lyre. And Sam knew he’d continue his journey,
He’d find the way to the lyre and never would lose it again.
He had discovered his work, he would play from the music of nature.
Thankful, he nodded and smiled: Now I’ve found you, my good Krienol comrade.
And we will journey, together, he thought, though no word did he utter.
Umph understood and rejoiced: “Now this staff is your own. I’ve been waiting.
Seeking we’ll go on your path. Take the staff from midstream and we’ll travel.”
Onward they marched through the day, ’til the seacliffs were visible to them.
High up above, Sam could see what appeared like a cave or a grotto.
My, I would like to be up there – the pathway’s so steep, I can’t climb it.
–Now in the daylight as usual, Sam could see Umph as a sparkle. -,
Evening light gave him glow. He was easy to see until sunrise.
As they arrived at the base of the cliff, the red sun was just setting.
How can I climb to such heights, was his question, while gazing up puzzled.
“You have a staff that can root. When you’re thinking: Staff, root, it roots firmly.
When you are thinking: Staff, loosen, then presto ’twill loosen. It’s bound to!
All you must do is to place it up higher, while thinking: ‘Staff root now.’
Following Umph’s good advice, Sam could climb up the seacliff like nothing.
Then came the brambles. At last he had managed to cross to the cavern.
“What is this here? I think it is a temple. Just look at the pillars!”
Suddenly Sam glimpsed a figure that vanished as he tried to follow.
It led him down a dark tunnel, emerging in shadowy spaces.
Starlight was twinkling about him. It must have been night time already,
There was a bridge, swinging over a chasm. Must he go across it?
Umph chanted brightly, “To march o’er the bridge to the end will take courage…”
Sam marched right over: A room carved in marble – the middle, a window-
Round as could be, opened into a scene, like a seascape with islands.
But it appeared to be real, and the bard, with a lyre on a sail boat,
Beckoned to Sam. “Come aboard.” He embarked on a trip he’d remember.
It was the bard in the shimmering pool, and they sailed to a story.
Sam had discovered the Wonder Tale Temple of yore, made for healing.
They were approaching a land of past ages, a Kingdom of Krienols,
Ancient ones who helped preserve and keep secrets of special importance.
Working along with the spirits of nature they planted the Urseeds.
Now the whole Kingdom lamented their King, who was mute and disabled.
Sam could soon see the small islands, and as the bard sang him the legend,
It was enacted in his seeing mind, just as if he were with them.
Strange were the rhythms that first met his ears, ’til he entered into them: