Marvin Lurie

The Chick With The Golden Ball - A Postmodern Fable (After Tennyson, sort of)

Oh when the world was young and fire-breathed
Dragons roamed the earth, there was a great
And righteous king who ruled a vast domain.
A mounted knight with sun-bright arms could ride
With rainbow-colored silken banners high
And seek for months to see the sweep of land
From east to west and north to south that safe
Beneath that royal’s firm and goodly rule
Lay green and rich with game and forests thick.
Therein did live a happy, thriving folk
Who farmed the fruitful soil and grazed their flocks
Across the verdant plains.

                                  Throughout this land
There lived a clan of noble warrior lords
Who swore fealty to the mighty king.
From crenelated castles, vigilant
They daily rode to battle evil rogues,
To kill marauding dragons breathing fire
And keep this steadfast people free from dread.

A strong and many-towered castle stood
Above this blessed land. Within its halls
The king held court in chambers elegant
With tapestries of gold and silver threads,
Inlays of exotic woods, ivory and gems,
And lofty ceilings hung with honors, shields
And coats of arms from all the lords who swore
Allegiance to this worthy king; where many
Sumptuous feasts and glittering balls were held
For gentlemen and ladies clothed in silks
And fine brocades. Graceful and bejeweled they danced,
Savored sweet confections and discoursed until
The castle cocks arose to crow the dawn.

A princess fair with shining golden hair
In whose eyes, like lavender pools of enchantment,
A man could drown, never wishing to see
Any other light than the incandescence
Of her loveliness, was the treasured daughter of the clement king
And his comely wife, the queen. This princess fair
Presided over every ball and social whirl
Radiant in shimmering gowns and lustrous gems
Attended by a coquetry of vibrant maids,
All courted by the sons and nephews of the warrior lords.

All knights of high lineage, handsome and bold,
Strong at arms in tournaments, they vied
For the hand of the princess fair with all the arts
Of chivalry, yearning songs and verse, artful
Gifts and heartfelt vows of fidelity.
None moved her heart, she declined them all.

Her father, the gracious king, sent chargé d’affaires
To kingdoms far and wide to ask their princes
To attend the princess fair and plead their troth.
None pleased her.

                          It came to pass
One sunny day the princess fair played
On the castle lawn with her golden ball, a gift
Most precious from her father, the estimable king,
When suddenly the priceless ball slipped from her hand
And rolled across the castle lawn into
A pond.

Woe is me. Woe is me.”
The princess fair exclaimed. “I’ve lost my golden ball.
What shall I do? What shall I do?” she cried.

“Don’t cry fair princess,” a voice
Called out. “I will save your ball.”

It was the small green frog who lived
Beside the castle pond. He dove beneath
The water dark and found the golden ball.
The princess fair was overjoyed to have
Her precious ball returned and promised to the frog,

“Whatever in my kingdom you desire is yours as thanks
For your heroic deed.”

                              “Oh princess fair,
Oh princess fair, please have pity on me.
My life is lived in this damp place, no warmth
Or cheer is mine. For just one night I beg
To sleep within the castle walls where heated
Hearths drive out the baneful chill and damp.”

Compassion moved the princess fair. She wept
At frog’s unhappy fate and pledged to ease
His plight. She took him from his clammy pond reclining
On a shimmery satin pillow, resplendent as a prince
And bore him to the castle and placed him near the heated
Hearth in her royal bedchamber to spend his promised
Night. As it happened, this was not a simple frog
Residing in his natural state. In ages past
A wicked witch bewitched a noble prince
For thwarting her evil will and made him a frog
To live beside the castle pond until
An act of tenderness and love annulled the spell.
And so, upon the morn, the princess fair
Awoke to find, not the frog but the handsome
Prince beside her, with shining golden hair
And steely blue eyes to make a maiden weak
With desire. Forever after her mother,
The comely queen, never believed this tale.

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