(Royal Challenge - Bardic Madness A. S. XXXIX)
A council of the Beasts was held, and there
Spake first a noble Stag, whose antler’d brow
And coat of white bespoke his lineage fair.
Quoth he, “Who is this Griffin fierce, and how
Comes he to rule upon our borders now?
Yet allies one must have. A stone I’ll send
Unto his coronation, as a friend.”
“The Griffin’s fame should not be taken light,”
The Wolf replied. “If ye would cross him, hark:
His talon’s sharp. In forests black as night
The rush of wings o’erhead we hear, and mark
The Griffin’s passage through the velvet dark.
But we’re at peace; our folk untroubl’d sleep
Where Griffin doth his lonely vigil keep.”
A fearsome Lioness growled, “I was there
As honor’d guest with crown upon my head,
When all the folk did to him fealty swear.
They love him well, methinks fear not to tread
In’s presence, where a coward would but dread.
Yet am I glad,” went on the tawny Queen,
“The Falcon’s miles lie him and us between.”
The Falcon quoth, “Brothers in arms are we.
Though first I was to leave the Dragon’s lair,
Ere kinsman Wolf did run, Griffin fly free,
My sire I’ve stood beside in times both fair
And foul. Still Griffin stands with us; few dare
The wicked talon or sharp tooth abide
When Dragon and his sons hunt side by side.”
“He is a worthy foe,” the Tyger roared,
“Who fears not sword to wield nor axe to ply.
When summer’s breezes bring the Dragon horde
With panoply of war our skill to try,
Proud stands he, dealing death, nor fears to die.
The Northland’s driving snows and icy blast
Have temper’d his resolve: he is steadfast.”
“I’m proud of him, my child,” the Dragon said.
“Great has he grown in prowess and in fame.
I nurtured him till strong young wings him led
To seek new skies, to’s heritage lay claim.
All thrill to hear the mighty Griffin’s name.
Rejoice, my brethren! Honor to him lend:
‘Tis glad I am to call him son – and friend.”
Donna L. Armistead © 2005