Orien: The Voyage

Ocean favored his sail with wind and gentleness.
Behold his leather boat, scudding across the deep,
his eye on the osprey, the brown feathered flyer.
He passes the Lastrocks, out in the Eastern sea,
avoids doom that waits there, the churning doom of ships,
its waiting destiny, the place where the world ends.
The waves bore him kindly over Nan Dornon reef,
Orien’s barrier, our wall against the sea,
defense against strangers, the wrack of all sailors.
Death waits there in the reef, the talons of drowned men,
and the spikes of coral that long for human flesh
and long to taste ship-oak, the best food in the sea.
Yet he came to safety, Avren the bright Heron,
beloved of the moon, destined to be a king.
The north current took him and bore him to good land.

Past Barra’s craggy shores, and Mardien’s best beach —
he saw both these islands, but made no landings there –
and past the mighty bulk of Orien the Great,
the north current took him and bore him to good land.
How his rudder failed him, that he turned to the shore!
and how the winds held him, that they kept him from land!
His crew, they smelled the breeze, the pear-flower wind.
The north current took them, and bore them to good land.
Never on Orien, nor on broad Arduvel,
did Avren the Heron come anywhere to land.
The North’s little islands all turned him from their strands,
he came not to the shore of any such a place:
the north current took him, and bore him to good land.
The tiller obeyed him, and carried him to shore,
set him here on Alba of the seven mountains.

Thunder was his herald, this noble of the sea,
who made the Long Passage without knowing its end.
He wore the crimson hood from the day he arrived,
though no guildman gave it, nor vested him with gloves.
He knew navigation, the wiles of Ocean;
he feared not the three moons, nor the wandering stars,
nor the constellations that govern the seasons
and the shaping of men. He kept his tiller true.
Now he lay most weakly, upon the narrow strand,
surrounded by his men, a crew of brave sailors
who trusted their captain, nor shirked any order.
They drew his vessel up, away from crashing waves,
above the high tide line, away from rolling surf.
Three lines secured their boat, and they lay like dead men,
on the strand of Alba, the seven-mountain land.

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