Orien

This came to me last night while I was prepping for the end-of-year party. The words are Inaradd the king’s, but I have no idea who he is speaking to. Comments welcome.

“Princes will come to my funeral,
and nobles of rank will ring my bier;
but they will set torch to the pyre
with but few regrets and fewer tears.
I am a king and I am not kind,
and only the simple will mourn me.
But your sons will carry your casket
home to your barrow by your fathers
who rest in the grave-field by your house.
Your friends will attend your obsequies,
and cast clods of earth into your grave.
Men will praise your deeds with honest words;
even your rivals will respect you
and ungrudgingly give you your due.
Yes, kings will mark my passing from life,
but they will revel in my dying,
knowing how I kept them on the leash.
But your journey to the dim, dry land
will start with a stately procession
and men you have known forty winters
and women you knew an afternoon
will come in droves to bid you farewell.
I envy you that, gentle harper,
even more than I envy the ship
that bears you on the gull-winged waters,
with spray in your beard, breath in your breast
and your hand on the long-armed tiller!
If I could go to Ocean again,
and not bend my backside to the throne
nor cramp hands with the law-giver’s pen,
I would rise from this throne and depart,
and never set foot again on land,
but take long passage to Ardalis
and see dark Daesena one last time.”

I haven’t written anything connected with Orien in more than a year, and suddenly this came up into my memory last night about 6pm. But of course, I was on my way out the door. So I didn’t write it down, thinking even as I left and didn’t write, that it was a mistake. It wasn’t. It was still pounding in my head three hours later, and even still when I got up this morning. So here it is, where I need it to be, for now.

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