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J.A. Aarntzen

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Excerpt from The Men From Faraway
by J.A. Aarntzen

Thursday, December 30, 2010
Rated "PG" by the Author.
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About a year ago I became very ambitious and tried to write an epic poetic piece that would be in the tradition of the great works of the Greek classics period. "The Men From Faraway" is the result of this effort. It is now complete and I intend to make it soon available as an AD book. The following is an excerpt from that work.


The Men from Faraway

 The Glade Cherubim
 
Cherubim traipsing through the glade
Naked to the overhead sun and not afraid
Gathering by the reedy reaches of the pool
Where they wade waist deep to keep cool
And they speak in their secret ancient tongue
Of the times when the whole world was young
When it was only peopled by those of their kind
And all of them could relish with peace of mind
But now that sublime paradise had come to its end
And the cherubim had to share their world with men
 
Parsley, the leader of the clan, let loose a sigh
For their time upon the land was growing nigh
Where they would go when it was all said and done
Could not be so fair, could not provide as much fun
As this wonderful world did when it was theirs alone
And their passions for this place were fully grown
But now regretfully they were being pushed to the side
Making room for the unstoppable boisterous human tide
The weary cherubim from the four corners of the Earth
Were all resigned to their deaths and not their rebirth
 
Yet there was the promise that they would all be reborn
To the land that is now home to the fabulous fabled unicorn
Where they could start again and commence their lives anew
But this world, Parsley had heard tell, had no morning dew
Nor did it have swaying grasses and the sweet song of birds
It possessed no poetry, no verse, nor any charm in words
There was no sun that brilliantly shone warmly in the sky
It was a world so gray that many cherubim preferred to die
But these were the terms that they had made so long ago
That after a splendid age of yes there would be an eon of no
 
Some of the cherubim sat obscured at the pool’s edge
How they occupied themselves was hidden by the sedge
Parsley imagined they were swayed by narcisstic charm
And that there was no reason for him to feel any alarm
But then there came unexpected and unannounced a gust
That revealed to Parsley that these cherubim had turned to dust
The furious wind began to erode the newly dead grain by grain
Until there was nothing left of them, not even a motley stain
The leader of the company took his horn and blew a shrill alert
He knew that only one thing that could turn his kind into dirt
 
These wee sprites splashing freely in the still waters of the pool
Had to have been espied by mortal eyes as they tried to keep cool
There was a cruel stipend that had been included in the grand plan
That a cherubim’s life becomes naught and void when seen by a man
Someone must have spotted them while they played and made sport
And with their eyes had boiled their blood and cut their lives short
Whomever had did this would have had to have been very near
For the pool was well-hidden and was not out in the open and clear
Parsley had sounded his horn not once not twice but was blown thrice
This was the signal to his people that they had to disappear in the rice
 
There may be a lurker out there concealed by the grassy fringes
Who was watching them and casting upon them evil cringes
The leader of the clan was worried and was not going to take any chance
On another of his tribe falling to ashes by such grim happenstance
He ordered his people not to move and lay still for more than an hour
While he, himself, would sneak about and through the foliage scour
For any hint of the mortal that had done this to his beloved cherubim
Parsley knew that there would be a mark that would show upon him
His eyes would be burned and their pupils will have turned bright red
This would be the indictment that would show brilliantly upon his head
 
And then Parsley spotted upon the knoll behind a tree the man he sought
The stranger bore the military robes of a distant land for which he fought
His beard was braided and his hair shorn to the contours of his floppy hat
His nose was small, his mouth wide, he held the demeanor of a tomcat
But it was not these features that struck the leader of the immortal sprites
It was the fiery brands that circled the orbs that once gave the man sight
These proved to Parsley that this was the culprit that had killed his people
This was the one that was no longer a danger for now he was enfeebled
For it was evident from where the leader stood that this man was blind
And could no longer be a curse upon Parsley and the rest of his kind
 
Yet the great leader of the clan knew that he could not give any compassion
For this stranger had willfully slew two of his satyrs in a hideous fashion
Blind or not, the man from the faraway was going to have to deeply pay
With his miserable life for the lives of the cherubim that was his act to slay
Parsley selected a special quiver from those slung over his shoulder
And strung this lethal arrow upon his taut bow and felt his heart grow colder
He became the hardened hunter given over solely to the passion of the kill
He cared not if the stranger was innocent; he aligned himself to his will
And metered out the sky and the ground as he carefully took his true aim
And let loose his quiver and watched it mercilessly take down his game
 
The stranger grasped his pierced heart where Parsley’s arrow had bored
He ripped it out of himself and with a savage cry let loose a chilling roar
And then he staggered in the direction from whence came the fatal dart
This warrior was bent on revenge and desired to tear his enemy apart
Even though his eyes had been blinded and he was remiss of his sight
This man from far away still had courage and wanted to put up a fight
Parsley found this admirable and blessed the man before he released
Another missile at him that this time finally made the stranger cease
He fell to the ground in a tumble and down the knoll his body slipped
Until it reached the pool and sank deep within the clear waters’ grip
 
With the death of the foreign warrior Parsley still did not feel assured
He remembered the cry of the stranger and whose ears that it allured
There had to be others of the man’s tribe somewhere within the vicinity
To whom the stricken fallen warrior had a claim of fealty and affinity
They would have heard their comrade’s bellow and have made haste
To come to his side and to his rescue and to fight and to lay waste
Upon those that had declared him a most egregious and a deadly foe
To them they would do battle and bring upon them damnation and woe
It was time for the cherubim to make leave of the pool within the glade
And seek asylum elsewhere before they fall victims to the madmen’s raid
 
No sooner had this realization come to him that they were in danger
When could be heard the tromp of horses carrying foreign rangers
Coming down the hillsides at a fierce pace, coming to heed a call
They would soon be here and learn of their companion’s grim fall
There was no time to tarry, the cherubim had to rush to make escape
They could not stand and fight against these warriors nape to nape
To the opposite side of the pool, Parsley hastened his frenzied tribe
Where they could find their gate that no mortal could ever describe
And through this portal they would scurry and come out miles away
That it would take their pursuers to reach in much more than a day
 
As they dashed recklessly over the lilies that riddled their beloved pond
The horsemen were drawing near and could be seen through the fronds
The enemy toted long spears and arrows aplenty on their steeds and backs
But these they would not need to carry out and exact their vengeful attack
All they needed to do was to look at the sprites and that would be enough
To take away the cherubims’ eternity and have them all die in the rough
Parsley had to ensure that no set of mortal eyes would espy any of his clan
He had them go under the pool’s surface and be out of sight from any man
And when they reached the other side they had to be certain to be concealed
And not to have any part of them no matter how small to men be revealed
 
One by one he saw his people pull out of the pool on the other side
And then through the reeds they would silently and stealthily glide
Until they found the secret portal that would take them to some far place
Where they would not have to fret over their lives and have some space
It was now his turn to make fast through the pond and look after his fate
But suddenly something happened and made him realize that he was too late
A net had been thrown over him by the approaching foreign men on horse
They had taken his chance for escape away and stolen his freedom’s course
As he struggled in the weir he wondered why he had not been turned to sand
Or why the horsemen screamed not with their eyes covered by their hands
 
“Hold him tight and do not look at him!” a thick voice uttered an order
“He will surely burn your eyes. He will make them bleed at their borders.”
Parsley looked through the strands of his net at a beast of a man on his steed
Garbed he was with armor of leather and chain that said he would succeed
And that there was nothing that the cherub could do to save his  sorry soul
And that this stranger upon the horse would make him pay a wretched toll
Yet the trapped leader of the sprites was sparked by a curious wonder
Why did not their eyes go blind, these foreign pirates of rage and plunder?
He had to put it to the test, it seemed to him the only thing that he could do
He crawled through the gaps of the weir and placed himself in full view
 
Prepared he was to have his essence solidify and become powder
Yet the only thing that changed was that their voices grew louder
When they saw him standing defiantly on top of the nets they cast
Why had he not disintegrated and gone on to the sweet ever last?
Why were the foreigners not screaming with terrible agony and pain?
He opened his eyes and the answer to his questions became very plain
These men from faraway wore special visors that protected their sight
And shielded them from the magic that could come from the sprite
The visors were forged from the unique chemistry of lead and glass
They let only light through and nothing else would be able to pass
 
A sad truth began to descend upon Parsley and made him give up
He could not harm them and they could drink from his life’s cup
They had him surrounded and there was no place that he could go
Lest he wanted to have an arrow strike him in his back from a bow
A plunge back into the pool would only ensnare him in their weir
And the men would haul him out like a desperate fish full of fear
The only option that he had that he could do was to plea for a truce
And pray that they would accept and spare him his spritely juice
He cleared his throat and hoped that they would understand him
And let him go so that he could return to the rest of the cherubim
 
“Harm me not and I will not harm you,” he said unto the throng
“This is the way that we can ensure that nobody is done wrong”
He cast his glance at the host of men and focused on just the one
The man with the barrow voice, the man who thought he had won
“I am Parsley of the Cherubim,” he announced, tapping at his chest
“I am leader of an ancient people and I stand before you all to attest
That if you wish to survive and witness the golden orb set this eve
That you should release me lest you desire to have your skulls cleaved
For I say unto you strangers from afar that it is I that rules this land
And that you shall beg for my mercy upon your miserable little band”

 

Storyteller on the Lake
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Reviewed by Donna Chandler 12/31/2010
An amazing undertaking ........... and very well done. I am left wanting to read more.

Donna



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