At Tintagel The legend of what happened on a stormy night at Tintagel is endlessly intriguing. Supposedly, Merlin transformed Uther Pendragon to look like Gorlois so that he could sleep with Ygraine, the lovely wife of the unlucky duke. While Uther was enjoying Ygraine’s lovemaking, Gorlois was off getting himself killed. The question is: did Igraine suspect that her lover was not her husband? Regardless, Arthur was the child conceived out of this supernatural (?) encounter. That night, at Tintagel, there was darkness such as man had never seen . . . darkness and treachery, and the unholy thundering of the sea . . . In his arms, who can say how much she knew? And if he whispered her name . . . “Ygraine” . . . could she tell above the howling wind and rain? Could she tell, or did she care, by the length of his hair or the heat of his flesh, . . . that her faceless companion was Uther, the dragon, and Gorlois lay dead? Isolde’s Song After the deaths of Tristram and Isolde, a hazel and a honeysuckle grew out of their graves until the branches intertwined and could not be parted. Through our long years of dreaming to be one we grew toward an enigmatic light that gently warmed our tendrils. Was it sun? We had no eyes to tell; we loved despite the lack of all sensation—all but one: we felt the night’s deep chill, the air so bright at dawn we quivered limply, overcome. To touch was all we knew, and how to bask. We knew to touch; we grew to touch; we felt spring’s urgency, midsummer’s heat, fall’s lash, wild winter’s ice and thaw and fervent melt. We felt returning light and could not ask its meaning, or if something was withheld more glorious. To touch seemed life’s great task. At last the petal of me learned: unfold. And you were there, surrounding me. We touched. The curious golden pollens! Ah, we touched, and learned to cling and, finally, to hold.
Michael R. Burch’s poems have been published by hundreds of literary journals, taught in high schools and colleges, translated into fourteen languages, incorporated into three plays and two operas, and set to music by seventeen composers.
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