King Crypto And Laplander Enigelle

Oh, moody minstrel, hazier stillThan the old wine wedding guests toast,Ribbons and gold reward thy skill,Lavishly granted by the host. Come, self-willed minstrel, cast thy spell,Gather thy ample voice and singAbout Laplander EnigelleAnd ancient Crypto, mushroom-king. "Best wedding guest,Thy feast so rich my tongue has chipped, Oh…And yet, before I take my rest,I'll sing of Enigelle and Crypto." "Sing, minstrel, sing…Your song burned hot one summertime ago;Now, pray, sing softly, whispering,In this here chamber, ere I go…" â˜¼ By woodlanders fervently soughtIn riverbed and miry clay,King Crypto of the Fungi Court,Obscure at heart, was holding sway, Enthroned on everlasting dew…His fungus folk believed, forsooth,There lived a toadstool-witch who knewThe fountain of eternal youth, While evil snowdrops, violets bluePopped out of holes, their language vile,And called him barren, vicious, too,For he would not become fertile. In distant lands of ill-starred iceThere used to dwell a Lapland belle,Petite and exquisitely niceAnd garbed in furs, named Enigelle. From wintering to luscious springBorne by reindeer through the young yearAll southward bound, moist air around,She paused upon moss-covered groundWithin chaste Crypto's green frontier. In Crypto's glade, on rugs of shadeShe went to sleep, purring away;The little king of glabrous skinAnd his old eunuch came to bringHer strawberries upon a tray: "Enigelle, Enigelle,Have some strawberries, pray, here…They are sweet, good to eat,Take a few in your pannier." "I bow down to the groundFor the offer you carry,Yet can't stay – on my wayI'll pick fruit… Now I can't tarry." "Enigelle, Enigelle,Night is waning, light draws near,If you must move on fast,Pick me first, I pray thee, here…" "Wish I could, o, gentle King…See the dawn's advancing stripe?You're a sappy, tender thing,You can't take what light might bring –You must wait until you're ripe." "Can't get ripe, Enigelle,I can't face the wild sun's glare –It's a nightmare straight from hell,Red and burning, I can't bear,Spotted with an evil spell…Pray, forsake it, Enigelle,In sweet slumber and cool air." "Alas, what have you done, King Crypto?The poison that your words have spreadHas hit me, and my heart is gripped, oh,For shade is what I mostly dread.I may be hatched in winter's womb,The polar bear may be my kin,Yet I have parted with the gloomAnd now I hail the sun as king. By lamps of ice, beneath the snows,My pole is dreaming the same dream –A precious gong of gold that glows,All streaked with green around the rim. I worship Sun with utter zestFrom deep within my fountain-soul,The white wheel spinning in my chestPervades me with its aureole. While sunshine makes my wheel increase,Flesh clings unto its shady shore,And slumber does curtail its lease,Which wind and shade again restore." Thus spake, her voice a tiny bell,The righteous damsel, Enigelle…Time, nonetheless, would run its course –The sun erupted in full forceAnd from above, its fire fell… "Weep, thou, sagacious Enigelle!How can poor Crypto, fungus king,Withstand the sun's relentless sting?"Said he, as helplessly he fellAway from Lady Enigelle,To seek relief 'neath shadow's wing. The sun, a burning globe of fire,Was mirrored in the king entire,Was mirrored ten times, deep insideKing Crypto's shiny, glabrous hide. And sour went his sweet, sweet sap,His heart obscure broke with a snap,Accurséd venom, dark red oilBeneath his skin began to boil,Burst the ten life-seals with their toil. For too much sun is hard to standBy fungus bred on forest land;The soul's deep waters are releasedIn man alone, the ancient beast,Whereas in creatures more fragileThought is a chalice full of bile, As in the tale of mad King Crypto,Whose heart obscure by fire was stripped, oh,And afterwards he went astrayWith mates of kinglier array – The subtle, cold serpent of old,To spread the world around with gold,To squander it in rites obsceneWith Lady Mandrake – bride and queen. A mathematician (professor at the University of Bucharest) who thought of poetry as "an extension of geometry," Ion Barbu (1895-1961), whose work is regarded as the epitome of hermetic poetry in Romanian literature, wrote this poem in his "balladic-Oriental (Balkan)" period (1921-1925).

by Ion Barbu (1895-1961)