Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Guslar's Song

"Ouch! That hurts!" I was 11 years old and at the end of my rope. My younger sister had pricked the back of my neck with a Hawthorn (I stress the thorn) needle for the last time. "If you do that again I will return you to the dust whence you came, so help me I will." I said emphatically and with voice audible to my father, Kimeril, the leader of our little village. His response was characteristic if not predictable verbatim. "Crill (that's me) my boy, what has got you so wroth?" He dealt plainly. Continuing he said, "If you do well, should you not be accepted? And if you do not well, does not sin lie at the door in wait to be your master?" "You say so always when she bids my anger, what of her deeds? What of her acceptance?" My heart cried back to the father who loved us both so. "Your sister Storm is but 4 hears old, not having reached the age of knowing." He reminded, adding, "We must correct her with kindness, understanding her need for attention while showing her your need not to be pricked. Pricking her harder only teachers her to prick you harder still, given the chance." The smile that then grew on Storm's face caused me to suppose that the age of knowing was in need of some adjustment.

Nearly dusk now the large bon fire ringed with stones in the center of our village was already brightly a flame. Most of the families were assembled and the Guslar was in a meditative trance. He hummed an erratic tune while making random utterances unrecognizable to my ear. Yet, it was highly prvocative, captivating my attention as I soon had forgotten all about Storm's pricking.

It was another cool dry night and because of my father's position we always had a fantastic spot both near the fire and near the Guslar's small stage. I had never before heard or seen this one so it was with great anticipation I observed his preparation to orate the nights story. He was small in stature but wide in girth. His skin was of darker complexion with a salt and pepper beard cut back to a fingers width form his wrinkled face. Obviously older than most while being agile enough to navigate the short staircase to the stage with ease, he even had a bounce to his step.

He moved to stage center. Facing the audience, he lowered his head, folded his hands and was silent. A hush fell over the village. He slowly raised his wide eyed gaze to the heavens, stretched out his arms with open hands and began:

Looking unto the sky this night as in nights past
I see the dreamy points of light so deep and vast, I wonder.
Is that story spake of old,
when created we are told,
All that is seen and held and known, earth flame wind stone
Be He true over waters deep, moved to entreat, I wonder.

Perfect Word's womb, gives birth the world, life's waters lo
"Let there be light" darkness is night, and it was so, I wonder.
Waters divide on command,
Firmament rise by His hand,
Universe abounding, by His will unfolding
Heaven prepared by Him we receive, yea we believe, and wonder.

By His voice, gathered the waters unto the sea.
Bestowed waves for the tide, dry land does now abide.
Who on baited breath awaits,
What next will He create?
By His call, the earth brings forth grass and seed in kind.
And herb and fruit supplied, trees appear that we now find.

By His verse exist the lights in heaven so placed.
For the markers each a sign, seasons passing, keeping time.
Which way to go, be not lost,
For heaven declares your path.
By His wisdom making the greater ones so spaced.
The rulers day and night marking steps showing right.

Commanding waters that abundantly quicken
In their very beings the code so is written,
Making the kinds fish and fowl,
Great whales He does allow.
Spake He, multiply all kinds to so fill the earth
The measure be but five days now since the world's birth.

Over the land be it heard, His thunderous voice perturbs,
All kinds of creature - beast, cattle, creeping things - bring forth!
the time at last has now come
Spirit creates blessed ones
By His very breath and in His perfect image
Only look on one's face to see the Lord's visage

Speaks to man whom He made, His glory well displayed
Dominion be yours with the woman as help meet
given herb bearing seed; eat
with fruit yielding trees; meat
On the sixth day the earth stood, God saw all was good,
Seventh day, words compleate, sanctified task replete
Almighty rests work done, I wonder, wonder on.

Such was the Guslar's opening rhyme. He went on that night to tell in a grand song the epic of the great and awesome flood, which God had sent on the earth to destroy all flesh. He recounted, of course, that it had been man's sinful nature what brought about this catastrophic event and that only Noah his sons and their wives escaped on an ark of their own construction. Foretold by god himself, they had prepared the great ship to specification and brought aboard animals of every kind. The entire earth was covered with water that had been released from the heavens and the caverns of the deep.

Months past before the earth began to settle and the waters asswaged. With much authority he sang of how the world was now vastly different than before the deluge. The large spans of sand and salt so inhospitable in our time were nonexistent in the original creation. Along with the scars and tears they are products of the cataclysmic events surrounding the virtual destruction of man. For if it were not that "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord", then man would have been utterly removed. As it was, now man would barley cling to life by the sweat of his brow and the providence afforded him not by his good deeds but by the grace to come.

Although the story had been long and the hour late, I had managed to stay awake threw to the end. And with Storm draped close to our mother's form as she held her dear, check to rosy check, the precious girl's legs a sway with mother's gait, Kimeril carried me, my arms wrapped at his neck, legs tucked to his arms, on his back to our home in the village and the gentle peace of a nights sleep.

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