Appointed, rich, of wide renown,
He pathed the lands all round the town
One day his gold and opulence to count.
Dark and bleak that gray sky
And snow’s quick bite did shuffle by
While warm and dry he sat upon his mount.
Of haughty air and haughty mind,
With finest velvets, silks and fine
Upholstery to ward him from the cold,
He sat, watched and smiled to see
That in his far flung luxury
All was given to the quick and bold.
As he rode the snow flew fast
And winter’s breath gave forth a blast
Of ice and cold that brought him quick to hand.
Dark form ahead half hid in snow
Marked the prince; he had to know
Who had dared to sully taken lands!
Shoulders set and eyes aglare,
He turned a stout and icy stare
Upon a figure plying beggars game.
Skin and lips touched blue with cold
The prince astonished did behold
A man who sang before a small poor flame.
Dark dressed in rags, his boots were torn
Long hair of gray o’er face careworn
Still his smile contained a note of glee
As with a wide and winsome grin
He gestured to his flame again
And spoke aloud “Sire won’t you please join me!
“Get you down, I’ll sit with you
And share my pot of lovely stew
Rich with herb and meat to fill your need.
“We’ll sing a happy song or two
And celebrate the long day through
That fortunate and bless’d we are indeed!”
The prince, amazed, did get him down
And silent, watchful, looked around
For that which might to make a beggar sing.
Naught he saw that would recall
Even a hint of such sweet song
Nor to a beggar smile so warm to bring.
The beggar glanced with eyes clear blue
Upon the prince that did eschew
To sit and sup a food so very ill.
The prince then turned a furrowed brow
Upon the beggar to ask him how
A man so sorely tried could smile still.
“Tell me now and say in truth
How it is that such as you
Might cause to sing and to great merry make
“When all I see in all of this
Is flying snow and wind’s harsh kiss
And not a bit of good warm food to bake!
“I see your pot in fire low
And by its smell do I know
That only water and root sit within!
“How can it be that you make merry
O’er such poor sup and still you tarry
Though snow and ice fly in this horrid wind?”
For the first time in his life
The prince did look upon such strife
As caused his icy heart of stone to ache.
“Tell me true man if it be
That in the mind touched are thee
Then better this affliction I may make.
“Old and gray and most infirm
You seem to be and so I yearn
To take you to a spot both warm and safe.”
“Tis sad truth most men believe
And there have quarrel to conceive
That such as I can find so pure a peace.
“A beggar aye, and in clear truth
That most fervent since my youth
Have I often longed rich gain’s release.
“But never since my manhood day
Has a single copper seemed to stray
Within this empty hand that always reached.
“So I was obliged to sally forth
And there discovered that of course
One needs not wealth or gold to make him rich.
“A bright clear day and glorious morn
To make man glad that he is born
To witness mighty wonders such as this;
“That in each white and pure small flake
Did the Master deign to make
Such beauty as a man cannot conceive.
“This cold breath that flows within
The chest of man to keep with him
The spark of life again the Master gave.
“Hawk on high and hart abound
That we might sit without a sound
To watch a wondrous play not ever staged!
“How can it be in all of this
That if I sit and seem to miss
A single meal or sleep could I then rage,
“When all I need to make me full
Are open eyes and ears to pull
A feast complete to cool the hottest ire?
“So might it be that now you know,
And so I ask you not to go.
Instead come sit and visit by my fire.”
And thus a man of wide renown
Rich and aloof throughout the town
Did sit and sing in snow and wind so grave.
Opened heart and opened mind
He turned in silence deep to find
His friend the beggar staring out the day,
Eyes open wide and fading blue,
Snowflakes on lashes and he knew
His friend of so short time had gone away.
Cold tracks he felt upon his face
As down his cheek the tears did trace
A warm wet trail of great and unknown grief,
And so he sat and cried alone
Beside the fire and the prince did know
That by far the poorer man was he indeed!