When as a youth at Caissa’s shrine I knelt
And marvelled at her magic, chequered maze,
At times, in deep euphoria I felt
That I could weave her weft for all my days.
But grim reality was ever near,
And though in turn I took my humble prize
The more I loved her, so too did I fear
That I, in truth, was nothing in her eyes.
And so it happened that I left her path
To wend my way far off the beaten track,
To seek my fortune and escape the wrath
Of marble queens and vengeful knights in black.
The Dragon’s fiery breath eluded me,
And quaint, romantic gambits played by kings
Were left to rust, the Frenchman’s legacy
And Greek gifts were left standing in the wings.
And yet, through all my travels down the years,
I never strayed so far as to forget
The pleasure in the pain, the smiles through tears,
And sometimes, even now, I still regret
The fact that I deserted her to chase
Another rainbow’s end where Fortune lies,
And where (as once with Caissa) I must face
The Cruellest Mistress in a sylph’s disguise.
[The Cruel Mistress was published originally in CHESS POST, August 1998, Vol. 36, No. 4].
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