The Jester.

Once upon a time, a long time ago in a kingdom far far away, there lived a young Jester of the court. Found as a child by the king’s men living on the streets of the kingdom, he had no family.

The King, a harsh and humorless, did not like the Jester’s antics, and never wanted the Jester to play for him.

His daughter, however, a fair and golden child, would always cry out for him. “Jester!” she would say, clapping her hands together. “Sing me a song!” she’d demand, for the Jester’s voice was sweet, and his words were poem.

The Jester would traipse out in full motley, bells ringing with every step. He’d begin to do a little dance. “But I can dance and prance and juggle and fall, flip here or there or walk up the wall!”

But the Princess would stomp her foot and shake her head. “Sing me a song!” She would insist.

“Very well,” the Jester would say, bowing deeply. He would draw a deep breath, flourish a lute from apparently no where, and start to sing.

Oh spring of springs that is ere to last,

from thy wet false winter to equinox past,

Oh shade of green, and wild flowers so bright,

soft hued sun, and sweet gentle night

Oh the banner of youth that is destined to fade

Oh fresh budded tree, and dewy grass blade

Pass ever so slowly, and may thy days be long

For I praise that sweet spring dream in song.

The princess would then cackle with glee. She didn’t know what all the words meant, but to her they were beautiful.

Years would pass, and the King married off his daughter to a distant lord. She was not allowed to take the Jester, but the king could hardly bring himself to throw him out. So the Jester would languish at court staying out of sight and quiet. Then one day he received a letter, years later.

Dear Jester,

All is well, and I am to give my lord an heir! He asked me if there was something I wanted, and all I could think of was a song from you. Come to my lord’s court, sing me a song!

Princess

The Jester made his way to her kingdom and was greeted by a stern looking Lord. But sitting next to him was the Princess, now a bit older and every bit as lovely.

“Come Jester come, are you tired from your journey?” The princess asked, her voice bright and cheery. “No m’lady” the Jester responded.

“Then sing us a song!” she cried, imitating herself from when she was younger. The Jester began to do a little dance. “I can’t flip and flop and tumble and on my head stand. But I can make coins disappear with but a flick of my hand!” The Princess rolled her eyes and sighed a little. “Yes yes, very impressive but give us a song! Sing me a song!”

“Very well,” the Jester said, bowing deeply. He drew a deep breath, flourished a lute from apparently no where, and started to sing.

Oh summer, sweet summer of much longer days

from thy bright and bold sun to the heat of malaise

Oh warm tepid nights, when the nightingale sings

and the soft cool comfort the noon breeze brings

Thy touch is warmth, a mother’s embrace

the flowers that bloom are thy ever fair face

Thy eyes are shallow pools, heated by days long.

and thee I praise them and sing them in song.

The Princess smiled, a content smile. and seemed to drift off for a moment. The Lord clapped his hands and smiled, and bid the Jester to stay. The Jester politely declined, and walked away.

Years past and the old King died, as did the Lord. The Princess was now Queen Regent as her son grew. Her heart grew heavy with worry and responsibility but she managed the kingdom with grace and skill. Still, she thought of Jester and how lovely his songs were and how they eased her mind. She assembled her finest knights to find the Jester and bring him to her.

A few days later, a knight returned walking his horse. The Jester was perched on its back, cackling with childish glee at the ride.

He flopped to the ground, motley bells ringing, and made a deep bow.

The Queen looked at him and smirked ever so slightly. “My sweet old Jester, sing me a song.”

The Jester began to do a little dance. “My hands are slower now, that much is true. But I’ve tales to tell, of adventure daring-do!”

The Queen smiled a softer smile, “Perhaps later, my Jester, for now, sing me a song…”

“Very well,” the Jester said, bowing deeply. He drew a deep breath, flourished the lute but she saw where he had kept it, and started to sing.

Oh autumn, dear autumn, when the sun settles low

From the change in the season does crisp air blow

Standing tall beneath thy crown of leaves golden

for the lovely are thy trees, a marvel beholden

harvest bounty abounds, it is time for the feast.

for thy hard days are ending, and thy burdens released

Oh autumn thou days maybe shorter than long

but I hail the joy they bring in my sad song.

The Queen smiled, and her eyes were bright. She had forgotten how lovely the Jester’s voice was. “Will you stay with me?” she asked but the Jester shook his head.

He bowed deeply, then spun and left, without saying a word.

Years later the Queen felt that her days were leaving here. Her son ruled as king, and was wise and kind. He doted on his mother, giving whatever she wanted. One day, he found her still abed, her breathing was soft and slow. She beckoned for her son to come near. “What is it you wish mother?” He asked, taking her hand.

“There was a Jester, I knew in my youth, he was not much older and ma yet still be alive. Bring him to me, for I loved his songs.”

The King gathered his knights and his council and asked them about the Jester. His Consular, who was the knight that gathered him up before stepped forward.

“This Jester still lives, but is quite old, and some say mad. I’ve been following him for years, in case I was ever to bring him back.”

The King bid the Consular to bring the Jester back, and the Consular left. He returned three days later with the Jester in tow.

The King bid the Jester welcome and brought the old fool to his mother’s bed. “Jester,” The Queen rasped. “Sing me a song, please?”

The Jester did the slightest of dances. “My body is tired, my hands are slow and I can no longer fiddle. Perhaps I could favor you with a clever riddle?”

The Queen smiled. “A short one, Jester, and then a song…”

The Jester beamed, he seemed to grow five years younger. “What burns with out burning, yearns without learning, beats without drumming and sings without humming?”

The Queen thought for a moment. “The heart” she said at last.

If the old Jester could’ve done a back flip he would’ve. He smiled, slowly drew his lute and began to sing.

Oh winter, cold winter thy northernly doth wind blow

You’ve got untold grace beneath thy soft snow

Thy remembers untold numbers without any hints

for thy memory is trail upon trail of footprints

How pristine is thy beauty at the end of thy year

Hold tight and make warm those that thou hold dear

For the time of thy days are glimpses of what was long

and I sing of thy year in the humblest of song

The Queen smiled, a peaceful smile, and drifted off to sleep. The Old Jester made a small bow and cast a sad glance at the King. The King nodded at him and bid him to stay. The Jester sadly shook his head and walked into the winter, never to be seen again.