Bohemian legends and other poems/The Wizard





Through the dark and lonely forest,
Sparingly the sunlight fell;
Round the forests, rocky mountains,
Where the eagle’s brood doth dwell;
By a little stream of water,
In a cave amidst, the rocks,
Dwelt the wizard of Podjokly,
Old and bent, with snowy locks.

Far and wide they came to see him,
Asking help, and begging aid;
And ’twas said he could do wonders—
But he must be richly paid.
When the shades of evening gather,
Like a dark cloud in the sky,
Once there came a muffled figure,
Hid from every prying eye.

Wizard, can your magic tell me,
What his fate was who wore this?
Name your price, but tell me truly,
Is your knowledge up to this?”
In his hand he placed a locket
With a curl of golden hair.
Name your price but tell me truly,
Where is he who owned this hair?”

Then the wizard lit his fire—
Took his hood and drew his spell.
Then he said, “The youth’s voice whispers
From the ground where he doth dwell.

Listen—do you hear the whisper—
He was killed by murder foul!
And his murderer hid the body
Near a cave where foxes howl.”

Wizard, can you say who killed him—
He who was my ford on earth?
Name your price, but tell me truly,
Does he still live on the earth?”
Then the wizard rose up stately,
And said slow, “Accursed one!
Do you doubt my magic power—
You are that accursed one!”

Yes, you killed your stripling nephew,
To inherit his broad land;
And you come here but to question
If detection is at hand.
Do you dream to cheat a wizard,
As you cheated that poor lad?
Yes, detection dogs your footsteps,
You shall see the murdered lad.

Never from this forest’s shadow
Shall you wander out again;
Even now they bring his body;
With your dagger he was slain.”
At these words the muffled stranger,
With a shriek rushed to the door,
But he fell back, swooning, fainting,
At the burden that they bore.

Half devoured by the foxes,
Lay the lord of vast estate;
On his knees a raving madman,
Laughed his uncle o’er his fate.
Through the dark and somber forest,
Home they bore the murdered youth;
But his uncle left that forest,
Nevermore on earth, forsooth.