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Hilltop: A Literary Paper. Volume 1 Number 1

A Ballad of the Sunburnt Mountain

A Ballad of the Sunburnt Mountain

When the vaulting witch was killed
And the fairy spirit freed
The dank and downy island where
They lived was given to itself;
No one to pray the magic prayer,
No one to live by hate or stealth.

The fens were dry where Sycorax
Would sweep her dewy raven's wing,
The depth of green and sweating ferns
Lay withered by the lofty sun;
The sky that kills, the light that burns
Took the island for its own.

A sailor in some errant ship
Would see—and could not bear the sight—
A brown and fiery mountain round
Which waves could only sleep in fear.
He'd sail away, his lips would sound
The fright of that deserted lair.

A thousand years had entertained
The shadow of the witch's curse
Until a ship came stumbling by,
A coracle so frail a man
Would scorn it were the gods not nigh
And were he not beneath their ban.

Ulysses, Drake, Columbus, he
Was all of them and yet was not
Innured to ocean time and space.
And so to him the mountain smiled
And so before him spread its grace.
So was his ship beguiled.

He trod there only one. There sprang
Unearthly laughter to his ears.
The mountain put on leaves and grass
And harvest tumbled to the earth.
He could not cat, he could not laugh
For this had all the joy of birth.

And he had always lived apart
From such fine lust as here he saw,
And grown a landsman, copying
The dullness of his tired soil.
He thought before he fled, a thing
That lived afloat could bear this toil.

So now the fens are dry again,
And there's no poisoned dew to sweep,
And all the green and sweating ferns
Lie withered on the barren strand.
The brown and fiery mountain burns
Forever lost to sea and land.