2011/12/24

The King's Christmas


The King's Christmas 
(Des Königs Weihnacht)
by 
Ottokar Kernstock
(translated - rather freely - by my humble self)

Image Credit

The King's Christmas

With lords and knights and lieges within a marble hall
sat once a wise old king during the nights Yule Ball.
And someone said 'Be merry! Think back and tell -I pray-,
my lords, of long gone years' most splendid Christmas Day'

'It was the night' one started while smiling happily,
'my beloved wife was decking out our first own Christmas tree.'
Another named the sightly fir he laborously felled,
which later on his only child's rejoicing gaze beheld.

'Most of all' broke in a third one 'I value that one date
honor and wealth bestowed upon me my kings and lieges blade.'
And one after the other had his Christmas story told,
the king alone was silent, his hands in thought were fold.

'Won't you, Sire, tell us' implored the chancellor,
'what kind of Christmas wonders for you most splendid were?'
The sound of far-off churchbells floated through the hall,
the king sat dreaming, listening, then raised his head in talk:

'It was a year of hardships, of sickness, painful, cruel,
the crown upon my brow had been robbed of most it's jewels.
Shattered on the ground lay the remains of my work,
the states' ship with a broken mast was sailing through the dark.'

'Foes and fiends united, my peoples anger rose,
the game seemed utter hopeless, the king as good as lost.
I fled the hate and ire at one dark-cold nightfall
seeking refuge in the Shire, behind my castle walls.'

'Quite suddenly - a chapel amidst the icy trees
I came upon and realised that I had lost my ways.
Snow was falling thickly on roof and against glass,
a husky bell was calling believers to the mass.'

'Slowly I dismounted and stepped forward through the gates,
the walls were grey and faded, the timbers wet and stale.
And forged by uncought hands from brittle wooden strips
I saw in the far corner a pitiful, wretched crib.'

'Within this little casket lay bare and sickly bland
the poorest Christ Child ever beheld in my fair land.
Its form was lit by candles flickering in the wind,
it was watching me approaching, with eyes alive and kind.'

'Those eyes - like suns as shining! - told me yonder lore:
'I too did wear a crown - of much more weight than yours.
My might, it has been fading, besieged was my throne,
my peope did betray me, my cross I bear alone.'

'Be still, be still a moment and ponder on this thing:
Not only might and blood are markings of a king.
Ill-fortune, persecution, defeat and heresy
will be measure to the nature of your true majesty.'

'This said the child while smiling. I'd fallen on my knees,
prayed to the Lord and Master with meek and sincere pleas.
My downcast eyes were crying, tears falling, fast and round
and while their salt was stinging, it also healed the wounds.'

'The nights' storm was slowly dying, quiet fell around the church
a starlit sparkling heaven gazed down upon the earth.
'This was' I said while mounting my horse and turning home
'the most enchanting Christmas since I have claimed my throne.'

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