For some, the play of life becomes a battle.
For others, wisdom lies in gales of laughter.
A sullen grey-beard stirs the dying embers,
The wistful remnants of his night of dreaming:
A rendezvous with his most cherished lover
Whose phantom kisses gave the lie to Fate.

What conscience is more stained than bloody Fate?
The centuries are sordid tales of battle,
And misery too oft' becomes a lover
When Madness dons its cloak of leprous laughter
To walk among the waking and the dreaming,
And Hate leers with its mocking eyes of embers.

How many lives must end in bitter embers?
Is this the price for those who'd hide from Fate?
The waking life is not the life of dreaming;
To reach one's ends, one often must do battle
With circumstance. But meet your foe with laughter
And, win or lose, you make of Life your lover.

Oh, what I'd give to hear you whisper, "lover..."
I, sullen grey-beard, poking at the embers
Of my youth-fancies, love of tears and laughter.
Too long I've borne the weary yoke of Fate.
I lust to make my name renowned in battle:
The world's too petty for my ardent dreaming!

I lie awake at night, awake yet dreaming
Of my immortal Ishtar, brazen lover,
Whose limbs were tempered in the heat of battle,
Whose gaze is starlight shed from sapphire embers.
Her word is wisdom, and her dance is Fate,
Her supple lips, her fond embraces laughter.

I beg you, do not scorn me with your laughter.
Do not deride an old man for his dreaming,
For I have yet to play my hand with Fate,
To woo for me a lady and a lover.
The wind of longing fans forgotten embers;
Desire whets its armaments for battle!

O sage and lover, hear Desire's laughter!
But look beyond the embers of your dreaming.
You'll see, all battle is the craft of Fate.

George Chadderdon © 1996