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Mortal Clay

Lyrics and melody © 2003 by Catherine Faber

The mandolin was flirting and the bodhran stamped and danced
The women's skirts were swirling and the menfolk smiled and glanced
Laughter in the shadows kissed the magic in the air,
When I glanced around the circle and my husband wasn't there.

When I turned to seek him in the dark, among the sheaves
The earth gave way beneath me in a storm of flying leaves
I fell and heard the music change, unearthly pure and chill,
And knew myself an idiot who'd blundered Underhill.

I scrambled to my stinging knees, trembling with fright
And scarcely dared look up to see a Lady crowned in light.
The music shattered in my ears; I found I couldn't rise,
For in the crowd about her throne I met my husband's eyes.

I heard the smile in her voice, malice chiming fair,
"So mortal, have you come to play the dancing of the air?"
She offered me a challenge any bard well understands.
A flute of mist and magic in the moonlight of her hands.

My hands were coarse and dirty, next to hers so fine and fair;
I hid them in my pockets, and I found an ally there.
Hope rose up and whispered I might fashion if I tried
The key to win my husband from the blindness of her pride.

"Surely, noble lady, though your magic flute may sing
True skill can pull enchantment from the coarsest mortal thing.
Who owns the finest instrument can't show our music's worth,
But who can play that instrument that's closest to the earth."

I didn't quite take fire from the smolder of her glare
Too much earth about me and too little fire and air;
She flung the moonlit flute away; how terrible she stood
Brandishing a whistle made of simple mortal wood.

She raised it to her blood red lip and sighed its voice awake
Her every breath enchantment, and her skill without mistake
My blood and passion quickened as her melody advanced.
Till if I could have risen I am sure I would have danced.

I'm not the best musician in the mortal lands around
Even in my village better players can be found.
But reaching in my pocket I drew trembling breath to play
Rough as any stone, an ocarina made of clay.

Her hold undone I rose and wiped my hands upon my skirt.
For she had played on mortal wood, but I had played the dirt.
"Go free and take your man" she said, "but bear my words in mind.
You've tricked me once, a second time's not given to your kind."


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It was created by Cat Faber (cat(at)echoschildren.org). It is maintained by Arlene "Callie" Hills (callie(at)echoschildren.org).