“The time’s long gone”, the old man said, “you’ve come too late, my son.
You’ll see them not in this sad age, their time is long since done.
A hundred years ago and more, they’ve been gone from this land.”
His voice was tough but his voice said, “Aye lad I understand”.
For I had sailed ‘cross half a world to seek the fabled isles
Where I had heard that dragon wings still soared across the skies.
You must have come from far indeed” he said with knowing eyes.
“The word has gone afar and wide that they have left our skies.
Sit down a while, young lad”, said he, “Let me tell you a tale
Of dragons streaming down the wind, sunlight bright on their scales,
A tale my grandfather told me when I was but a lad,
For I too know the dragon’s draw, I’d fain not leave you sad”.
And so I sat down at his feet, upon a tuft of grass,
And listened as he spun a tale of beasts of gold and brass,
With scales brighter than minted coin, wings glinting in the sun,
Higher by far than eagles soar Dragons were wont to run.
He told of glory greater far than any work of men,
Of wisdom born in aeons past and held in trust since then.
His eyes were bright with boyhood’s gleam as dusk crept down the sky,
I knew he heard an older voice, from when he, just like I,
Had sat and listened to the tale, hanging on every word
From one who might have seen it true, in a more wondrous world.
He told it as much for himself as he told it for me
For his heart knew the yearning too those golden wings to see.
At last his tale drew to a close and with one breath we sighed
Imagining a brighter age before the wonder died,
When unicorns roamed in the woods and giants still were seen
And mountain valleys echoed with the griffon’s fearless scream,
When wizards walked upon the earth with magic in their eyes
When elves lived side by side with men and Dragons ruled the skies.
“Well that’s the tale”, he said at last, “My grandpa told to me.
He said he saw with his own eyes their wings over the sea,
The day they flew into the west never again to fly
Above the hills of this green isle”, he heaved a heavy sigh
And said to me, “Well I must go the sun is nearly set.
My wife will have the dinner done, and home’s a long walk yet.
Perhaps you’ll come and eat with us? there’s plenty to go ’round.”
Though his offer sore tempted me, I stood and looked around
Then politely I did decline, “I too must go”, said I
And he gave me a knowing look, and briefly caught my eye.
I turned and walked back down the hill, towards the little town
That slumbered quietly ’round the bay where I had come aground.
Back to my skiff I made my way, and raised the sail once more
And with the sunset on my face, I turned my back to shore.
Ahead lay naught but open sea, I saw no hint of land
But still I set the tiller with a firm and steady hand
For somewhere to the west they soar and westward my course lies,
‘Till I have found the fabled land where Dragons rule the skies.
Now I have sailed ten thousand leagues and I’ll sail many more
And storm and wreck I’ll gladly brave as I have braved before
Though empty is the open sea and bitter winter’s storms,
Emptier still’s a dreamless soul and crueler is the scorn
Of those who do not dare to dream and cling to hearth-fire’s glow
I left them without looking back many a year ago.
So now the ocean is my road all through the starlit night
‘Till the sun rises at my back and in the dawn’s grey light
I see an island long and low a half day’s sail away
Hid under heavy looming clouds not yet lit by the day
Yet as dawn brightens in the sky I see a sudden gleam
As the sun’s first ray glances from a circling seabird’s wing.
But surely no bird could be seen as far afield as this
And no feather could ever gleam so bright in dawn’s first kiss.
Another shines and still a third, a spark of golden fire
From thirty leagues I see them climb soaring higher and higher
Surely nothing but dragons scale could so brazenly shine
As they thunder into the air in beauty near divine.
I see them clearly though my eyes are filled with tears of joy
For finally I’ve found the dream I first dreamed as a boy.
My skiff fair flies across the waves her bow spits spindrift foam
Though never have I seen this shore I feel I’m coming home
And overhead the sky is gold and glory fills my eyes
The crystal air is wonder pure
And Dragons Rule The Skies.