The Jester

THEY rode together down the claustral aisles
Of the dim woodland. From the cool retreats
And leafy privacies the mated birds
Ruffled their throats in song. High overhead
The sun coursed a diaphanous sky, and sent
Through swaying boughs his javelins of gold.
A slender stream rang all its crystal bells
’Twixt banks of moss and fern beside the way
Whither they passed unheeding. The sleek steeds
Set noiseless hoofs on mast and russet leaves,
The last year’s fallen glory. Each was young,
And she was very fair. His arm was zoned
About her; the twin roses in her cheeks
Flamed as she drooped against him, her bright hair
Flowed o’er his shoulder, and her dancing plumes
Swept his bronzed cheek.
Then were they ware of one
Who, bowed and tattered, in the shadow stood
Leaning upon a staff. His sightless eyes
Were bent upon the twain, a flickering hand
Was out-thrust towards them, while across his breast,
Stained with unseasonable rains and dews,
The legend ran, “ Sweet folk, alms for the blind.”
With little sounds of pity they drew rein;
Upon the pleading palm a coin was laid,
And conscience-free they pricked along their path ;
Till suddenly, from behind, a peal of mirth
Caught them as with a buffet, and they turned.
Then from his face the beggar plucked a mask,
His ragged garments from his body slipped,
And they beheld the dazzling wings of Love.
James B. Kenyon.