Copyright © 2008 by William Mistele. All rights reserved.
St. Patrick and the Undine Queen
St. Patrick met a bard one day
And hearing him play
St. Patrick exclaimed:
"The notes of your harp
Are the same as heaven's own art
Except for one thing--
They are a little too much elvin."
And so St. Patrick took the bard's harp away
And put it in the corner of his room.
But late that night when St. Patrick fell asleep and dreamed
The cold wind from the sea swept into his room
And when the wind touched the harp's strings
Little elfin men came out of the harp
And filled up his room.
Then St. Patrick woke with a start
And cried aloud: "I know not the bard's art
How to send you back home
To the fairy realms from where you belong.
What am I to do with you?"
And they replied:
"Only a saint can see us.
To all others we are invisible.
Let us go free so we can play:
In your world by the light of day
The rainbow sparkles in delight
And by night the sounding sea
And the breeze in the tree
Sing as sweet as any bard's enchanting melody."
And St. Patrick, with so many elves cluttering up his room,
Said in reply:
"I would be willing to give it a try
If you will serve the church for me.
You see, we on earth are not idle or carefree
Instead, we do work for God's glory.
You there, yes you, with the pale hands and long fingers
What useful thing for the church will you do?"
And the little elf said:
"I can take a heart broke in two
And mend it again
So that it shines like the moon."
And St. Patrick said:
"And you there with the pointed red cap
How about you?"
"I can take a little boy and show him
How to fly a kite in the sky
With stands from a vine and leaves from a tree
Carefully entwined, for this is a toy I have designed.
And not only that, I can teach a child to tie his shoe
Or to find his way home again when he is lost in the wood;
All of this I will do for you."
And St. Patrick said:
"And you there standing behind my table with your eyes so shy?
Do you also make toys that fly?"
"No, but I can teach your scribes
To draw bright colored letters of red, gold, and blue
With dragons and unicorns dancing through
So that learning to read and write
Will be a pleasure and a delight."
"And you with your head leaning against my wall
What is your where with all?"
"I will show monks and men
To ferment hops and honey
So that beer and mead
Teach the tongue to let go of dark secrets--
Then the sadness in men's souls will be banished."
And St. Patrick, who could tell right from wrong,
Was also a practical man.
He knew as well as me or you
That some things you just have to do.
So he let the elves go
And the people in that land
Were more happy and holy.
But a month later when the moon was dark
The harp did spark
Its strings flared with fierce flames emerald and green
And in the room stepped an undine queen
Elegant, radiant, and gorgeous.
Her eyes were full of starlight
And her hair was blazing red.
And when St. Patrick saw this sight
"You are so lovely the sky and the sea
Can not compete with your beauty.
Your face and grace outshine the sun and the moon.
But I can not let you go free.
You would haunt my people in their dreams.
They would return to worshiping trees in groves
And to pray among standing stones."
The undine queen replied:
"St. Patrick, you know as well as I do,
You can not keep me here with you.
My beauty is too great
Even you would lose your faith
And no longer desire to see God's face.
Let me go free and I promise you
I will take from the shores of your land
All the snakes of Ireland.
You see, every creature of sea, wind, and land
Obeys my command.
The snakes will follow me home
To the Blessed Realms where I will go.
For only a saint as great as you is free to choose
To remain on earth to do God's will
And not fall into my enchantments.
But in another age men will find a way
To sing God's praise and capture Beauty in one song
And this they will do both to honor God's glory
And for the sake of Love."
Now St. Patrick was not only a practical man,
He was also wise and so he said:
"Go in peace my child.
Do this work for the sake of the church
And I will search my heart
To see if your prophecies are true or not.
And when St. Patrick awoke the next day
All the snakes from Ireland had gone away
But his heart informed him he had made a mistake
To let the maiden of Beauty depart.
Though he tried to call her back
St. Patrick knew not the bard's art.
And so the land of Erin still awaits the day
When men will come forth no longer ashamed or afraid
To join in one song God's praise
With the Blessed Realms's Beauty and Love.