The Rune

By George Sterling

From "Truth"

Nain the prince, one day in youth,
    Playing on the northern dune,
Found an Arctic dragon-tooth,
    Whiter than the crescent moon.

Keen and cold and bright it lay,
    Where a long-forgotten keel
Crumbled gauntly, day by day,
    And the gull and curlew wheel.

Nain, enraptured with the thing.
    Quick and eager, like a bird,
Brought it to the drunken king-
    Hoping for a thankful word.

Called the king for Amelup,
    Graver of the gem and gold;
Bade him make of it a cup,
    Ere the budding month grew old.

Ere the given time ran out,
    Amelup in ruby flame
Girt the ivory about
With a long-unuttered name.

Amelup, before the king
    Learned what weird lay gleaming there,
Found by night a faery ring;
    Faded in that magic air.

Now the king will never have
    Knowledge of the glowing rune,
Tho the witch in crypt and cave
    Beg her daemon to commune.
    
Never may the king divine,
    Tho a youth and maid he kill,—
Tho he drink a holy wine
    To the elf within the hill.

Amelup may laugh right well,
    If he hear that angry lord
Beg the magic men to tell
    What no magic may accord.

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