Tristan too went home, head down, and walking slow.
His fingers fumbled as he opened his own door,
And scarcely could he turn the key.
His head felt heavy, and he fell
Cold in a faint on the flagstones of the floor
As if he suffered from some strange disease.
His brother, who knew of all he had been through,
Put his arm around his shoulder,
And helped him to his bed
And brought him blankets warm and pillows soft
And did his best to make him feel at ease.
The next day Roderick came home.
How happy was young Dorigen then
As she welcomed him and took him in her arms.
She held him tight and murmured to herself
That she would never let him leave again.
In her mind her promise lightly given
Had left no trace at all,
Like the roses in the garden
That drop in the cold of autumn
When the leaves begin to fall.
This knight had never given a thought
That any man might have come to Dorigen
And murmured words of love.
It had never crossed his mind.
And so in joy and bliss I let them dwell,
And of sick Tristan I will tell.
Many weeks and many months passed by,
And Tristan never left his bed
But sickened despite the constant care
The whole day from his brother there.
His name was Anselm.
Tristan took help from him alone,
For he would tell no other of his love.
He spoke no word of his dire plight,
But only to his brother, and in him
He confided all by day and night.
Anselm wept to see poor Tristan there so ill
And then thought back to many years before,
When he studied in Orleans. For there he’d met
A wizard who had made the students in that town
Dumbfounded by his knowledge and his skill.
His tricks and magic had amazed them all.
‘If I can find this man’ he thought,
‘Then he might help us in some way.’
He then went straight to his brother’s room.
He gently woke him from a fitful sleep
And told him of his plans and hopes.
As the first sun rose the very next day
And lit the early farmhands to their work,
Through the cold and silent streets
To Orleans straight they took their way.
Through the sparkling morning mist,
They went to find this man of magic there,
This strange illusionist.
They took their horses and rode fast
With the rising sun right in their eyes,
Tristan always far ahead and urging on his brother,
Angrily shouting for him to hurry more.
Poor Anselm had as much as he could do
To stay upon his steed.
More used he was to a stool and desk
Than to a saddle and the stirrups hard
From which his feet would always jump
And leave him grabbing for the mane.
He could not rise to the gentle trot,
And ride in rhythm with his horse
But bounced along going up and down again.
Next day for certain he’d be saddle sore.
He was not good at cantering at all,
And to gallop was far beyond his skill.
And I am sure that if he’d tried
He’d have finished down on his backside,
And that’s the truth, and I can say no more.
We all have different strengths
And these at times we show with pride,
Yet all of us have some weak point
Which as best we can we try to hide.
But in the end they neared Orleans,
And Anselm gave a prayer of thanks
When he saw the great west front
Of the cathedral there and the slim spire behind
With its weather cock that never crowed at all
But turned all day to left and right
To spot those coming up along the road,
Long time before they reached the city wall.
As they rode up to the entrance gate,
A man approached and said,
‘I know why you have come.’
And then he told them all they had in mind.
Then they were both amazed and knew
He was the wizard they had come to find.
Anselm asked about his friends from earlier years
But the wizard said that all of them had died,
And at this news poor Anselm cried
And freely flowed his tears.