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Glyka and the Magic Lute

A wandering minstrel found one day he could not play his lute.
He strummed and twanged and plucked the strings, but ever were they mute.
A maiden came and asked if he might sing a pretty song.
“Sweet maid,” said he, “I’m sad to say my voice is not too strong.”
“Oh come,” she said, “strike up a tune, for I know that you can.
I saw you singing yesternight in front of every man.”
So he, abashed, took up his lute and then began to sing,
And though his voice was loud and clear, the lute said not a thing.
“O sorry man,” the girl exclaimed, “you must have broke your lute!”
“Oh no,” said he, “that cannot be, its strings are resolute.”
The wondering minstrel tried again, he tried to play a round,
But still the stubborn instrument refused to make a sound.
“Well, I declare!” the maiden said, “Here, let me have a try.”
Her nimble fingers plucked the strings and then they gave a cry.
“Dear minstrel friend, it seems to me you’re needing some technique.
Now watch me closely, and I’ll show you how to make it speak.”
The minstrel watched indignantly while she the lute did play:
She played on it three galliards, one pavane and tuneful lay.
“Enough! Enough!” the minstrel said, “I know technique full well.
It’s clear to see that this must be the workings of a spell.”
“A spell!” she shrieked, and dropped the lute, a-clatt’ring to the floor.
“A spell!” he cried out fervently, and scared her even more.
“Sweet maiden, I implore you, go and find this evil man!
Go and find the wicked wizard who has caught me in his plan!”
The girl then was overwhelmed and fell apart in tears.
“O minstrel-man, it cannot be! Unfounded are your fears!”
She cried some more and then explained that all the men she knew
Would never think of such a thing, they were so good and true.
The minstrel then sat down and thought, and then he thought again.
He then picked up his ornery lute and played once more in vain.
At last the maiden spoke again; she said there was a man
Who was a master of stringed things, as was th’ entire clan.
“Let’s go,” the minstrel said, and rose up from his wooden chair.
He bade the maiden go before and lead the pathway there.
A mile or two the lutists walked, and soon they were arrived
Unto the shop of Luther, that great man who had contrived
All kinds of stringéd instruments, which hung upon his wall,
Along with many plectra, which he used to pluck withal.
“Good morning, Glyka,” said the man, “’tis good to see you here.
But who is this that comes behind? Does he live somewhere near?”
“I am a wandering minstrel, and my name is known to few.
I wished to come here so that I this lute to you might shew.”
The wandering minstrel offered it, and Luther held it up,
And then he undid all the strings, and put them in a cup.
Once this was done, he peered inside the intricate rosette,
And then he sat down with a start, and seemed to be upset.
“It cannot be! It cannot be!” he mumbled to himself.
The others stood in wonder as he set it on a shelf.
And then he turned and questioned him about the lute he brought.
“Now tell me, sir, why did you bring this lute so finely wrought?”
“Well now, you see,” the minstrel said, “of late it has not played.
At least for me, but then today it sang for this fair maid.
For many years I’ve used this lute, and never has it failed,
But now it seems some evil witch has made it to be ailed.”
“O lucky man! O fortune’s friend!” the luthier then cried.
“Please tell me, sir, what were your thoughts the evening that it died?”
“My thoughts, you say? Well, let me think. It seems I was quite wroth.
That night I tried to tune the thing, but it was very loth.
I wanted then to break its neck, but wisely I refrained;
But then perhaps I spoke a curse, that it might be disdained.”
“And thus it is,” old Luther said, “that this lute has been ill.
You see, it is a magic lute, and knows its master’s will.
It heard you utter that rash curse against its shapely frame,
And so it has obeyéd you as fits its mystic name.”
“Pray tell me, then,” the minstrel said, “what was my lute ere called?”
“The ancient folks, who lived back then, with magic were enthralled,
And so they named it lyra magica in their old tongue,
And thus when Glyka touched the lute, it knew her heart and sung.”
“So why is it so great a lute?” the wondering minstrel asked,
“For it has done no good for me, but only has harassed.”
“’Tis not in sound and silence that its awesome power lies,
But this lute has the power to sing songs and harmonize.
You see, my friend, no longer just a lute do you now own,
But also clarinets and shawms, and hammered xylophones.
The only thing you have to do is think within your brain
And picture any instrument you wish to play your strain.”
The wandering minstrel was so overjoyed, he grabbed the lute,
And hastily restringing it, he played it like a flute.
And striking up a lively tune he sang quite lustily,
That both the maiden and the man were laughing it to see.
“I do declare,” the minstrel said, “this thing is out of tune.
Friend Luther, would you mind to tune my lute this afternoon?”
“Nay, not at all,” the luthier replied, and took the lute.
As Luther tuned, the minstrel thought of taking his next route.
He thought of all the miles he’d walk, until he reached a town,
And how it would be years before he’d meet one of renown.
“O Glyka,” said the minstrel, “for I reckon that’s your name,
Do you have a lute at home as does each noble dame?”
“I’m sad to say,” the girl replied, “I haven’t one as yet.
Perhaps someday I’ll save my funds and seek one for to get.”
“It seems to me,” the minstrel said, “that you should have one now,
For you are deft at plucking strings; I see that you know how.
I’ve half a mind to give you mine, this magic lute of old,
If Luther here could sell me one, though I don’t have much gold.”
“Dear minstrel, I would fain accept your wondrous gift anon,
But how could I deprive you it, when you’ll be gone at dawn?”
“Sweet maiden, if I took this lute and sang from town to town,
They might just think I was bewitched, or was some type of clown.”
And so the minstrel gave his lute unto the fair young maiden,
And from that day the lute she played, and with great joy was laden.

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