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The Homecoming

Farewell to Fortune

By John CoxPublished 10 days ago Updated 10 days ago 4 min read
Top Story - July 2024
I saw the truth in the sad eyes of the old warrior as he returned my gaze.

At the Midsommar’s dawning, the sun sparkled atop the sea’s silvery surface like watery stars,

The sky echoing with the raucous cries of gulls chasing fishing boats tacking out into the cove.

Fortuna stood motionless on the gray shores, staring unmoving at the ocean deep,

Ignorant of the fishermen as they cast their nets and the gulls soaring greedily high above.

.

Neither shifting nor stooping to rest, he ignored the waves rolling and crashing

Around him as if he was no more than a wooden post driven into the soil.

Slowly, slowly the halberd slipped from his fingers to splash unnoticed in the rising surf.

.

Pulling off his tunic and pants, he walked naked into the cresting waves,

Their buffeting sometimes pushing him back a few steps before pressing again forward.

Farther and farther out he walked till only his head appeared above the rolling seas.

Disappearing briefly beneath the tall waves, bobbed up his head and began to swim he with rhythmic strokes.

.

But when little more than a speck he on the far horizon, my vision blurred and saw him I no more.

No one the name his father gave him knew, nor the woman who once nourished him as a babe upon her breast.

Claimed him not, any tribe nor nation, wandered he from town to town calling no place home.

.

His halberd, bright and sharp, cleaved many a Saxon helm on Briton’s fields of bloody strife.

But the storyteller’s lip’s trembling, he grew silent, staring forlornly into his drink.

Feared I without gentle coaxing he might again never speak.

Never met I any soldier who did not claim close bonds with the most fortunate one.

.

Surely Fortuna had more bonny friends than any man in all the isles of Briton.

But in the eyes of the old man, saw I the truth in his sad gaze.

This was more than mere friendly bond. This man had loved and followed him to the end.

.

He had watched him walk into the sea and tarried long enough to know return he never would.

How did you meet? finally asked I.

We caught him as a mute boy stealing grain from our farm and Childless

My woman and I welcomed and raised him our own.

.

But when he came of manhood, disappeared he as mysteriously as once

He appeared and broke our poor loving hearts. Never knew we how or why.

Breathing with strong emotion, rubbed he with the back of his hand his poor eyes.

.

Many claim to have fought at Ayelsford, said he, but I was there and saw it truly.

In retreat surrendered we the field to the Saxon, King Vortimer,

Pierced cruelly by arrows sharpe and greatly weakened, knelt among the fallen, both friend and foe.

But our good King reviving, his voice boomed ‘FORTOONA!’ above the lusty cries of the foe.

.

My lost son charged with deadly halberd raised, in my fury and terror, I yelled, ‘Rally good fellows! Rally to the king!’

‘FORTOONA’ shouted we as one and charged bravely into the hopeless fray.

Saxon arrows flying thickly, many in our host pierced by their cruel darts. But Fortuna was alone unbloodied and uncut.

.

When the Saxon King Horsa fell under the stout blows of the king, Vortimer

Cried out ‘FORTOONA’ once more, and the Saxon beaten did retreat.

We bore the good king injured mortal from the field to his barrow long and narrow

To rest him among his ancestor's bones upon sacred Midsommar morn.

.

Fortuna would not leave him, weeping goodly tears at his king’s mortal plight,

The dawning piercing the hammer-stone and filling the barrow with healing light.

The king opened his eyes and gazed in surprise at our grief stricken faces before calling weakly for water.

.

The priestess shooed all but Fortuna away, as we wondered greatly at the good king’s renewed health.

Later upon Midsommar’s eve, a sign appeared in the vast firmament of the starry host,

A long tailed star sailed slowly across the twilight blue.

The fortunate one stared at the long tailed star till the priestess left the barrow.

.

She began to chant a prayer to the bright visitation. But when I heard her whisper Deus Fortuna,

I realized she wasn’t praying to the long tailed star at all, but to our divinely blessed son.

The light in the storyteller’s eyes faded with memories dark returning,

.

Sweeping away the remembered glory at Aylesford and king’s fortunate healing.

My heart going out to his grief, I gripped his shoulder tightly, but slow was he to revive and once again speak freely.

But when Fortuna once more abandoned, said he, the Saxon drove us from our land and enslaved our women and young.

Many dying in the hard years following, some of starvation and others under cruel Saxon beatings.

.

But however much I longed to hear more, I dared not in his vast grief cheer him.

And sat we together silent, my thoughts bent on Fortuna’s watery fate.

I long knew, whispered he, our son was more than just a man. I knew him when into the rolling seas he strode.

Returned he at last to his godly father Llyr, diving down into its briny deeps for his divine reward.

inspirationalOde

About the Creator

John Cox

Family man, grandfather, retired soldier and story teller with an edge.

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    Creative use of language & vocab

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Comments (24)

  • Dawnxisoul393artabout 13 hours ago

    Thank you for sharing this captivating piece. It draws us into a world where nature and self-discovery intertwine, thank you very much for sharing, love your works, subscribed.

  • This is truly FANTASTIC, John. Wow! What vivid storytelling, and I love how it is narrated in olde English, setting the voice and tone perfectly. Freaking BRILLIANT! You are truly a master storyteller! I especially love how you present this in the style of an epic poem, reminiscent of Homer's Odyssey or the Epic of Gilgamesh. Awesome!

  • Shirley Belk4 days ago

    This was so deeply and beautifully sad. One of your best!!!

  • Tina D'Angelo4 days ago

    This was epic. Your words made scenes come alive, even though I had to rearrange my brain to understand the sequence. Was this from a legend or did you invent it?

  • Gerard DiLeo4 days ago

    I don't know what happened to my previous comment here about how this should have been a TS--you know, the one where you say you never win TS for a poem. But I'm back to say I told you so. (Never say never.)

  • JBaz5 days ago

    so impressive, I wish I had a tankard of ale in my hand as I was reading this. John you are one talented man. 'The light in the storyteller’s eyes faded with memories dark returning'

  • Back to say congrats on T.S.! Well deserved!

  • Sam Avery5 days ago

    Excellent work amazing interesting good.

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • D.K. Shepard5 days ago

    Back to say congrats on Top story! Well deserved, John!

  • Paul Stewart5 days ago

    Yay, so glad this got Top Story, congrats, John, sir!

  • Cathy holmes5 days ago

    Congrats on the TS.

  • Lamar Wiggins8 days ago

    Your versatility really shines through here, John. I was captivated and intrigued. When I first encountered the strange dialect, I thought it was a typo, until I realized it be just the tongue of the times, lol.

  • This is beautiful, John. I love the way you invoked ancient English but not to the point we couldn't understand it. Very clever and effective for setting us back centuries with a contemporary understanding of the tale. Boy, are you good!!!

  • Your descriptions were so vivid and I could picture it so clearly in my mind. Several lines I had to read more than once because of the sentence structure but I feel it was a nice touch. I loved this!

  • Andrea Corwin 9 days ago

    Wow, can one imagine sitting next to another in a tavern and listening to this grand tale? Lots of alliteration at the beginning holding the reader and pulling us forward into the tale. Well woven!! ❣️

  • Mark Gagnon9 days ago

    Your ability to tell this story in the dialect of old is more than impressive. Well done, John!

  • Cathy holmes9 days ago

    This really moved me. I can see, vividly, several places I've been recently where I could imagine the exact spot he wandered into the sea. Great storytelling!

  • L.C. Schäfer9 days ago

    Loved this, transported me right back. Felt the hearth smoke in my throat and everything.

  • D.K. Shepard9 days ago

    From the bold imagery to the storyteller’s entrancing speech, this is masterfully done! It sucked me into another time and place. Amazing work, John! And an excellent companion piece to your earlier story!

  • Rachel Deeming9 days ago

    Timelessness to this that conjures all of that pagan magic from round the fireside told by the bards of old. Your original artwork too?

  • Paul Stewart9 days ago

    I'd echo both Heather and Hannah's comments - this was just so characterful and again, like you were channelling an old master. Compelling, intriuging and swept me away from the start to the finish.

  • Hannah Moore10 days ago

    The weird grammar here makes this a bit more effortful to read,, like so many older texts. I love how hazed the boundary between mortal and god is in this world.

  • Heather Zieffle 10 days ago

    This made me feel as if I was sitting around a fire in a tavern of old, listening to a bard sing a tale. Very fun! Great job, John!

John CoxWritten by John Cox

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