Without a Chance

There’s an old, old story
that I once read
tells the tale of a peasant
and the deeds that he did

First at the beginning
though, I must commence
lest you understand not
where I’m going hence.

This story begins
with a king grown old
who had not an heir
to bequeath his gold

Save only a daughter
a damsel so fair
that the nobles for miles
would stop and stare

But the king in his wisdom
understood that their stares
though simple and subtle
indicated that their

Love for his daughter
was for the beauty she bare
and not for her person
her health and welfare.

But alas though this king
of this truth understood
yet still he retained
no thought of what should

Be done to bequeath
his fortune of gold
or how to find one worthy
of his riches untold?

And so he devised
a plan so bold
that only the bravest
would care to be told.

He locked up his daughter
in a tower so high
with ice like a mountain
sloping on all sides.

Sealed up with his daughter
were three apples of gold
the value of one which
could not be told.

Then the instructions
to all men were told
the rich and the poor
the young and the old

“Whomever among you
my daughter can free
by climbing this ice
while riding his steed

And bring to my palace
the apples she bares
He’ll then be my son
the prince and my heir.”

Thus with fortunes awaiting
only to be claimed
there came such a crowd
that could countless be named

Of kings, and of nobles,
princes riding steeds
the finest of which
poor men only dream.

They all came together
to lay claim to the prize
to prove they were worthy
of the benevolent eye.

But alas to the king’s
very grave dismay
not a man could be found
to succeed that day.

That day turned too many-
and then many weeks
no one had come close
to reaching the peak.

As weeks turned to months
and months turned to years
the nobles forgot
of the beauty so clear

That shone from a damsel,
who sat locked away
in a tower of ice,
whom no one could claim.

But the princess still stayed
all alone in her tower
with three apples of gold
three tokens of power.

Now to that peasant
where my rhyme had begun
you knew I would get there
before we were done-

He worked in the fields
bringing hay and straw
to feed all the horses
both great ones and small.

He knew of this legend
of this damsel so fair-
but it really was not
of that which he cared.

For this peasant saw
a woman indeed
a prisoner who needed
at last to be freed!

But to be released
one man had to climb
not only once-
but at least three times!

And though this he wished for
he knew he could not
for he had no steed
and knew none could be bought

That would ever be able
to that height attain
for horses were simply
not built to maintain

The level of strength
he’d assuredly need
if he were to ever
gain the damsel’s release.

But then something happened
while he worked one night
when a lightning bolt shattered
leaving quite a sight.

A horse dressed in bronze
the sound of whose neigh
was the sound of a power
that was not human made.

On this sight he pondered
for whom could this be?
And who was it who granted
such a stout noble steed?

And truth is the answer
to that question’s unknown
and he marked it down
to the fairies alone.

So up on his back
this peasant did ride
wearing the bronze armor
that had come alongside.

He raced between crowds
to the great icy slopes
and began to climb them
as the king had long hoped.

His steed dug his hooves
using all his strength
carving a passage
a third of the way.

But he could continue
up no more that way
and turning around
he left off for the day.

But before his returning
brought him to the ground
the damsel above him
tossed an apple on down.

And holding his prize
which he’d won that day
he wielded his steed
and galloped away.

*** *** *** *** ***

My conclusion is brief
yes returning next day
the peasant climbed higher
earning two of three

Then once more enduring
he claimed apple three
by reaching the top
and at last she was free.

The king knew his promise
and made him his heir
for no other was worthy
who conquered his dare.

But now hear my question
of you I will ask
what if the damsel
was not in distress?

Would the peasant still climb
for three apples to gain?
Surely one was enough
for it was priceless in trade.

But alas even that
is not the question I fear.
For three golden apples
he could never have neared

Save for some fairy mother
who granted a steed
a horse like no other
to accomplish the deed.

Why then the bother
of trying to earn
what only can come
if you’re granted a turn?

A turn that if gained
like the peasant you’ll be
ready and able
to accomplish the deed-

For what of those others
those from far and wide
were none of them worthy
to be granted a try?

Or is fate simply laughing
at all those who yearn
to be something more-
With no chance if no turn.

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