The Ballad of Coralinda

copyright © 1994 Edward L. Stauff

As I went out to fish one morning the dawn was silvering the ebb tide
It flashed on something in the surf there, twas a note within a bottle that I found.
It read: "Help me, I'm held against my will to be wed on the winter solstice.
Ere then, please save me, I beseech thee, from my father's castle tower by the sound."

Now, many tales of great adventure I'd sung for family, friends and lovers,
And ever wishing I could live one, now this bottle brought one home upon the tide.
So I swore to accept this as my quest and to rescue the hapless maiden
On the boat I'd built once with my father; for my mother we had named her "Sarah's Eyes".

In haste did I prepare my journey and bade farewell to those who'd miss me.
I cast my boat into the ocean though the storms of autumn prowled the northern sky.
Many weeks I sailed the Southern Sea having naught but the stars to guide me
Till at last I reached the Straits of Longing, just beyond which did my destination lie.

The fog lay heavy on the straits there, the currents flowed both fast and fickle
With care I sailed the tricky waters, guiding Sarah's Eyes through cliffs and rocky bars.
Then a song came from somewhere in the mist with a voice of the clearest silver
Entranced, with ears and heart I listened as it sang to me of waves and wind and stars.

instrumental interlude

Salt water brought me to my senses and I wept to see what floated near me:
The broken timbers of my sailboat, as a silver voice came laughing from above.
"You are mine!" cried the Siren from her rock, "One more song now before I drown you."
Again my world became her singing, and this time I couldn't help but sing along.

At last when I had finished singing our sad duet was now a solo.
The siren wailed "You have out-sung me! You are mine no longer, I must set you free."
Then she bore me all safely to the shore where my quest I could then continue
A horn made out of shell she gave me, saying "Sound this in your hour of greatest need."

At last I came unto the castle where as a minstrel I was welcomed
I met Lord Alric and his lady, she the only one to give me leave to stay.
But no daughter did any of them name till we sat down at evening table
Then under guard she came to join us; Coralinda was as lovely as her name.

Lord Alric kept her in a tower and only let her down for supper
Each afternoon I planned her rescue, at their table ev'ry night I sang and played..'
But she paid no heed to what I sang nor did any except her mother.
Her name, she told me, was Brianna, and she'd listen for as long as I would stay.

instrumental interlude

Then late one night as I lay sleeping a touch awoke me from my slumber
It was Brianna in her nightgown; in my ear she softly whispered words of love.
So I told her that I was on a quest and I could not accept her offers
She left me after much persuading, but her face replaced her daughter's in my dreams.

Next morn Lord Alric in a fury declared "My lady is unfaithful!
I swear I'll slay her and her lover." With these words he drew his sword and came at me.
But I took up the siren's horn of shell and I blew it in desperation
At once a madness took Lord Alric, through a window then he leaped into the sea.

And so I freed poor Coralinda and told her of my quest to save her
But still the maiden would not have me, and denied she ever sent a bottled note.
But Brianna came up and took my hand, saying "I am the one you rescued:
"Twas I who threw that note and bottle from this tower over fifteen years ago."