Listen to poem:
The three enigmas of Turandot
The well of souls run deep in fabled lands of old.
Of China's ancient dynasty and the lost Great Tartary,
a ballad of love and loss that must be told.
The Emperor's daughter, Turandot, a Princess of ice and fire,
tho' haunted by an ancestral maiden, the Princess' Lo-u-Ling.
Captured, raped, and killed by invading army's Prince, a millennia ago,
both souls, now, forever tied in anger.
Of virtuous life taken, a nightmare never forgot,
and so never forgive men the heinous crime, No!
a pact tween ancestress ghost and Turandot.
The mandarin's edict read out loud to the gathered Palace throng,
The three riddles of Turandot, royal bloodline suitor sought..
her hand in matrimony must answer.
Head from royal shoulders fall, the price should one guess wrong.
Crowd in chorus'd blood lust cried for the Executioner's ax.
King of Tartar's failing legs gave way as the royal palace guard
pushed back the teaming mass.
The Prince, hearing Liù's call for help for her blind master,
rushed to the strange, pitiful pair pressed into the street.
From shadows amidst the melee of the restless throngs, now recognized a familiar face,
It was Timor his own father!
Vanquished King of Tartary, lost from Mother Volga's banks,
and the ragged Rhipaean Mountains beyond.
Of young and foolish love, the fair Prince of Persia risked all..
his heart and mind through beauty's blinded eye..
alas, he answered wrong.
Though Peking's voice begged mercy upon seeing visage of grace,
beguiled Persian Prince stood condemned.
To die at the rise of next night's Moon.
Heart of cold granite, the Princess refused, and with gesture from cold pale hand and glint of dying moon, in five chords, he was gone.
Upon seeing the Princess' form and face in light.,
the unknown Prince heart ached for her..in rapt love.
Three times he called her name..Turandot!
Destiny fulfilled with three hammers of a gong.
The Princess accepted the nameless suitor'd plea.
Three palace ministers longed for far away hearths of home
Liù, and Timur tried to dissuade, the Emperor himself tried too,
but the young Prince would not relent.
Homesick Ministers await the unknown Prince's fate,
a marriage to gayly plan or funeral 'twill either be,
for a Tartary Prince with a nameless head.
The Emperor on ivory thrown once more implores the Prince to relent
again came the suitor's reply, "Son of Heaven! I ask
to undergo the trial!"
From her place of judgement she stands above the Prince and says aloud..
"Still in the time all can recall,
there was alarm, terror, the rumble of arms!
The Kingdom defeated! defeated!
And Lo-u-ling, my ancestress,
dragged off by a man,
like you, like you, a stranger,
there in the horrid night,
where her sweet voice was stilled!"
From the hushed citizens of Peking' growing voice,
( She’s slept for centuries
in her huge tomb! )
"Stranger! Do not tempt Fortune!
The enigmas are three, Death is one".
The unknown Prince hearing her plea replied unfazed,
"No, no... the enigmas are three, Life is one!"
The citizens of Peking in fervor'd spirit called out,
"Offer the supreme test
to the foreign Prince,
O Turandot! Turandot!"
In the gloom of night an iridescent phantom flies, What is born each night and dies each dawn? spoke the unwilling Bride,
'Hope', came the Prince' answer, and hope the Prince now attained.
What flickers red and warm like a flame, but is not fire? she plied,
'Blood', came his adept reply, second riddle now ordained.
What is like ice, but burns like fire? she cried out,
Three enigmas, never meant to be divined,
matched three answers written in the minister's scrolls.
The cruel Princess calls for her father and Emperor to see his false heart..,
but he stands true to the law and his word.
Relieved to have passed the test, only to bear her repulse,
still left beguiled, he quickly devised a way for her to go free.
“If before morning you can discover my true and rightful name, righteously I shall forfeit my life.”
From the Gardens of the Imperial Palace announced the Herald:
"Upon pain of death, or dawn, none shall sleep", lest the Prince's name revealed.
Nessun Dorma..,sing's the nameless Prince,
and so too the Princess in her cold room.
Look at the stars and tremble with love..
his name to remain hidden, 'til spoken in her mouth.
With apologies to Giacomo Puccini
Copyright © Quoth TheRaven | Year Posted 2019