Being an account of a contest, wherein the princes of five contrees attempt to win the affections of the princess of the king of Sicily’s falcons. The tournament is held upon Monte Falcano that towers ovet the island of Marretimo & one-by-one they are whittled down, first thro’ their personality, then speed, then ability to hunt game. Finally, the princes of Portugal & Cyprus duel, wherein the Portuguese falcon is triumphant, wins the princess & plants his national flower on the island for posterity.
There is an island you should know
Of sun & sea & showers
Call’d marvelous Marettimo
Where Homer mused so long ago
& all god’s creatures grew to know
The Language of the Flowers
Upon this island lives a king,
Lord of Sicily’s Falcons,
The Guelder Roses grow each spring
About his Ash Tree, in a ring,
But still the Eagles fear his wing
From Scotland to the Balkans.
More beautiful than true Orchis
Grew his beloved daughter;
When she had pluck’d
He sent forth mountain messengers
To the royal Falcon princes
Inviting them to court her.
A handsome prince flew to propose
Then came on others, one with Rose,
One clutch’d Lavender in his claws,
One brought Bear’s Breech in spiky pose,
The last: Egyptian Lotus!
Each kiss’d the princess with soft peck
& shower’d admiration;
One gave her Mint, one gave Angrec,
One Cherry Blossom, one Garlic,
But to the one with Hollyshock
She toss’d a Striped Carnation.
The king announced a tournament
Amid the mountain bowers;
The goats broke up their government
Assinos braved the steep ascent
While local seagulls squawk’d consent
& scatter’d Zephyr Flowers.
The crowds had gather’d on a slope,
Oer the sea that swam to space,
The Princes hover’d at the rope
The King took out a telescope
Salvaged from some ship shorn of hope
Then settled to watch the race
Four Falcons flew down lightning fast
From clouds to the low sea-mist,
Touching the lone fuggazi mast
Then Imperial Lily pass’d,
The princess cheer’d, gave to the last
The colourful Amethyst.
Three Princes hunted thro the day,
Down they swoop’d on ev’ry kill,
Each filling up a silver tray,
Then when the sun shed last red ray
The princess on the least did spray
The blossom of Sweet Basil.
The King announced twas time to dine,
The day’s hunt put in a pile,
Wash’d down with wash’d up Tuscan wine,
The finalists both found a sign,
One pluck’d the Purple Columbine
& his rival, Cammomile.
Two Falcons face the final fray
From Portugal & Cyprus;
The evening gloom consumes the day
Up to the moon assinos bray,
The Princess keeps the cold at bay
Wrapp’d with warm Indian Cress.
Thro’ Belladonna-scented sky
Princes fought with wing & peck,
Their talons lock, they fall from high,
One hits the water with shock’d cry,
Returns, receiving, with a sigh,
The Bay Wreath around his neck.
The Prince of Portugal had won
His princess’s Carnation,
As is the law of high falcon
The King embraced his future son
Whose flower planted with talon
To join the vegetation.
So if you ever take the time
To view Monte Falcano,
& venture on its verdant climb,
‘Tween sea & Sicily sublime,
More fragrant than a poet’s rhyme
Does the lush Lavender grow.