The Two Cities
Donald P. GoodmanVersion 7.0,
Hear! A herald of him who hails every man who seeks wisdom, who wants to be wise, and to know what is true in the knot of nonsense that feigns to be real and fools the rulers who claim they are wise in the ways of the world; hear! for I hold in my hand for your hearing a tale of a trip between two mighty towns, two cities so near one another, yet still held apart by a valley surpassing all view, a great span widely stretching, a space so extending that no man can pass it, though mighty and powerful, a parting which leaves them aloof and apart for all time. I will try to tell the great tale of towering turrets, so tall that they touch the blackness above; and of buttresses strong holding walls against war and their warriors well, and the road that would span the stretching space that no man can e'er cross, and the clash of the clans which the crossing produced; and the death and decay that it birthed. So me hear! for the herald must hie to the song that he sings from the soul and the heart.
To the west is the waste through which men ever walk, and it festers with filth like the foulest muck, like a corpse decomposing, decaying, corrupting, the mother of blowfiles, the brother of beetles, the wooer of worms and the caller of crows, the father of filth and of foulness and death. Yet the trash built a tower, a turret so towering it touches the sky, though it totters and sways like a stalk of tall grass in the green and the sod, but unstable, unsteady; a staggering drunk, ever stumbling, misstepping; near falling from feet which are planted in sand but e'er losing their place. Yet the pride of this pit has been placed in this pole which can scarcely stay upright, which barely can stand. But it stands at the moment; it stays for a minute; and knowing no tomorrow, a moment's their need. And their king's in the tower and reigns from the turret, and wearing his crown which is fine beyond ken, overlayered with gold, and full-laden with gifts, covered with jewels and coated with gems, and shining with light that was shed from lamps which belong not to him; and he looks from his home and he hates what is stable; he hopes for its fall, with a hatred that burns, with a heat that boils every drop of his life-blood, each deed of his life, and consumes his own soul like a slithering snake which will swallow the riches along with the rat.
Toward the sun is the city of streaming splendor, sending out beams like a beautiful star, streets ever lit with the life of the light that makes oaks out of acorns and fruits from the earth, that gives warmth to the wellsprings of wealth in the world and sight to the eyes of the citizens dwelling within its walls so imposing, so proud and so powerful, mighty and strong, massive and stable, shaken by nothing and shining in the night. The city is as bright as the sun in the sky and the dark has been banished and death has been beaten by the king in his tower, so kind and so caring, so mighty and powerful, meek and merciful, crowned not with gold or with glimmering gems but with wood and with thorns in his watch o'er the world. And the tower he made is so tall and so mighty no wave and no wind can e'er make it waver, a rock for eternity, rising so tall. And a torch ever burning atop of the tower, the heart of the king with the heat of a coal, looking out at the city and loving what he sees, and gazing across to the country whose king so hates him; and loving the hellish hole, he will shed his own lifeblood to share his own love, and thus cover the poor as he coated the powerful, bringing riches to them, along with the rest.
The king, passing kind, and accomplishing much, still was sad at the sorrow of that city of slime, of the fortress of filth that e'er falters and wavers and threatens to fall at each fear that it tholes; though his city was happy, and sated, euphoric, the eyes of the king were still angled elsewhere, and forever regretting the grit and the grime far across the great chasm; so kind was the king that he wept bitter tears in his wish that he wash all the filth from that people that festers and frets in that garbage city of gaping sores and killing sickness; and so, he crossed; he left his high tower, the lap of luxury, the joy of the city that he justly enjoyed, and went to the west, to the wastes of the world, to endure with them dirt, and foul deeds, and foul death.
When the king had come across the chasm to the city of slime and of stink and of plague, he promised the people no pleasure, but pain, and he told them the secrets that served his own city, the things they must thole to pursue the same peace. But the lord of the lower, who loved all the lunacy, pleased by the pestilence, sated by stink, mired in the muck like a pig; and so pleased with the tottering tower and terrors and tears of his city, he fought against saving his friends and he sought to condemn them to dwelling in slime. So he sharpened his sword, and his shield and his spear he prepared for a battle; he proffered the ban on the words of the king 'gainst which words he made war. But the kind had a shield which would cringe not from sharpness, and a spear which was keen beyond ken, and a sword which no shield could rebuff, and no battle could bend, so he feared not the weapons his foe could then wield. So he stood, passing brave, in the center of the city, and he spoke to the citizens, parleying with people, and heedless of their head, whose hatred so deep was still plotting and scheming to stop the king's plan. So the lord of the lower, who feared the king's fierceness, and despite his strength was struck with a shaking at opposing the king when he came thus openly; knowing slight and guile were his greatest swords, he then planned that he'd stab, with the piercing and pain, the good king in the back, since his bravery'd bailed, but his hatred still burned with the heat of all hells.
As the king of the fair made his call to the men who milled in the city, in muck and in stink, the foul prince of the pigsty laid wait for his prince, for he feared all the kindness that flowed from the king; and the petulant prince sought to pierce in private the prince who in public had proffered his proof. So he asked for the aide of the others who hated the wishes and longing, the words of love. But the king was no fool, and he kenned the the crown of the lord of the lower across many leagues; with his spear and his shield at the ready, he spied that a plot 'gainst his person was hatched by the prince, the craven, the weakling, the cursed, the coward. Without doubt the king's power could deal death to the plotters, wreck without mercy with might beyond reckoning, kill the foul king in his cowardly crouch and be done with the plot, and proceed with the deeds he had come to the city to do; and to conquer the city of slime with the force of his sword, his invincible might making victory. But his listeners stared as he lowered his sword and he spoke to the plotters who sought for his life, and he told them their crime would topple their tower, that the ban of the king would be boon for the city, his fall be a triumph, defeat a trophy, his death be a crown far more fine than the coward's, securing his reign for the run of the age. So the wood of the spear pierced his skin with a wound on his front, eyes all open, and feeling the entry, the split of his skin and the billowing blood; and in sorrow and smile he went down to the dust.
A triumph in tears and in broken bones, a victory bubbling with blood from his veins, a win in the wounds and the withering life he laid down in the dirt on that darkest of days. And he fell with a weight of frightening bulk, as if moon and stars and sky had been mauled and collapsed to the land all at once; and so lurched all the houses and hills and the whole of the earth; and the blood of the king, the bulwark and bastion, was washing the dirt and the dust of the world. And in sorrow the sun fully ceased in his sadness to shine forth his light, and so languished in shadow a world weeping at wounds from the wood. And the city of filth without sense of its foulness gave glee in their gladness at the fall of the good, baring their teeth and beating their breasts at the night of their arms that had murdered the king; jeering and sneering, they jabbed and they snarled at the king of peace, now encased in dust.