I started writing this piece as a parody of the kinds of nostalgic longing songs described in the first verse, but the metaphor of flame became far more poignant as I continued to work on it. The first line of the draft’s chorus, which didn’t make it into the final version, was “I wish that my kingdom would stop burning.” When I moved from Pasadena to Portland, the newfound perspective helped me find the message I was trying to convey, and I finished the lyrics in April 2018. I workshopped the text with Briauhnna Phelps / Colette la trouvere (support her on Patreon!) in November of that year. While the tune isn’t yet finalized, I debuted the song at Potrero War on May 25, 2019.
This is a deeply personal song. It contains difficult material about a very dark time for Caid. It’s not for everyone, but I hope that the message at the end of the song rings true for everyone who reads it.
Expat’s Lament (Caid is Burning)
A standard refrain echoes time and again,
Wherever a minstrel might roam;
An ode to the beauty of the land of one’s youth,
And the hope of the bard to go home.
So oft my thoughts speed to the land of Caid
Whose forests and mountains inspire,
But from desert to shore, through both peacetime and war
My homeland is ravaged by fire.
Though many a foothill has fallen in flame,
The walls of the fortress stayed strong.
And the love that we shared seemed in no way impaired
By discussions of right and of wrong.
But in more recent years, stoking hopes, stoking fears,
The wind carried both ash and reform,
And while some feared their game was now threatened by flame,
Others found themselves finally warm.
Some started to shout, “Why do you shut us out,
When we hold you in such high esteem?
Though we have our own ways, please let all of us play,
For we wish to take part in the Dream.”
But others misread their intentions, and said
To their friends “We want none of your kind.
We shall never let go of the old status quo,
Or embrace this new game you’ve designed.”
As a peer I had tried to comfort both sides,
But my efforts were all made in vain,
By the king I was freed of my oath to Caid
Though my heart there would always remain.
And as I set out from my home in the south,
The flames of disharmony grew.
Division and strife became everyday life,
And consumed the fair kingdom I knew.
So now I rest here in the lands of An Tir,
And I bundle in woolens and fur.
The locals are kind, and not one seems to mind
If occasional missteps occur.
But news has come forth to the lands of the North
That an empty crown rests on the throne.
And a regent decrees, “We are one family,
Love each other, or we all die alone.”
They say those who heard were moved by her words
As they stood in the home they had burned,
And they answered the call to rebuild every hall,
Til the warmth of the kingdom returned.
For though fire may burn, so still can it warm
When tended and handled with care
May the lands of Caid find the warmth that they need
In bounty to spread and to share.
May the crucible’s heat make the kingdom complete.
May it strengthen her people like steel.
May her honor guard stand and bring peace to the land
And may Caid finally heal.