In the age before King Arthur and before the Table Round –
When Druid power still was strong
Their sway unchallenged, right or wrong –
Blood sacrifices spilt their entrails on the stony ground.
But Merlin rose to fight their power
In myrtle grove and oaken bower
And there amidst the standing stones, Merlin his battle found.
“God abhors human-sacrifice!” the mage roared as he spoke.
And he raised his staff on high
Calling witness from the sky.
Then by summoning his power, their stone table there he broke.
But the druids joining forces
Urged the stars to change their courses
And they cursed the wizard standing there, who came and them bespoke.
Then the druids raised a tempest, and the lightning blazed and flared –
Still the druids chant their curse
Give Merlin death – or give him worse!
But the wizard raised a burning whirlwind. Druids stopped and stared –
While the sparks shot from his eyes
All his enemies apprise
Their foeman is strong. So realising, they blacker magic dared.
Next the earth is rent asunder, for the demons rise from hell
Spouting sickening, choking breath
Calling out – demanding death.
But the wizard-mage withstood them all: he knew a stronger spell.
After hymns he chants a psalm
And the devils take alarm –
And despite the tempest and earthquake: with Merlin all was well.
So he smashed their oaks to matchwood. Merlin’s hand set them afire!
With the helpless druids raging
Despite their black arts engaging.
For their lightnings stabbed in vain. Their demons, robbed of their desire,
Sunk back down into the earth
Merlin now had shown his worth.
Last, he overthrew the standing stones to form a shattered pyre.
Merlin could not be overmatched. The druids knew it well.
But where strength could not prevail
Treachery may yet avail.
So they Nimwe sent. Beguiling him, at last old Merlin fell –
For the she-witch Merlin bound
Wrapped him in foul magic round
Made to sleep, but never waking. Trapped within his magic cell.