The king of both forest and glade
wanders through his hall of trees
and stops by a hut within the shade
where a song laces within the breeze.
A patchwork fool lives in that abode
who knows every song ever sung
and the king sits down to hear an ode
from a fool with a golden tongue.
The fool is crowned just as well
as this antlered king among kings;
his head hung with many a silver bell
that jingles and rings as he sings.
He has a fair voice, and fair cadence,
as he sings to honor wisdom and wit,
but the jingle-jangle bells incense
the monarch into a wrathful fit.
The monarch chases the fool away
who drops behind him his jingling motley
and the king attacks it where it lay,
the attire entwining quite tautly
with the spikes of his bony, branching crown
so that each furious toss of his head
jingles the bells hanging down,
not free, but ringing instead.
And henceforth he is lost forever
to a fury as unceasing as Hell’s,
racing and raking and resting never—
unable to escape the jester’s bells.