Brotherly Love

In ancient times in lands quite far, far away
existed a kingdom renowned for peace and harmony.
To its beloved king and queen, twin sons - in every way
identical and exceptional - were born. As you shall see,

for they are the subject of my tale, no two brothers ever
have loved each other more, nor ever grown into a finer pair
of men. Exquisite in mind and body, in all studies clever,
both excel in academics, with none better schooled anywhere.

Historians, artists, musicians, poets - they are groomed
to be a humane king able to rule the kingdom well,
warriors as well - for a king without military skills is doomed.
Either could be a king quite rare, but a mere twenty minutes did tell.

The older son, born twenty minutes before his younger twin,
shall be king upon the father’s death. To ensure the proper son
be identified, the king has from the younger brother’s left hand
the little finger’s distal joint severed. As teens, the blood does run

hot in the older brother’s veins, “None shall separate us in any way,”
as he cuts off his similar finger tip as an act of true brotherly love.
They are inseparable, thinking and acting always as one, until the day
the father dies and a new king is made. “I swear to the gods above

I shall be your faithful servant and right hand, willingly giving
my life for yours. Nothing done by man shall ever come between us,”
the younger brother does pledge to his king. True to his word, saving
his brother’s life not once but twice in the years ahead, he lives just

as pledged: The king becomes separated while hunting lions.
His brother, hearing a commotion, runs to the nearby hilltop.
In the valley below, the king’s chariot is overturned; he is lying
nearby, being stalked by a male lion. A spear hurtles down, stops

his attack, as the brother jumps astride the lion, his sword piercing
the lion’s heart. “Brother, you could have stood upon that rise
and watched yourself become king.” “No, brother, for my having
a hand in your death would make me a king I grew to despise.”

Several years later in battle with the neighboring army’s scouts,
the king is surrounded, about to be overwhelmed, when his twin,
fighting with the ferocity akin more to a god than man, routs
the enemy troop, assuring the two brothers this battle to win.

“Are you still not desirous of my throne, brother?” “Never, sire.
My love for you as brother far exceeds my love of being king.”
Truer love among brothers has never existed, but fate conspires
against these twins. To ensure peace for his kingdom, the thing

required of the king is to take as his queen the oldest daughter of
the neighboring king - a political union. “They are a country
of barbarians, but I must put my kingdom’s interests above
my own.” However, when she arrives, the king is amazed to see

the woman of his dreams - a lady of greatest beauty and charm,
lovely in every way. Likewise, she is surprised at her splendid new
husband. Soon they have fallen madly in love. This means no harm
shall befall either country, their love breeding peace and goodwill anew.

Though all would seem fine - with peace for the kingdom,
true love for the king - the younger brother is in constant torment,
for he too has fallen hopelessly in love with the queen. Some
nights, his loins aflame with lust for knowing her, what’s meant

to be done fills his nightmares, making him awaken half-insane.
“To have her for my own, I must kill my brother. I would do
it and be king…not for myself but to possess her as my queen.”
Months pass in anguish, riddled with rage, guilt like he never knew.

For the first time he envies, resents his brother. “By an accident of birth,
twenty minutes out of a lifetime, it is he who gets to stir her love, for
she would love me just the same - we are identical, of equal worth.
With each passing day the death of my brother appeals to me more!”

Finally, his love compels him to act. The dawn reveals a royal death.
The king hurries to his dead brother’s bedside. “Somehow I never knew
you were capable of such an act.” He kneels, sobbing, gasping for breath,
“Why?” His suicide note: “Brother, I do this out of great love for you.”

Harry Edward Gilleland      12.26.02