My Love Is Like a Panther Swift

Back in June, I had a lovely surprise.  Chad Merkley, a long-time member of the Wednesday Wandering community, sent me the following:

“I really enjoyed Artemis Awakening.  I’m excited for the sequelOne small element that really grabbed my attention was the song that Adara wrote.  I felt that it needed more verses, and a melody, so here’s a recording of what I came up with.  It’s a pretty rough recording, and my vocals need work, but I wanted to share what you managed to inspire.

Jamming with the Panther

Jamming with the Panther

“Your lyrics had kind of an old English ballad feel to them, so I tried to continue the with the theme, and then in the last two stanzas, to reverse it, where the singer gets punished for his callousness, with a tragic yet just ending.  Here are the lyrics…”

(The first two stanzas are what I wrote for Artemis Awakening.  The remainder are Chad’s original work.)

My love is like a panther swift.

I caught her with my snare.

And after I had captured her,

I left her hanging there.


My love is like a rabbit fleet.

I caught her in a trap.

And after I had captured her,

I gave her heart a snap.


My love is like a shining fish

I hooked her on my line.

And after I had pulled her in

I left her choking dry.


My love is like a cherry tree

Sweet fruit she gave to me.

And after I did eat my fill,

The rest I cast away.


My love is like a rocky cliff

That none but I should scale.

But as I climbed the wind grew stiff

And my limbs began to fail.


My stony love, she cast me down

And spurned me at her feet.

And broken I lay gasping there

And my heart it ceased to beat.

Chad went on to note that the lyrics and melody had come together in a couple of hours.  He’d written the melody on a dulcimer, then expanded with chords.

Chad added: “I have no idea if my melody and lyrics remotely resemble your thoughts about how the song should go.  I think the idea of the reversal or turn is faithful to Adara’s attitude and feelings.  Also, there’s no mention in the book about what kind of music or instrumentation is available on Artemis.  So I just went with the instruments I had, and used a traditional Dorian scale (common in British and Celtic music).”

Chad touched on something that I’d wanted to get into in the novel, but couldn’t without going into a long tangent that would have diluted the scene.  Why would Adara have written those two stanzas?  After all, they indicate both the existence of an abusive and controlling relationship and her awareness of it…  Is this how Adara the Huntress would think?

Well, yes, at the point in her life when Adara wrote those words, I think it was how she might have thought.  She was younger then, not yet “Adara the Huntress,” only “Adara, student of Bruin the Hunter.”  Envisioning herself as the prize would have been tantalizing… if only to a point.   Chad anticipated the manner in which – had I decided to write the entire song – I probably would have taken it.  Adara wouldn’t have minded presenting herself as a hunter’s prize, if in the end the hunter got his comeuppance.  As I wrote to Chad after I had read his take, I bet she would have enjoyed the reversal – and I bet that in later years Julyan might have left off those final verses.  Or maybe he’d have left them.  There’s nothing some women like so much as soothing a man’s broken heart.

When Chad wrote me, he made clear that he did not intend to poach on my work.  He and I have carefully worked out a creative agreement that gives him permission to use these lines and gives us a shared lyric writing credit.  I appreciated that sensitivity – so rare in these days of “sampling” and outright piracy.

The music is Chad’s alone.  I liked his choice of scale, and certainly some variation of guitar and dulcimer would be used on Artemis.  Chad gave me permission to post the chords here, so that those of you who also make music can give the song a try.  Here are two variations.  The first set is closer to the melody as sung:

Chords (according to actual pitch)

/ Em D / G D / G Em / Bm — /

/ G F#m / Em D / Em D(Bm) / Em (D) / Em–:/

This second set permits more precise duplication of the guitar chords as he played them—Capo 2:

/ Dm C / F C / F Dm / Am — /

/ F Em / Dm C / Dm C(Am) / Dm (C)/ Dm — :/

Chad concluded by saying: “I just wanted to know that you were a source of creative inspiration.  I’ve enjoyed many of your books, and I enjoy following your blog and interacting with the community there.  There’s been all kinds of thought-provoking and fun conversations that come from that.  Thanks for your work.”

One of the things a writer learns is that when a story goes out into the world, it takes on a slightly new shape with every person who reads it.  I really enjoyed seeing what Artemis Awakening inspired for Chad.  I’ve already seen a few drawings, too.  There’s a great Terrell out there, readying his lance to take on the metal spider…

Knowing a story has inspired someone else to be creative is really neat!  Speaking of inspiration, Scot Noel and my third chat about the Art Contest and the nature of inspiration is now up.  You can find it here.

In this one we take a look at Social Media, the Popular Prize Winner, and the importance of remembering the reader’s perspective.  Hope you enjoy…


7 Responses to “My Love Is Like a Panther Swift”

  1. Sally Says:

    Nice tune and guitar playing, and very much an Elizabethan feel. I’d like to hear it with the dulcimer (or a lute!)

  2. Chad Merkley Says:

    A big thanks to Jane for being so enthusiastic and supportive, and especially for spending the time to work out the creative agreement.

    I have two different recordings of this song on my SoundCloud page. The one Jane linked too is the second one I did, with revised lyrics, and just vocals and guitar. The first one I did I ambitiously did as a multi-track, recording guitar, dulcimer and vocals separately. The link is here:

    Musically, I’m happier with the second recording. I’ve still got a ways to go, though.

  3. Jim Says:

    I really like the way the verses that Chad wrote first continue the theme of those that Jane wrote, then turned it back on the narrator, both literally and emotionally. I also like the tune he wrote for it quite a bit, very much in the right tone of the song; it really feels right for Artemis!

  4. janelindskold Says:

    I like the dulcimer version, too…

    But, then, I really like dulcimer…

  5. Nicholas Wells Says:

    Reminds me of the Hobit movies. Specifically the “Over Misty Mountains Cold” song sung by the dwarves.

    I can only imagine what it felt like to hear a part of your story come to life like that, even if it may or may not be what you had in mind.

    • janelindskold Says:

      You’re exactly right about the excitement element, Nicholas… Chad’s showing how he understood Adara was a bonus.

      And his courtesy, professional to professional, regarding my copyright was the nuts and whipped cream on the sundae!

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