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Kareen's Lament.

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To call this insanity an Empire
is to be kind. To call this a marriage
is to be kinder still, and more cruel. Though I am young,
I know this world, my Barrayar.
the land of death and birth,
the land where a dream

dies without ever being more than a dream.
Because this is Empire,
a prison where your power is your birth
and your birth is your power. Where your marriage
is a chain around your neck. This is Barrayar,
a land that consumes its young

whole, makes them forget they are young,
stripping them of any held-close dream
of a better world. This is Barrayar,
where I am sacrificed to the insanity that is Empire,
sacrificed to a monster through this marriage
that is no less worthy to be called horror than the myth of birth

from a powerful man's skull, a birth
that will never allow you to be young --
a woman's birth. Because marriage
is a constant -- to dream
of something else is to deny the forces of Empire,
deny the prison of this women's world of Barrayar,

where you are staked out to die. Not the men's world of Barrayar,
a land where your noble birth
means you may fight and die for your Empire
and waste your youth on wars, where being young
means that you may yet still dream
and believe your marriage

may be a joy and not merely a marriage
of men's power through the coin of women's bodies. On this man's world of Barrayar,
I am a woman. And any longed-for dream
is tied in jeweled chains until a birth
of a son, one more innocent young
dreamer to be sacrificed to the beast of Empire.

Caught in this marriage, chained until a birth
on Barrayar, where young
and old men alike yet still dream of Empire.