Paul and Rhiannon

He was working his way through his seventh life.
He had been, in lives past, a prince, an aesthete, an ascetic, a poet, a magician, a philosopher.
He walloped junk on the docks.
He had learned to drink easily, to swear beautifully, to leer at and pursue women.
He was a beast of the seacoast.

His thoughts were high and otherworldly.
His friends loved him passionately.
His arm had been broken three times, his nose twice, in cheerful fighting.
His fingers were quick to learn the use of a knife; in this the prince, the poet, and the walloper collaborated.
His dreams were quiet and serene.

He lived with a sullen woman named Rhiannon.
He treated her badly as she expected.
He came home one day, filthy with the junk of the docks, to find she had thrown his few belongings on the lawn and set them on fire.
He was torn: the ascetic, the poet, and the aesthete were thrilled for wildly variant reasons, but the magician, the philosopher, and the prince were enraged.
He apologized to Rhiannon and disappointed all of them.

All the flesh had been boiled off of him by his continual rebirth.
Birds that he loved followed Rhiannon everywhere.
Paul was his name.