A gallant knight
In sunshine and in shadow
Had journeyed long
Singing a song
In search of Eldorado.
Eldorado! The mythical and elusive city that contained all the gold that any man's heart could desire.
South American Indians and north American cowboys dreamed of riding into Eldorado.
Our politics have the atmosphere and the storyline of all great cowboy pictures.
The main characters are as well known to us as were Gary Cooper, Alan Ladd or Burt Lancaster.
They have been in other pictures and played other parts and we know every subtlety in the tone of their voice and every physical idiosyncrasy.
They have become part of who we are.
We cheer or hiss when they come on screen but we know that the real action happens when they appear.
Our politics have brought us to a place where Eldorado is in sight.
It is a short ride down the road.
The Indians and the cavalry are standing beside their horses ready to ride.
The tension in the air is palpable and the riders are becoming more nervous.
When the orders come they don't know if they will be riding into the dream or scattering to the hills.
The governments are nervous too. Is it best to leave the riders outside and in sight of Eldorado hoping that ambition and tiredness will lure them to the dream?
Or is it best to fire off a shot that will drive them on?
The danger of a shot is that it will stampede the whole lot and it will be difficult to round them up again. Will a shot drive them on or will it bolt them in all directions?
If only it were a picture!
But it is ourselves we are watching and it is the matter of the life that faces us that is being played out.
There are big questions being decided about living and working together.
Are we capable of moving beyond our history to a more unified history or are we doomed to the narrowness and the bigotry of our own tribalism?
One DUP politician said that it was naive to think it would be sorted out in three days in Leeds Castle. How naive of him!
The present crowd have been at it for more than a decade and some for a lot longer than that.
Time has never been the issue.
Fear and twisted fundamentalism have been the destructive factors.
The DUP have been given the keys to Eldorado.
They wanted the IRA to get rid of all their weapons and go away.
They wanted a period of 'decontamination' before Sinn Féin could enter government and
they wanted changes to the 'accountability' mechanisms within the Good Friday Agreement.
Serious people advised them if they wanted the first badly enough then they should remove the second two from the negotiating table.
They were told that the 'decontamination' demand would never run and the accountability one would be unlikely to get past the other parties.
To be fair to them they quietly dropped the 'decontamination' issue and they did it without any undue comment or criticism from their backwoods' men.
But they stuck doggedly to the 'accountability'.
They are suffering as a result.
They discovered that the period in the wilderness has left them poorly briefed in the intricacies of the workings of the agreement.
They walked into a wall of 'position papers' in the cupboards of the SDLP and the UUP that proposed improvements to the intricate workings of the assembly, the executive and the north/south bodies but which adhered to the principles of power-sharing.
They are now surprised at the doggedness of the SDLP, the cynicism of the UUP and the relaxedness of Sinn Féin.
They are under the spotlight and, to a degree, they are under pressure.
Their one comfort is that both governments especially the British want devolution so badly that they are prepared to find fig leafs that will cover the more exposed parts of the DUP.
Both governments will produce a paper next week that appears to give the DUP comfort but cannot in any way substantively change the fundamentals of the agreement.
Neither government cares that much but they are conscious that if the paper goes too far in the direction of DUP demands Sinn Féin will withdraw their offer of the end of violent republicanism and place it, instead, in the context of joint authority and an all-Ireland agenda.
Equally frightening is the growing prospect of forming a town council in Eldorado.
It could well end up with only Sinn Féin and themselves taking part. The UUP and the SDLP are giving serious thought to the possibility of turning down ministerial positions in any new executive.
They are both exploring the possibility of going into opposition.
The photograph of a cabinet table populated only by high-profile DUP and Sinn Féin people gives many within the DUP the heebie-jeebies. The prospect of 'born again' Christian brethren standing on the steps of Stormount hoisting banners describing Ian Paisley as a Lundy and a heathen would be, for some, the final irony and for others the worst nightmare.
If these political shenanigans were not so serious and defining of who we will be in the future and what kinds of communal lives we will be gifted, they would be hilarious.
But even in the midst of pathos and chaos we should be open to learning.
What we should take away from the last few weeks is that gold is a good metaphor for politics.
Everybody needs some of it and you won't get too far without a fair amount of it in your pocket.
But if you get too greedy and look for too much then it is likely to destroy you.
Eldorado is the dream but Eldorado can so easily turn into a nightmare.