Hello, fellow wordsmiths at Professional Storyteller.
I took fifteen years to write an epic poem in iambic tetrameter which I've recently begun to serialize at www.oddsbodkin.com
at my blog under The Rowan Canticles: A Tale Told in the Ancient Manner
. I'll add Cantos regularly for your amusement.
The Rowan Canticles
A Tale told in the Ancient Manner
Some say the spirit lives alone
Within its cage of flesh and bone
And that one never truly hears
Another's song, though sung for years.
Perhaps those sad empiricists
Should hearken to the lyricists
Who, 'gainst the odds, to hope still cling,
Whilst in imprisoned souls they sing.
Here then, a tale, not told, but sung,
Its faux anachronistic tongue
Silvered on purpose for the rhyme,
Its syntax bent. Now how much time
‘Twill take to lure you down these trails
The ancients walked, before the tails
Of verse grew rhymeless with ennui
And self-absorbed modernity,
Well, who can say? A game to play,
This poem is: a longish lay
Of couplets, quatrains, whorls and more—
Anachronisms, well, galore—
As well as free verse here and there,
Which to itself one must compare
To find the far-flung symphony
Splashed ‘cross its blank cacophony.
A thoughtless act can change the world.
Its seed--by Time’s thick mists enswirled—
Will slowly grow beyond mind’s reach
To gather weight and girth as each
Ensuing day compounds the woe
It spawned, until, life’s quid pro quo
Comes due. ‘Twas so one fateful morn
When Asmo--he to kingship born—
The High Prince of the Rowan Hills,
Boot-splashed his way through sparkling rills
And drew his blade. “I dare you!” laughed
Calmon of Clu, mead-sotted, daft,
And wild-eyed, too. Before them stood
A Rowan tree, its gracile wood
And arc of limbs alone within
A ring of trees. “Oh, dear. A sin,”
Asmo’s drinking companion grinned;
“What, look! The braggart looks chagrinned
And chastened. Lost your nerve then, eh?
I should’ve known you’d cast away
Your only chance to break a rule
In your whole life!” “Shut up, you fool,”
Growled Asmo, “I’ll do it. Just watch.”
He flipped away the sweat-stained swatch
Of long dark hair hung down his cheek
And felled the little tree. A smeek
Of sizzling sap burned in his nose
As Asmo danced back ‘pon his toes.
Then he and Calmon, slapping backs,
Rode off along the well-worn tracks
That wound down from the sacred copse
Of hilltop Rowans. Both made stops
To empty bladders ‘midst the brush,
Then elbowed through the mead-house crush
Up to the bar to drink yet more
And chuckle o’er their land’s quaint lore,
Thou shalt not harm a Rowan Tree.
“Aye, p’raps for them. Not you and me,
Though,” Asmo quipped and quaffed his mead.
T'was then the Rowan's vengeful rede
Commenced. The old, dead wood shot sprigs--
Quick serpents’ tongues of twisting twigs--
From out the brim of Calmon’s bowl
And gripped his head. The Rowan-soul
Within the ancient bowl yawned wide,
Then bit his face to seal inside
His nose and mouth. He reared and fell,
Struggling to foist the choking swell
Of pintish waves at his breath’s shore.
Though flail and kick he did, three more
Tough leaf-blade withes strapped his head
Then bore into it. Shot with dread,
Asmo leapt down and tried to tear
The horrid things from Calmon’s hair.
But lo, those leaves, like razors, fell
Upon his frantic hands, pell-mell.
He kicked away in magic-dread,
Afraid to help. Calmon lay dead,
A bloody shrub grown 'pon his head,
His face a bowl. And there--in red
And smoking script across the bowl--
He spied words, writ as ‘pon a scroll:
"But your blood, hewer of my wood,
My wind-tossed flesh, by seasons ringed,
Will gush when life does sweetest thrive
Like flowers berries soon to be.
Then will the lifeblood in your veins
Flood my old roots, and nourish me."
To Asmo’s knowledge, Rowans rose
To make crops grow. Now terror froze
Him in his place--the guilty kind--
For now he’d learned the truth behind
His people’s ancient homily:
Thou shalt not harm a Rowan Tree.
In his young life he’d never thought
To probe the adage much. Now caught
In his own folly, Asmo stared
At what he’d wrought, at what he’d dared
To do. The young prince rose and fled.
To ride on home--his best friend dead,
A sacred grove tree felled as well--
Was more than he could face. To dwell
Near Rowans, now that he’d been cursed
By one, seemed madness. Wyrd-coerced,
Panicked and fearing ev’ry tree
He saw, he galloped hopelessly
For his land’s borders, ‘neath the arch
He’d always loved, and t’ward the march
Between his Uncle’s Rowanwolds
And forests dotted with freeholds
Where Rowans did not choke the slopes
Along the road, and he had hopes
Of p’raps gaining some lost plateau
Where Rowan-magic could not go.
Past farms he rode, their streams ablaze
In sunlight; through the smoky haze
Of villages he’d never seen;
Past goat-strewn hills where treestumps, green
With withes, sucked the elder light
From earth’s dark realms. In mindless flight,
On through the night beneath the moon
He galloped, a dark shabaroon
Whom no one knew, and on t’ward dawn,
Until, exhausted and withdrawn,
He slept against his horse’s back
Next to the dusty, lonely track
He’d followed last. It passed through fields
Well clear of any Rowan-wealds.
By noon-time, sun red-lit his lids
And wakened him. Two katydids
Were mating ‘pon a nodding stem
Above his face. Disturbing them
Seemed not the thing to do just then,
So he lay still and thought again
Of what he’d done. “Great Gods, I’m dead,”
He sighed aloud, shaking his head.
“Will Uncle Bruss forgive me this?
I don’t see how.” No cowardice
Had Asmo ever shown--t’ward men
At least. But this plant specimen
Used magic for its weaponry,
Not swords or pikes. “ ‘Tis time to flee
A little further then, I guess,”
He moaned and gently pulled the tress
Of grass to one side. Clinging tight,
The bugs seemed bent on their delight
As he stepped lightly by. The road
Led onward ‘til the distance showed
A wide lake, burning in the sun
With coruscations. Two hour’s run
Brought him to hills splashed pink and blue
By springtime’s recent rendezvous
With autumn’s seeds. Far off, a town,
Its upper outskirts dripping down
The hillsides, puddled at the lake’s
Northwestern shore. On through the brakes
And wildflowers, Asmo approached
A cattle fence whose rails encroached
‘Pon meadows at the town’s purlieus.
Knee-deep in blooms, she bent to choose
Her flowers there, a maiden did.
Braids roped her long dark hair amid
Bright ribbons wound in here and there.
If she saw him, she didn’t care
To show it, as he slowed to stare
At her intriguing derrière.
The Rowan Canticles © 2008 Odds Bodkin/Rivertree Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.