Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Poem a Day 28

Silk and Blood

A wild soldier in a wilder war
waved his sword in shining sun;
"Sword!" he cried, "What do you want?"
In a voice of steel the sword exclaimed:
  "No drink is better than drink of blood."

A young maiden fair, with hair like silk
  (No string is stronger than string of silk)
out to the mill at sunrise went,
dreaming of times in future tense,
dreaming of dresses of finest sheen
  (No string is stronger than string of silk),
washing the wool with arms laid bare.

Up from the war a soldier comes,
catching a sight of the pretty maid.
  (No drink is better than drink of blood.)
Trinkets he gave her; she went away crying.
  No drink is better than drink of blood!
  No string is stronger than string of silk!
  Who will carry the word through the woods?
Crying she went home, seeking her mother;
"Child!" cried her mother, "it may be made right!
Take out your dress; your father will journey;
take out a silk dress, to be a bride!"
  (No string is stronger than string of silk.)

But out to the barn went the maid, teary-eyed
  (No string is stronger than string of silk).
A long silken cord she wound and wound
  (No string is stronger than string of silk).
Up she strung it, swinging upon it:
  No string is stronger than string of silk.

The fires are dampened; the mourners are crying.
  Who will carry the word through the woods?
Perhaps the bear will lumber along,
speaking the word fashioned by tears.
  Who will carry the word through the woods?
Perhaps the wolf will lope, long and lean,
speaking the word formed from a curse.
  Who will carry the word through the woods?
Perhaps the fox will glide through the bushes,
speaking the word of death and despair.
  Who will carry the word through the woods?
The hare will! The hare, the rabbiting coney,
will jump through the woods spreading the word.

The soldier caught the jumping hare
  (No drink is better than drink of blood).
The soldier shook the hare, speaking with laughter,
"Nice, tasty dinner to put in the stewpot!"
  (No drink is better than drink of blood).
Up spoke the long-ear, trembling in whisker:
"Not for the stewpot today am I destined!
  Who will carry the word through the woods?
I carry the word through the dark woods:
The maiden you knew wound silken cord
  (No string is stronger than string of silk);
she swung herself upon it in sorrow;
No more will she laugh in the warm summer sun."

The wild soldier seized his sword,
looking at it as it glinted in firelight.
A day he honed it to razor's edge
  (No drink is better than drink of blood),
a second day he honed it to part at a touch
  (No drink is better than drink of blood),
a third day he honed it to thinnest edge
  (No drink is better than drink of blood),
and went to the field and took out his sword
  (No drink is better than drink of blood).
His hand did not hold it; the earth held the sword
  (No drink is better than drink of blood),
hilt in the ground and point to the sky
  (No drink is better than drink of blood).
The sword's aim was true; the point went through:
  No drink is better than drink of blood.

The blood drips on earth, the ravens are cawing.
  Who will carry the word through the woods?
Perhaps the honey-thief will lumber along,
speaking the word fashioned by edge.
  Who will carry the word through the woods?
Perhaps the fox will streak through the trees,
speaking the word fashioned by sword.
  Who will carry the word through the woods?
The wolf will! His jaws are red with blood,
fresh from a soldier, and a hare for chaser:
  No drink is better than drink of blood.

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