This is the epic seven part translation of the parody “The Rhyme of the Poet Laureate”.
Patterned after “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Coleridge.
Sometime in the future…
RHYME OF THE POET LAUREATE
He was a Poet Laureate,
a tired, lonely lout.
Beneath a tree on park bench brown,
all rife with fear and doubt.
A tattered man, a gentleman,
his words could touch and heal;
he reaches deep to hold his pain:
and writes the way it feels.’
He grasps his pen in meaty hands,
“I had this muse,” quoth he.
“It was what drove this grey-haired loon
in pursuit of poetry!”
He rambles on with moistened eyes—
emotions fuel his fire,
scribbling words expressively:
born of life’s desire.
Insiders stood along the street:
a road he had once taken;
and none spake on that writing fool,
the Laureate not shaken.
“My muse I’ll pen; I’ll rhyme again,”
his spirit was quite good,
above the fray, they heard him say,
“I’ll even rhyme for food!”
The sun did rise above the lake,
near verdant fields he festered,
to write a tome about his home,
‘twas thus he was sequestered.
Deeper and deeper every day,
he delved to search his soul —”
the Writing-Guests, then beat their chests;
and wrested away control.
The Good one paced along the shore,
red-cheeked as a rose is she;
shaking her head before he goes
to spake open, foolishly.
The Writing-Guests usurped his name,
so he cannot choose but read;
and none spake on that writing fool,
Poet Laureate indeed!
The “bitter storm” he helped create,
no right he wrote could harm them:
he writ with his extensive muse,
no effort could disarm them.
The verse that he chose flowed freely,
And thoughts conveyed were really
ones not shared for those to deal;
a randomly worded pome,
and forward bends his tired head,
the Laureate went home.
And soon will come both mist and snow,
a blizzardous hellacion:
and ice, sufficed, to cool the ire,
once hot as all damnation.
And through the piles of snow most vile
did make the road not travelled:
these shapeless men, not foe nor friend—
his rhyme in time, disheveled.
A word was here, its rhyme was there,
all thought was left for dead:
quite cracked, his muse, now battered, bruised,
left noises in thine head!
At length he’d ford the Eerie Lake,
thorough the ice floe came;
emblazoned on his Christian soul,
he nailed it in God’s name.
Uptaking pen and legal pad,
and mound on mound of scrap,
the words he spilt with tempered-guilt;
the Laureate wrote his rap!
A good east wind blew o’er the lake;
the Ablatross did hear it,
and every try, to just deny,
was quelled by Laureate spirit!
In misty head, of things we dread,
our ire doth blaze and smoke;
and through the night, to morning’s light,
we glimmer through in hope.”
“God save us all”, the poets call,
“from the fiends that plague our trust!—
Why vext, thou so?’— With pen in tow
he just writes the rhymes he must.
“The sun now rises in the West:
to sea where we all end,
still hidden in mist, on the bank
here, where the waters bend.
The Good east wind is blowing still,
but no sweet words could fly,
“I’ve stayed away with things to say”
came the Laureate’s cry!
For they had done such hellish things,
and it would bring him “woe”:
these words averted; left unheard
as such, they’ll never know.
“No way!” said they, “no words you say,
as such, we’ll never know!”
No candle flickers; snuffed to death,
glorious sunrise came:
these words averted; left unheard,
had diverted just the same.
‘Twas right, said they, no words to say,
had diverted just the same.
The lake breeze wafted, foam did churn,
the furrow followed free;
they were not first that ever learned
the pow’r of poetry.
His pen did light on parchment bright,
but words remained within;
not to speak, for silence spake
in volumes ‘cause of him!
For in a misted, sullen sky,
inspired by darkened things,
upon the prest page virgin white,
no verbiage did it bring.
Day after day, time after time,
he stuck; no breath nor notion;
for idle sat his ready quill
filled of pitch black potion.
Paper, paper, every where,
and not a word was writ;
Paper, paper, every where,
with nary ink on it.
Not very deep his muse: O Christ!
without His blessings be!
Yea, rhymy word things festered there
within each rhymy plea.
Within, without, without a doubt
inspired thoughts take flight;
The paper, white like winter’s snow,
in anguish, stayed thee white.
For some were dreams assured to tell
of love that doth still plague us;
Years buried deep throughout mine sleep,
but who with words to trust?
And every voice, though utters none,
was silenced from their heart;
They would not speak; no more, no less,
as they spake right from the start.
Ah! Rue these days! what empty looks
gets he from old and new!
Instead this is the cross he bares
about his neck, in view.”
“There passed some days, a weary time.
Each voice expounded verse.
A weary time! Where is thy rhyme?
How pines his weary heart—
when looking aft, suspect he feel
a flutter in said heart.
At first he sensed a little pulse,
and then it seemed a beat;
It ebb’d and flow’d, then took control;
a vict’ry in defeat.
A pulse, a beat, vict’ry’d defeat!
but still he feared and feared:
as if it dogged him through the night,
and blocked his rhyme, revered.
With voices coiled, with lips to strike,
he could’st none laugh nor smile;
through uttered drought there dumb he stood!
to lift his nib, he scribbled words,
and cried, “No style! No style!”
With voices coiled, with lips to strike,
agape, not heard, nor read:
no mercy! In their joy did grin,
and all at once their voice, a din,
as they all hope he’d heed.
Here! Here! (He cried) attack no more!
Whether to work him well;
without his rhyme, without his words,
his verse hath gone to hell!
All set aside, their words a-flame,
that week was well nigh done!
Almost upon those words a-flame,
nestled down the broad stroked pen;
stubby little nib wrote fiercely
betwixt Hades and the sun.
So sat the sun, bright with hell-fire,
(This hath been a healing place!)
But, now a dungeon-grate revealed
to shield him in his space.
Alas! (Thought he, his words spake loud)
How soon the mind denies!
Does verse set sail into the sun,
or spread her wings to fly?
Are those his thoughts, which his soul
releases, as through a portal?
Who is this man and his goal?
Doth he cheat Death, or feel its toll?
Is not this man mere mortal?
His lips would part, his words were free,
in phrases gilt with gold:
His heart once gushed with poetry,
but this nightmare sets not free,
and robs this man’s blood that flowed?
A naked shell inside had come,
his lot as cast lay prone;
‘This game is done! You’ve won! You’ve won!
now leave this loon alone!’
A darkened pall; consumes them all:
in one stride comes the night;
With not-heard whispers near all ears,
all logic slips from sight.
They listened and glanced all around!
For fear their hearts, once lost were found,
and life’s blood seemed to drip!
Their clouded eyes, a fog most thick,
the Laureate for sure was sick;
from his quill—feather to tip.
Till words in torrents filled his page
his ire, his fire returned enraged,
a journey lost, a wasted trip.
One by one, from his pen doth flow
written words that groan and sigh,
each to bring his page alive,
and leap forth into waiting eyes.
Four times fifty poetic folk,
(And I heard not sigh, nor groan)
With heavy hearts, like sponges soak
the muse that once they left alone.
Their souls did from their poems fly,—
as life so written and so lived!
And every soul as it passed by,
was like a blessing He would give!”
‘We hear thee, Poet Laureate!
but fear thy meaty hand!
For thou write long, thine muse is strong,
thine voice is in demand.
We fear thee and thy observant eye,
and thy sly poetic vent.’—
“Fear not, fear not, thou Writing-Guests!
This gift from Heaven, sent.
Alone, alone, we’re all alone,
alone with much to say!
And never the gods took pity on
a muse that went astray.
‘Women and men, so beautiful!
in all they pen and plea;
with a thousand, thousand rhymy things
live on; and so shall we.’
He came to draw his eyes away
to look on the grey-muse sea;
these works of wonder come to float,
for the sake of poetry.
He turned to heaven, as much to pray;
and hoped his prayer much girth,
a heartened whisper came and gave
his worded rhymes much worth.
In meditation, eyes clenched closed,
his words like babies born;
in his heart and mind, and their hearts and minds,
in poetic verse; expressed, refined
and words much less forlorn.
Not cold sweat, nor tired limbs could fall,
nor rot, nor stink do they:
the gaze which they once looked on him
had never passed away.
An oracle could never tell,
no spirit from on high;
But oh! More notable than that
is the fire in poet eyes!
Seven days and nights, inspired,
and their words for sure would fly.
Many moons traverse the night sky,
where angels do abide:
as softly worded poems raise,
to the height of stars beside.
The rhymes in time do nestle,
to touch the hearts and souls;
where the placid verses play,
the beauty, there will stay
performing poems role.
Beyond the shadow of his words
where once his muse expired:
they moved in tracks that he had left,
and where they feared, to be bereft
by him had been inspired.
Beyond the shadow of his words
he read their colorful expression:
in hues of blues, and mossy green,
a spectrum viewed, but rarely “seen”
in any writing session.
O happy living voices rise!
Their beauty to proclaim:
a spring of life to fill a heart,
so blessed, and so aware:
this vagrant muse which pitied me,
now blessed, and so aware.
And at that moment we did pray;
and from our hearts so free,
the weight of anger fell off, and sank
like lead into the sea.”
“Oh sleep! A safe and gentle thing,
beloved once from dream to dream!
But nightmares now invade his night!
The gentle sleep was swept from sight,
some sick demonic scheme.
Sweating buckets through his sleeping,
a fright, this night remained,
he dreamt that all his muse was mute;
and on awakening, felt drained.
His lips were crusted, throat was sore,
his garments saline moist;
sure he had written in his dreams,
and still no words were voiced.
He searched, and could not find his pen:
in the dead of night—almost,
a poem he penned had died mid-sleep,
and was a verbal ghost.
And soon there came a churning wind:
he did not venture out;
and in its sound he felt the pain,
which carried with it, doubt.
The terror burst into his head!
And a hundred sirens blared,
back and forth he thrashed about!
And to and fro, and in and out,
left shivered, shaken, scared.
The horrid gust did rattle glass,
a dust storm would ensue;
so strong it knocked him on his ass;
Poet Laureate, askew.
His clouded thoughts were black and thick
his words were all a-jumble:
like a house of cards from yard to yard,
making sense of anything was hard,
leaving him to mumble.
The cacophony inside his mind,
would force his muse asunder!
No harm in storms when safe and warm
and hiding from the thunder.
He rhymed, he stirred, throughout his prose,
he spake not, nor admitted;
it being strange, even in dreams,
to try to write half-witted.
The muse was steered, as he wrote on;
yet nary an idea thought;
the Laureate to work his wile,
using words he shouldn’t ought;
the Writing-Guests had raised voices—
surely, other choices could be wrought.
A body of poets, long since dead
could not have written worse:
the body of his poem died
going from bad to verse”
‘I fear thee, Poet Laureate!’
“Be still, thou Writing-Guest!
Apologies did not flee my brain
as faceless corpses come again
with us so nearly blest:
For when it dawned—they feigned alarm,
and clustered round their cause;
sweet sounding words never meant them harm,
nor give reason thus to pause.
Around, around, as each opined
then darted to the hills;
slowly the sounds came back around,
poetic warmth gone chilled.
Sometimes ‘tis better to let lie
after one has spoken,
sometimes the words are all they are,
and how they sometimes leave a scar
with feelings rent and broken!
And now ’twas like those barrels blasted
and now a looney tune;
and now it is a demon song,
that makes the angels swoon.
It ceased, and yet the loon writ on
a pleasant noise he tried,
but words were like a bitter pill
with nowhere left to hide.
Except in sleep could he retire
here, where his muse had died.
Till noon he slept a restless sleep,
no inhale did he make;
slowly and smoothly went his ship,
moving onward through this quake.
He would not kneel to beg amends,
he just kept writing hither,
his spirit soared: and it was he
that would pilot through this weather.
His poems sang in anguished words,
friendships stooped and withered.
The sun, would rise above the fray,
and fix upon their hearts:
But in a while they ‘gan agin,
with a short uneasy feelin’—
Back and forth in half the time
with a short uneasy feelin’.
Then like a coiled spring releas’d
there came a sudden bound:
it flung the fire into his words,
coming down with thoughts profound.
How long in this new snit they play,
he knows not to discern;
but ‘ere his living pome returns,
he heard and in thine heart he learns;
sounds as two voices in his head.
‘Is it he?’ quoth one, ‘Is this, Laureate?
By him who died upon cross,
with his cruel words he laid full heard,
the restless ones were at a loss.
The spirit which inspired his muse
in the land of mist and snow,
loved all his words that loved his own
to hear him is to know.’
The other was a calming voice,
as calm as morning dew:
Quoth he, ‘The man hath written sentence,
and sentence more will do.’
So tell me, tell me! Repeat once more,
Thy soft recall confirming—
What makes that poet write so fast?
What fuel is Laureate burning?
Still he a slave to muse and Lord,
the Laureate hath no malice;
his grand insight as well he write
within his lofty palace—
If he may know which words to sow;
for muse guides him deep and thoughtful.
See, brother, see! how graciously
he sometimes writ them awful.
But why moves his hand to pen so fast,
without idea or word?
The air is filled quite promptly,
the speed indeed, absurd.
Soar, brother, soar! S’more, s’more!
Or we shall be dejected:
not slow the flow that poet goes,
with the Laureate’s rant protected.
“He relents, and they sailed on
all in a gentle climate:
‘Twas right, alright, the heart’s delight;
these poem writing primates.
All stood together on the road,
no street parade was fitter:
all fixed on him their stony stares,
that was their swoon once bitter.
The pang, the verse, with which they plied,
had never gone unheard:
he could not draw his eyes from theirs,
he read them, every word.
And now this spell was broke: once more
he viewed the poetic scene,
and looked far forth, much greatness saw
of what he once had been—
Like once upon that lonesome road
doth pen in fear and dread,
and having once turned in his muse
now turns too many heads;
because he shows a rightful skill
doth close behind him shred.
But, soon there breathed a mighty sigh,
not sense nor pretense made:
the path did not depend on he,
where on the street he played.
It raised his interest, it fanned his pyre
like a meadow’s-verdant plain—
it bonded strangely with his fear,
and echoed sweet refrain.
Swiftly, swiftly poets penned,
yet sailed softly too:
sweetly, sweetly words were heard—
from within them all it drew.
Oh! Muse conjoined! is this indeed
the streetlamp I do spy?
Is this the place? Is this the space?
Is this where poems fly?
We drifted o’er the site to see,
and we with sobs did pray—
O let us write, O God, delight,
or let us stay away!
The verses were as clear as glass,
so smoothly they were splayed!
and on the way the wordsmiths play,
and presented such with class.
The words shone bright, the rhyme no less,
that filled each empty page:
the metered verse seemed somewhat terse,
with emotions to assuage.
Their “lights” burned bright on silent nights,
when poetry was pondered,
full many styles, and poet wiles,
and thoughts to make one wonder.
A little distance from the road
where muted shadows fell:
he turned his eyes to darkened skies—
Oh, Christ! What saw he well!
Each poet offered wisdom’s words,
expressed in whispered prayer!
The voice of ev’ry woman; man,
rose into the evening air.
A seraph-band, at their command:
accompanied the song!
They stood in tribute to the band,
each one, a heartbeat; strong.
This seraph-band, each waved their hand,
but no words did they spake—
No voice; but oh! A sound did rise
in praise, for heaven’s sake.
But soon there came the flash of lights,
and a rumble in his ears;
the storm returned, the torrent churned,
and the angels disappeared.
The poets and the Laureate,
continued in the storm:
their works were words that comforted,
a blanket, safe and warm.
And then a third—he heard his voice:
It spake of future times!
He singeth in an awkward tone
that was the sound of mimes.
The telepathic tale he told
gave hint of future rhymes.
The Laureate accepted him,
despite his soundless voice.
His vocal cords for sure were dead!
He heeded every word ‘twas said,
he had no other choice.
He prostrates morning, noon and night—
with ear prest to the ground:
list’ning for inspired noises;
himself, without a sound.
The poets neared: they heard him talk,
‘Why, this is strange, we know!
A silent one can have great voice,
tell us Laureate, how thus so?’
“A mustard seed remains his faith —
and in it lies his muse!
your looks are blank, it’s him to thank
for igniting words you chose!
In silent thought, their own they wrought,
a lesson learned and used.
Brown hued the leaves that linger on
above the park bench brown;
when winter’s dream is heavy with snow,
and the words were reaped as once were sown,
the winds of future poets touch the ground.’
‘Laureate! it hath a friendly look—
(The poets bade with prayer)
we will be heard ‘—’ Write on, write on!’
said the Laureate with cheer.
The poets came close to hear the muse,
But he not spake nor stirred;
The poets came close, will he refuse?
Straight out a sound was heard.
Through the leaves it rumbled on,
now louder and pronounced:
It reached their ears, it brought out cheers;
the Laureate announced:
‘How stirred thy be by joyful sounds,
with heaven and earth in tune,
unlike one that hath been seven days mute.
Our hearts do all emotions bare;
But within this dream, myself I found
in ev’ry poet, a fond tribute.
Beneath the ground where hatchets lie,
the muse spins round and round;
and all were still, save for the trill
of life’s poetic sound.
He moved his lips—the Laureate,
and to a knee fell down,
the Laureate then raised his eyes,
and praised this soulful sound.
Into his soul he took them: the Poet’s
came to see the passion,
that lived within the Laureate,
with only poetry his mission.
‘Ha! ha!’ quoth he, ‘full plain to see,
my fault is in commission.’
And now, all up and down the street,
we stood on solid ground!
The Laureate amidst the rest,
a oneness there was found.
Forgive the deeds of one of words!
The Laureate’s head was bowed.
‘Say quick,’ quoth he ‘I bid thee say—
forgiven too, art thou?’
pearls of wisdom too, do bless,
Which prompted all to begin the tale;
And then it left to him, the rest.
For future’s answers lie within
the breast of ev’ry soul;
And till we see our misery,
we live as empty holes.
“Our verse will pass from hand to hand;
these powers we beseech;
power not to save the world,
but to hold the banner yet unfurled:
until ourselves we reach.
For in reflection each one will see
the pow’r to change within,
and when we be, the best we be,
our union will begin.”
An uproar loud burst from that crowd!
the Writing-Guests confer:
back in their garden, muse’s bloom
and poet songs concur;
to harken the little home they’ve made,
with feelings yet to stir!
O Writing-Guest! this soul hath been
alone on park bench brown:
so quiet ’twas, that God himself
did seem to hold our poem’s sound.
To walk together on this path,
and all together stay,
while each to his own Master bends,
the men and dames, and loving friends,
the youths and maidens gay!
The Laureate with heart held high
to thee, thou Writing-Guests!
When sayeth well, and writeth well
both man and beast art blest.
Who sayeth best, who writeth best
all things of love and mirth;
and in our hearts our passions burn,
for ev’ry soul on earth.”
The Laureate, whose heart is light,
whose spirit begets to soar,
is gone; and now the Writing-Guests
return to pose once more.
Away he went on mission’s quest,
and is from hearts not far:
all sadder, but much wiser souls
Poet Laureates all, we are.