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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
"The Cuckoo's Song" fully funded!
Thanks to the extra people who voted, the tie has been broken, in favor of publishing the rest of "The Cuckoo's Song." Another donation also went into the general fund, so you folks currently have $11 to portion out to other poetry. A subsequent poll will cover that.

Here is the complete text of "The Cuckoo's Song" for your entertainment. This is lyrical poetry in the tradition of many ballads about romances between faery and mortal. This poem came out of the September 8, 2009 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from marina_bonomi and sponsored by marina_bonomi, dormouse_in_tea, and janetmiles plus several votes from the audience to cover the last verses out of the general fund. Thank you all for your continued support! I'm glad you're enjoying these verse-by-verse epics.


The Cuckoo’s Song


A young lord went riding through hills rolling green,
As lovely a land as he ever had seen.
Then softly a song touched his ears and his heart,
More comely than any of his minstrels’ art.

      What song is that song in the meadow I hear,
      That’s ringing out boldly, so sweet and so clear?
      I must find the singer and rest my own eyes
      Upon the fair source of this wonderful prize!

A maiden danced there with her hips all a-sway
Beneath a green gown that proclaimed her as fey.
The points on her ears were as sharp as a sword
And lightly she bowed to the mesmerized lord.

      O suitor, O suitor, what’s this that I hear?
      You want a good wife for the span of a year?
      Last night as I walked from our hill to the down,
      I heard it three times – it’s the talk of the town.

The young lord was halted and pulled from his course
And, dazed, he dismounted and strode from his horse,
‘Til square in the space of her dancing he stood
Between the high hills and the low river-wood.

      Your song is the song in the meadow I hear,
      That fetched me here boldly, so sweet and so clear.
      Fair maiden, it’s true that I seek for a wife,
      Yet I have no wish to be tied down for life.

Long feathers she wore in her hair, brownish-grey,
And sweet was her voice as the dawn of the day.
Then gently she took the young lord by the hand
And laid him upon the soft bed of the land.

      O suitor, O suitor, it’s this you must hear:
      I’ll be your good wife for the span of a year,
      And you must swear likewise to raise as your own
      What child I bear for you, after I’m flown.

His head was so muddled, he scarcely could speak –
Her hands and her lips make him feel strangely weak –
But gamely he swore he would do as she bade
And raise up the child of his faery maid.

      Your song is the song in the meadow I hear,
      That fetched me here boldly, so sweet and so clear.
      We’ll get a priest later to do what is right,
      But now let us love in this warm summer light.

For three months they lived as most newlyweds do,
And hopped into bed soon as each day was through.
Then early one evening she turned him away,
And when he reproached her, she softly did say:

      O husband, O husband, it’s this you must hear:
      For I am with child in fall of the year.
      Go fetch me some eggs and some beef and some ham
      For my belly swells and it’s hungry I am!

The young lord ran off to go fetch what she craved
And all those nine months, how he worked and he slaved
To bring his dear wife what she asked for each time –
Rare spices, and rich meats, and fruits in their prime.

      Your song is the song of our family I hear,
      And gladly I answer, so sweet and so clear.
      Good wife, here’s the salt and the sausage and cheese;
      I hope you’ll stay full … for five minutes, dear … please?

She ate her lord out of his house and his home
Until through the cold, empty pantries he’d roam.
Then one day she summoned him back to her side
And told him to saddle his mare and ride.

      O husband, O husband, it’s this you must hear:
      Your child is coming, it’s that time of year!
      Go down to the village for their midwife now –
      And while you’re out, bring back a goat and a cow.

The young lord rode down to the village in haste
And brought back the midwife with no time to waste.
He fretted and worried; he paced ‘round the room
Until a new cry pierced the grey morning’s gloom.

      What sound is that sound in the bedroom I hear,
      That’s ringing out boldly, so sweet and so clear?
      Good wife, are you finished, and may I come in
      To look at the baby and greet my new kin?

The new mother lay bundled up in the bed
And there in her arms lay an infant all red
With ten tiny fingers, and toes, and the rest,
Her little pink mouth fastened tight on a breast.

      O husband, O husband, it’s this you must hear:
      Fetch goat milk and cow milk; you’ll need them all year.
      Your daughter is hungry – she’s drained me near dry –
      So hurry up, dear, or she’s going to cry.

The young lord brought buckets of milk on a yoke
And milked and hauled ‘til his poor back nearly broke,
But he loved his wife and his daughter so well
That he’d bite his tongue off before he would tell.

      What sound is that sound in the bedroom I hear,
      That’s ringing out boldly, so sweet and so clear?
      The dead could be wakened by such a great din –
      Dear gods, have some mercy, she’s hungry again!

A year and a day had passed by since they met;
The faery wife left with her cheeks barely wet.
She kissed her wee daughter and husband goodbye
And back to her hill she went, nary a sigh.

      O husband, O husband, what sobs do I hear?
      I told you I’d be your wife only a year.
      Now let me inform you – that song you first heard?
      It was the sweet song of the bold cuckoo bird!

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Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

5 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
siege From: siege Date: October 16th, 2009 04:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm thinking of donating to release the poem you sent me...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 16th, 2009 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)

*grin*

That would be most welcome, if your budget can afford it.
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: October 16th, 2009 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am very glad I got outvoted!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 16th, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

I'm glad you're pleased with this piece, after all.

Sometimes the poetry fishbowls are like shaking presents under a holiday tree. You can get a good idea what's in there, but then again, you might be totally surprised.
miintikwa From: miintikwa Date: October 16th, 2009 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that is awesome!
5 comments or Leave a comment