Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Ballad of Fardelbard

The women loved him but he loved the sea,
its roaring swell and pallid creatures, down
where only words could reach beyond the eye,
into the fields and houses of the town.

To hear the sea in a shell he did not
need to listen nor reach a hand to ear,
but sift the shifting sounds of shining word
sands on wild beaches that he held so dear.

The child became a father to the bard:
robbed of his native tongue the brilliant son
by elocution rose to prominence,
blinding the father with his rising sun.

By limelight the grape became his poison,
and old Augustus' moll his wayward muse,
besotted by the wailing siren's call
his marriage or his sullen art would lose.

The ghosts of poverty pursued his lust,
delivering the fruits of family,
bloating the features of a pretty boy;
become father pig to Welsh menagerie.

But still the golden youth roamed free among
the orchards and the fields, where bellfried owls
like wise Athene's fowls bore him aloft,
rising triumphant by force of vowels.

Weaving a tapestry of glowing words,
a world transmogrified by Druid's spell
floated on airwaves to war weary homes
where each poem resounded like a bell.

Ambition and his legend as a sot
fed  the romantic spirit of the bard,
excessive days of wine and roses led
to love's ruin and verses by the yard.

Now Silenus was his drunken tutor,
the sodden cavalcade became a farce,
and when spurned by pregnant Ariadne
the threadbare cloth of art became more sparse.

Lured by the hint of fame from overseas
the bon viveur made plans to boost his name,
and leave the wet and windy shores of Wales
to seek his fortune in the lecture game.

The brightest star in Cymru's Constellation
Crossed the rough Atlantic to Idlewilde,
where to the consternation of his hosts,
became a stellar pain and problem child.

The winds of death unhinged the family door:
his purblind father became sick and died,
unleashing a poetic storm of woe
that ne'er abated with the ebbing tide.

Deaths dominion entered into his soul,
for a god denied was his salvation,
and with the tolling of this final bell,
the downward slide fed his inspiration.

A growing family, snug by the sea,
hid discontent and longing to be free.
The dollars came in bundles for his toil
but soon were spent on droll profligacy.

His sonorous and mesmerising voice,
booming through pendulous, booze moistened lips,
thrilled the Yanks and paid for his frequent jaunts
but left his family to their fish and chips.

His dissolution became near complete,
but even long bouts of poetic drought
could not douse his Welsh promethean fire:
his still prolific verse came pouring out.

The triumphant finale came in New York,
where author, actor and drunk pyknic clown
created the mad world Under Milk Wood,
the final drama for his Bardic crown.

His downfall was not long coming after,
despite drunken parties and the laughter,
mixed with regrets and pleas for forgiveness
the ruined body was ripe for slaughter.

Spurned by his wife, his bloated body lay,
filled to the brim with whiskey and decay.
Death's guise was Dr Reitell with his drugs,
who stopped his pain but sent him on his way.

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