How did we get here?
Why did we come here at all?
At least this is the lane
that leads up the hill to the hall.
Are we too old now
to be wandering minstrels?
But it is all we can do.
Remember when we sang
to the sparrows and no one knew?
Like a rain drop on a reed,
we are here and gone.
While we are here,
we play for your pleasure, everyone.
That is my new introduction.
As always we'll end,
after a few dance tunes,
with our bright benediction.
The lord of this hall puts good food
and mead on the table
for anyone who entertains him well, they say.
So let us go up there,
unsling our instruments, sing and play.
Was that just a wolf
or a boar we saw in the wood?
You do not know what you will meet
in strange lands like these,
sometimes you can come to no good.
Play a few notes on hurdy gurdy and flute,
while I tune up my lute.
Come now, unpack your horns,
viols, bells and drums.
Listen, an owl calls from that high tower
as nightfall comes.
Let us hope as we come from afar,
the lord and his company
have not heard our tales and lays before.
Now I knock at the door.
BALECLAW THE DRAGON
Why should a dragon be fearless
when they are so scarce?
Better to be wily and cautious,
especially when you have
enough gold in your purse.
With his tail coiled
in a serpentine S,
just how old was the worm
even he could not guess.
Deep near the roots of Dark Mountain,
in his cave he had no mind to be brave.
His hoard, once the treasure of kings,
ship burial cargo they took to the grave,
makes his rust red, orange eyes
with lust water and gleam,
the delight of his wakefulness,
the bliss of his dream.
Thought it fortunate that humans
now dismissed him as myth,
he chuckled and grinned,
as he took the air on a cliff.
Baleclaw the dragon his name.
Obscurity he finds preferable
to the intrusions of fame.
THE FIRST FLY
The first fly of the year.
It batted its wings,
flew from a corner,
out from a crack in the paintwork,
a slit in the window sill.
I sat very still, and watched it flit
about the air of my kitchen,
hit its head on a window pane.
Insects are forgotten in winter,
spring brings them back again.
It is late February fly,
I wanted to tell it.
You have woken too early,
fooled by bright sunshine.
The sun stays low in the sky,
gives no heat to my feet or my face,
and the frost has frozen my bin lid,
made hard my lawn,
traced white webs on the pavement,
but it is natural so that is fine.
Should have hibernated longer,
whatever flies do.
Insects have not been my study.
Where they are when they are not here,
I have not a clue.
Cold crumbs for the sparrows
lie on the roof of my shed.
In the bare back garden bush they chatter,
I wonder on what they have fed.
Sea gulls swoop in from the sea shore,
crows caw in the trees.
Spring seeds will sprout
when winter agrees.
In spring and summer we await the return
of the finch, swift and swallow,
not the wasp and the centipede,
the snail and the slug.
Apart from the bee and the butterfly,
insects are largely disliked,
dimissed as the bug,
especially by the farmer and gardener,
for on what they plant a flea may feed,
a white maggot may devour a seed.
It is nature, however, so what can you do?
Humans have been partly my study.
Where we are when we are not here,
I have not a clue.