The Bard

There aren’t many things I know. In fact, there is only one thing I know. I am a Bard, a curious calling, but one which I came to early. I tell stories, I rhyme rhymes, I wish stories into existence, I remember tales that so many have forgotten, or would like to forget.

I reach into the air and they are there, just waiting to be told. I am not a Shaman, only a Bard. I sit by the fire, my voice rising and falling with the story others want to hear, a story that falls from my lips with words, precious words, my words, words of power and despair, hope and adventure and laughter, of times when men have laughed so hard they split a gut.

What shall I tell these kings, these warriors who sit by the fire and wait upon the Bard? Perhaps I shall tell of Queen Maeve in the West. She went to war over a cow and it wasn’t much of a cow either. Cuchulain—the Cuke we called him, great warrior that he was—the Cuke had the cow and pride would not let him surrender it….so he and Maeve went at it and had themselves a war.

Shall I tell of Krishna, the little blue boy of the Hindi who had all the women eating out of his hands? Now that sounds like a job I would enjoy.

Maybe the story of how pissed off Hera was because Zeus went out chasing the girls again. Or the tale of the dragon who farted so much he forced all the people to evacuate the land. If they’d only had a virgin. Virgins made good snacks for dragons. It became the custom for the king to devirginalize all the virgins in the land. Shall I tell the story of the man who was obsessed to the point of madness with the Great White Whale enough to chase that leviathan to the ends of the earth?

There’s the story of Dick Whittington. That one I like a lot but nobody else seems to know. It’s not even on Billboard’s Top Forty Fairy Tales Chart. So what story shall I tell to those fellows, sitting around the campfire?

How about this one.

Ships. The Trojans looked out to sea and they saw ships. Ten thousand ships. The great kings of the Greeks and the minor kings, the great warriors, sons of gods and the goddesses and sons of mortal men. They were coming. They were coming for the city, for the beloved Ilium, Troy to the Greeks.

All because Paris had to go and ‘nap a Greek queen from the king of Sparta. Like Priam’s youngest couldn’t have any lady he wanted. All the Trojan women were doing moon pies over him. No, he had to go messin’ where he shouldn’t be messin’. Now those Greek boots were going to be walkin’ all over Troy.

Hector, the great Hector, called for his father Priam, the king. He came to the battlements and joined Hector and saw the great ships of the Greeks. He almost despaired. But he did not, for he stood by his greatly skilled son, Hector, and said, “Let the Greeks bring it on.” He knew his city was safe. None could penetrate the great walls of his city, Ilium.

“Prepare the city,” Priam said to Hector, then went to the Temple of Poseidon, the Sea God, the Horse God, the Patron of Priam’s City and the Patron of its citizens. To despair would offend Poseidon.

The gates opened. The peasant-farmers from the countryside rushed through the thick gates and into the city. On the horizon and behind the city a legion of Amazons, those female warriors who could give a warrior a run for his money, came looking to fight for Troy. They were led by Penthesilea. She wanted to make amends for killing her sister.

Soon there was a council, Priam’s Council, in the city with the kings of all Ilium’s allies. They debated the fate of the city, whether they would surrender the well-stacked Helen, Menalaus’ beautiful blonde-haired wife. Paris refused to surrender his mistress. Instead he offered himself for exile. Banished from his father’s kingdom forever for the sake of a city, always a pilgrim, always longing to return to his father but he would never return. If the Council decided so, as the city prepared.

In the distance there were sounds, sounds of war. The Greeks were coming! The Greeks were coming! The Greeks were coming!

Advertisements

Before the walls

The old man Priam came to the tent of Achilles
to plea for the body of his son, the old man came
for Hector slain before the walls where Patroclus fell
before the walls, before the walls of the city
where ten thousand Greeks were cut down,
and ten thousand Trojans more.

Priam mourned and Achilles too, they cried for all
the dead that night, these sons of Mars grieved the deaths.
They spoke of heroes, of horses and the sea.
“I was a child once,” the king said, “the city my home.”
“I was a boy too on an island a distance away.”
“I was a rider of horses.” “I a runner of races,” Achilles

unburdened his heart. “Then I took up the spear.”
“And I the shield.” “King, you make a good shield.”
“You are a great spear. Without you, the Greeks would be gone.”
“Why did my cousin die?” “Why did the gods steal my son away?”
“You are a king and I but a man, yet we grieve the same/”
“This is why the gods gave us tears,” the old man said.

And what did the Warrior say? “Tears are not enough.
The grief that I fear will never fall away.” “Nor mine.”
The old man carried his son home to the Funeral Games
before the walls that were once the city of Troy,
home to Helen and Paris, Andromache and once Hector,
the first-born of Hecuba and Priam inside the walls

of Troy.