One Day upon my Travel (Poem 1 of 2)
(Here’s the first of the two very Robert Frost inspired poems to which I referred in a previous post.)
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One day upon my travel o’er the hill and through the vale.
I came upon six travelers, each one with their own tale.
We seven walked together toward our town or job or home.
For, with bandits lurking everywhere, it is not safe to walk alone.
The first of these six came to me and told me not to fear.
He was a master swordsman without equal, without peer.
And as he told me thus, his hand slid swiftly to his belt.
I was shown his mighty sword from its blade down to its hilt.
He held it with such confidence I could tell he was well learned.
After a quick show of the sword to the sheath it was returned.
Then the warrior took some extra steps until he was ahead.
Saying, “If I weren’t going with you, you all would end up dead.”
The second man leaned close, saying in prideful arrogance,
“If bandits should attack, I fear the sword won’t see its chance.”
For he was a well skilled archer, seeking glory and renown,
Headed toward the castle to perform before the crown.
He led me to believe he was unrivaled in the skill,
And spoke of all his trophies from the creatures he had killed.
Tired of his endless boasting, I deliberately fell back,
Only to hear another speak of defense against attack.
This women a great musician with a voice of pleasant ring,
She said she would play her tula and gently start to sing.
“There will be no need for swords, arrows, or weapons of any kind.
I’ll play my tune and sing a song and they’ll quickly shut their eyes.”
She put me to a gentle rest, then woke me just as soon.
And I can honestly attest to her sleep-inducing tune.
I like this more than corpses on the road, I must confess,
For I’m not prone to violence. I find it ends in quite a mess.
Though I liked walking beside her, I did not relish the thought
Of being lulled to sleep on accident and then forgot.
Concerned for my own safety, I thought it the wise thing to do,
So I let her pass ahead of me to join the other two.
This fourth man wielded a walking staff and his hair had long been gray.
He told me he did not feel safe with three fools leading the way.
He spoke [in such intelligence that it made me feel quite low],
“Such men fall dead each day because they rely on sword or bow.
Oh and music! Pah! Such a frail thing never did one save.
I could kill them AND the brigands with one spell from my great stave.”
His disregard for life lead me to fall back yet again.
Where I found myself in the company of a stately gentleman.
This man walked leisurely on with no apparent fear of attack.
“The source of my ease”, he said, “is the weight of my money-sack.
One unnoticed arrow or one misparried shot
And any of these poor fellows will fall dead upon the rocks.
Ah, but not me. Oh no! If any bandit or rouge appears
I will simply render payment and continue forth unseared.”
This man was a great fool, for no rouge would leave him be.
Instead they’d simply kill him, and then take from him everything.
Since I have no use for fools [and even less for their company]
I withdrew myself again and left him alone with his money.
At the back of our little parade I found an able-bodied boy.
He had no tula, arrows, staff, wealth, or even sword.
He walked along quite merrily, whistling all the way.
When I inquired as to his happiness, this is all he’d say,
“Dear sir, I am now seventeen and have never worked an hour.
I’ve easily gotten along taking advantage of other’s powers.
Like these chaps we travel with, if we are attacked as they do say,
I will leave them all the fighting and then be on my way.”
I did not feel it wrong for this boy to survive on wit.
It seems to me as much a weapon as a tula, bow, or stick.
I found him increasingly clever, given his young age,
But the others did not care, and each became enraged.
The warrior threatened to cut him down and the archer to strike him dead.
But the sage suggested a different proposition for settling this debt,
“Given his able body and his lack of any load,
We shall have him bear our possessions for the remainder of the road.”
This idea went over well, as the long trip had made them heavy.
But to me this seemed excessively too cruel a discipline levied.
Feeling compassion for the boy I offered to share the weight.
Sighing a heavy breath, he asked that I no more than with him wait.
So as the others went on ahead, we stood there a while longer,
As the boy’s merry smile returned, he whistled all the stronger.
His merry little tune echoed throughout the forest trees,
And a voice came whistling back to the boy standing next to me.
He let out a bellowed laugh and pointed to those ahead.
And emerging from the forest came the bandits, whistle-led.
The swordsman reached for his blade and the ranger for his bow,
The player for her tula and the gentleman his gold.
But the sage stood still in wonder, knowing all that had been done.
He stared back at the boy who, without weapon, this battle won.
I learned a great many things as I continued on the path.
For the mind tends to think clearly when one is passed over by wrath.
So from here on I’ll show kindness to all I meet along the trail,
For anything can happen when traveling o’er the hill and through the vale…