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I am a great admirer of English poetry from the time of Chaucer up until the middle of the twentieth century when it appeared to lose its way. I love all aspects of this planet but are sometimes sad when I think of what we are doing to it.

Monday 8 August 2022

The Pool of Avarice


A storm-swept night on the bleak hillside,

The moon hides her face under tumbling clouds.

Slowly he walks through curtains of rain,

despair holds a heart once full of pride.

On through cold wind, on through cold rain,

that lash his face with whips of ice.

Still no sight of the grand old house

where dwell his kin who’ll end his pain.

He thinks on the face of his sobbing wife

who weeps for children who cry in the night.

He remembers their words as they beg for food,

eyes wide and wet as they cling to life.

Not far to go in this wild, angry night!

Just beyond the ridge, just past the wood

whose leafless branches thrash blind in the dark

except when pale beams of the moon’s pallid light

gleam weakly on stumps of twisted, dead trees.

And then he espies it, lit by the lightning,

huge and ornate, rising up squat like a toad.

A place of sweet wine, fat meats, laughter and ease.

They will help him, for blood calls to blood!

A knock on the door and succour will come!

The door opens wide and rich smells of excess

waft temptingly over his grime and his mud.

He speaks of his young ones, his sweet steadfast mate,

begs to his kindred for some crumbs from their store:

a crust, or a ham, a rabbit, a hen,

some hope, some help to turn back their fate.

But there is no invite, no gifts from their store.

Instead, there is laughter and cruelty and scorn

and a finger points mockingly into the night.

There is no salvation, just the slam of a door.

Tears streak the mud from his woebegone eyes

as he turns back to darkness, to storm and to night, 

back to the young ones, back to his wife

with nothing to give them to quiet their cries.

Back up the ridge with footsteps of lead,

he trudges, his belly burning with need.

What can he say to those who love him,

to those he watches as they beg to be fed?

Then there is thunder, though there is no light!

He turns to see the house of his kin shudder

and fall, fall into ruin, stone striking stone,

down into darkness where there only is night.

Then with a rush comes a thundering flood

covering the stones with a cold, turbid cloak,

hiding forever the dread house of his kin,

hiding their screams, their prayers, their blood.

Now only a pool shows where the house fell,

a pool dark and dismal where no bird can sing.

No more will those people laugh, mock and jest

at they who must live lives trapped helpless in Hell.

And our traveller? What was his fate?

What of his children and strong, faithful wife?

There were others who saw them, saw their sad plight

and came with kind offerings – and it was not too late.

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