Author's Note

One early evening I sat down with an urge to write, and in a white heat kept writing until it was complete. Then in an editing mode I read it through, saw nothing to change, and it was done. I wonder how many who are styled professors of poetry at universities could have done that or those deemed poets who write prose and chop it up into the shape of a poem. I bow to no one since about 1900AD except T.S. Eliot (who invited me to a one on one lunch when he visited the Univ. of Chicago where I had a Senior Research Fellowship). He told me he couldn’t write in the US either so went to England; soon afterwards I left for Canada where I’ve been for many years. The other exception would be Dylan Thomas, who wrote these 9 words: “into her lying down head his enemies entered bed”. If you are interested, more of my poems can be found in the last 156 pages of my book, "Leftovers".
Here’s what I wrote:

BALLAD FOR THE QUEST OF THE GREEN DRAGON

Among the green willows
where songs were born
there stole a blythe maiden
with heart forsworn.
So winsome and pretty
her singing so light,
passing strangers that spied her
closer rode for delight
and she, nothing wanting
would curtsy and say,
'good sire an it please you
return by this way';
and they, to a man
so well flattered would smile
say, "the long road enslaves me
for many a mile
never fear, I`ll return,
count the hours in each day
`til the road winds me back
to the willowtree way."
So subdued by her spell
rich or poor they all fell
young or old they would dwell
by the maid among the green willows.

Now she, did they know,
but never they did
was a countryside Circe
whose pity had fled.
Her admirers were noble
and worthy and skilled
but their bodies she took
and their souls she killed
for men who were strong she dallied along
and weaken-ed all with her song
did the maid among the green willows.

It chanced that one day
a sweet boyish squire
who fell into her net
at her looks did perspire
and she found her heart
and the truth did him tell,
"young man we must part
never here, your heart dwell
for I, an enchantress,
only trick you to say
marry me, and your soul
I have stolen away.
Never more could you have
a body at ease
for each one who passes
in turn I must please
and I am so suited through many long years
to living enchanted
there are no more tears
and you are so young,
and lost in your way
you must go at this instant
and nothing must say
for I would not enchant you
but wish I were free
and not chained to the willows
but fastened to thee."
So she turned and she cried
and the faint daylight died
and the squire left the side
of the maid among the green willows.

Then the squire on his mount
rose up in his seat
and rock like his front
and his hands they did sweat
he seized the great sword
that was his sire`s gift
and turned on the maid
and her neck he cleft.

The leaves all fell
with a shrivelling sound
and covered her form
on the red stain-ed ground.
And in the air
rose a wild song
and the darkness fell
and the rain came on.
The young squire shook
at what might be
at how the sword
his enemy
had killed the maid
that he had loved
and so he wedged it
in a tree
and ran on it
for brave was he
and dying sobbed
most piteously.

Yet was it right
the way he chose;
now travellers pass
upon the road
and none to call them
from their way.
Still to this day
they shake their heads that pass
and say
"the maid lies with her true love at the last
Among the green green willows."

 

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