The Goatherd & The Wild Goats

No cloak, no fleece upon that day sufficed;
The penetrating wind through every coat
Blew rain straight to the skin, as cold as ice.
It fiercely flogged a goatherd and his goats
Exposed upon the open mountain side.
But, oh! their joy to see a deep, dark gash
Cleft in the rock— “Come on!” the goatherd cried
“It’s snug and dry — I’ll feed you oats and mash
In comfort while it rains.” The soaking goats
Pursued their master through the cloven stone,
And huddled, dripping, eager for the oats,
But soon they sensed that they were not alone.
A herd of wild goats had come before
To shelter in the cave from that same rain,
And when the goatherd saw these many more
He made a different plan about his grain.
With hopes his flock to double on that day
He called to them “Fresh Oats! All you can eat!”
But for his faithful flock a stalk of hay
As sustenance for each he reckoned meet.
Yet when the sheets of rain had ceased to fall,
The stranger goats all scampered  from the cave;
“You false ingrates!” the outraged goatherd called
Is this your thanks for all the food I gave?”
“Why should we join your flock?” the goats then bleated,
“We’ve seen quite clearly how we would be treated.”


Picture of a Dusty Mountain Road

To step into that picture-tile
On gramangrampa’s fire-place
And walk along a dusty mile
(Upon the path my hand would trace,
When I was young and of it’s height,)
And see what lay beyond that bend
Which turned away, out of my sight,
And not to find a final end,
In summer day without a night,
Of Spanish-Californian light,
This was my dream of deep delight.


Who Hides the Flavour in an Orange Slice?

Who hides the flavour in an orange slice?

Not the growers cooperative —
Planning and managing the crop day by day,
Not the truckers —
Bringing the produce from the groves far away,
Not the marketing men —
Working to tell us what folks like today,

And certainly not me.

But I take one from a basket full,
Peel off the fiery coat and taste the fiery core,
And discover a little universe, never touched before
In the tiniest vesicle.


Did I Ever Really Love You?

Did I ever really love you?
Or was it just my quest for Beauty,
To be near that which is lovely,
Like a sea-wave or a symphony,
And to feel it reaching back to me?

Did I ever really love you?
Or was Wisdom my delight,
And her candle burned most bright
When I sat within your sight,
So I stayed and loved her light?

Did I ever really love you?
Or was my bliss in Selflessness,
That last-mite-giving cheerfulness,
The kneeling, praying, willingness
To serve for other’s happiness?

Wise and lovely, selfless  one,
Like an ember-glowing poppy
Set a-fire by the sun,
Virtue’s lovers every one,
In your presence shall be happy.



You can read some of my thoughts behind this poem in my comment in the comment  section.





This poem is based on part of a story from old Norway. I found the story in Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla or Chronicles of the Kings of Norway in the Saga of Halfdan the Black. .

The metre of the is very particular and I’m not sure how well the poem comes off  if not read with the right rhythm. The middle two lines of each stanza are straightforward, but in lines one and four after the first 3 or 4 syllables, the last six syllables are at a little brisker tempo. It’s close to the rhythm of the first line of the song from Tangled “I See the Light” (here in French, cause it’s prettier in French.) In musical notation the rhythm of the first line of this poem would be quarter, quarter, half, eighth, eighth, eighth, eighth, quarter, quarter. DUM-dum  DUUM, deedle-eedle dum dum

The 4th line is always DUM-dum  DUM-dum, deedle-eedle dum dum, whereas the 1st alternates between that and DUM-dum DUUM, deedle-eedle dum dum, as already described. The final e’s in names such as Ringerike, Hake, and Hvasse, are pronounced.

If you are still interested in this little poem be warned, it’s a dark and nasty small tableau from old Norway.

Sigurd Hjort, King in Ringerike,
Matchless man in strength and size
Matchless son of Helgi Hvasse,
And of Aslaug (child of Sigurd snake-eyes)

Loved the wild and desolate dark woodland
Where alone he often rode
Where the bear and red-toothed wolf ran
From his eager, eagle-feathered arrows.

Thorny, child of Klakharald of Jutland,
Ragnhild to Sigurd bore
Ragnhild in all the northland
Was most fair and fetching, so the world swore.

All alone the King of Ringerike
Rode one day far through the woods
Rode to where the fearsome Hake,
Brave berserk, with thirty of his men stood

In a clearing waiting, close to Hadeland,
Armed with black steel, keen and grim
Armed to kill the hunter king and
With fresh steeds in hand if they must hunt him.

Sigurd Hjort, drawing forth his yew-bow,
Sent six death-shafts through the air
Sent six singing iron arrows
And six warriors tumbled down in death there.

All around the King of Ringerike,
Came those men with sword and shield
Came with shouting, led by Hake
While above the waiting woodland kite wheeled.

Sun was setting o’er the son of Hvasse;
Sigurd’s sword did loudly ring,
Sigurd struck a hand off Hake,
Yet he fell before him in the clearing.

“Men, of Hadeland, mount up on your horses!
To Hjort’s house!” fierce Hake roared.
To the house he led his forces
Even as hot blood from out his wounds poured.

All was dark, there in Ringerike,
In dead Sigurd’s lonely house;
In her dreams fair Sigurd’s daughter
Saw her father standing by the windows.

Ragnhild, waking from the nightmare
Heard the voice of Hake then,
Heard the horses, saw the torch-glare
Of berserker Hadelander horsemen.

As the land is licked up by the sea-waves,
Breaking, breaking on the shore,
Breaking through the door the axe-thieves,
Seized bright silver — stole dead Sigurd’s gold-store.

But the brightest gem in Ringerike
Was not set in brooch or ring,
‘Twas the treasure one-hand Hake
Rode that night to Ringerike seeking.

Ragnhild, matchless maid of Norway
Hake sought and seized that night,
Hake bore her through the doorway
Bore her home in bloody arms by star-light.





First Lesson in Poetry

Oh, ye young gallant writers all
Come listen unto me
And I will teach the secret skill
Of writing poetry.

To make it plain I chose this theme,
To show the craft most clearly,
That dish men love most dearly.

Words correspond to cream you see,
But everybody knows
That words alone aren’t poetry,
That’s what is known as prose.

So cream alone is not ice cream
Ice gives it form and structure
In poetry the ice ‘twould seem
Is patterned pulse, or metre.

But is that all that’s requisite
To truly make the treat?
In strict sense yes –but what is it
Without some added sweet?

Some added sweetness makes you lick
Ice cream with greater pleasure,
In verse the kick that makes words stick
Is rhyme — poetry’s sugar.

And there are still more ways than this
To give your ice cream flavour,
And there is more that I can list
Of tricks good poets favour.

Alliteration and assonance
Work wonders when well wielded;
The first is done with consonants,
For the other vowels are needed.

Like chopped up chunks of chocolate
Churned right into the mixture
Some poets like a lot of it
To give the text more texture.

And let there be a fine excess
Of sprinkles and of toppings,
In lines that touch of loveliness
No half-way words should stop things.

And as the tastiest flavours are
The ones containing berries,
So verse replete with metaphor
The greatest beauty carries.

I’d say this poem in metaphor
The heights of poesie reaches,
But also does what poems are for
Delights provokes and teaches.

So if toward creativity
Your heart is ever yearning,
Apply my words in poetry
Or  your next ice-cream churning.

Farm boys 1941 ice cream