David Lewis Paget
The Valley Of Maggie Grey - Poem by David Lewis Paget
I was born and bred in a valley,
It was all that I ever knew,
The cows grazed out in the pasture and
The cottages were few.
I grew surrounded by simple folk
Who toiled, and ate their fill,
They had one rule that they never broke,
‘We don’t go over the hill! ’
They said, ‘Be happy with what you’ve got,
A pleasant country life,
One of the girls you play with here
Will grow to be your wife,
We have no use for the world out there
With its thrills, and shrill alarms,
We’re all content with the life we’ve spent
On our peaceful valley farms.’
The school was simply a single room,
We had no need for more,
At best, the students were twenty two,
At least, they numbered four,
They didn’t study so very hard
For the life they lived outside,
To the best of my recollection there,
Nobody ever died.
The cemetery hadn’t been in use
Since eighteen eighty-nine,
We had no use for a doctor there
For our health was always fine.
It always seemed like a mystery
But one that was never told,
Just why in our recent history
Did no-one ever grow old?
They told me when I was twenty-one
The story of Maggie Grey,
Her headstone stood in the cemetery,
The last one from her day,
She’d gone as a girl to the mountain top
Picked flowers for a bride,
But when she staggered on down again,
Something had changed, inside.
She said she’d eaten a purple fruit
From a bush that fateful day,
Whatever it was, we didn’t know
But it changed her DNA,
Of all the children she bore from then
They all were still alive,
Seven were born to her husband Ben,
And then another five.
They intermarried to keep their blood
As pure as it was fine,
And everyone in the valley now
Was descended from her line,
The rest of the folk had died and gone
As it was, before her day,
And the very last to be buried there
Was poor old Maggie Grey.
They said that we never could leave there
Just in case our blood would spill,
Or mix with the common herd out there
For the mix would make us ill,
They said we lived in a paradise
But could never make it known,
The moment the world had heard of us
They wouldn’t leave us alone.
My girlfriend, Catherine Mundy was
Rebellious from the start,
She said she wanted to travel, that
To stay would break her heart.
I followed her on a moonlit night
Where she went, to work her will,
And called out, ‘Catherine, please come back,
We don’t go over the hill! ’
She stared at me from the mountain top,
Plunged down the other side,
I chased her then and I caught her, said:
‘Come back, and be my bride! ’
‘I have to go or I’ll never know
All the things in the world out there,
But when I’m done, I’ll come on back
To find if you really care.’
She disappeared in the darkness, and
I wandered sadly home,
They sent a party to search for her
But then came back, alone.
‘She’s down in that village of miners,
We just hope that she holds her tongue,
If she tells them the story of Maggie Grey,
The valley will be undone! ’
A year went by and the soldiers came
And they locked us in our farms,
They brought a team of physicians who
Set up in one of the barns,
They tested us and injected us,
Took blood on alternate days,
They wouldn’t say what they expected,
But they checked us with x-rays.
Catherine came back home as well,
She was cuffed to an army jeep,
I asked her what she had told them, it
Was then she began to weep.
A farmer died in the early Spring
And his wife went to her grave,
The first ones buried in paradise,
In a valley too late to save!
18 September 2013
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