David Lewis Paget
The Bride Of The Wind And Rain - Poem by David Lewis Paget
There was morning dew, and the sky was blue
When the stranger came to town,
Riding a painted wagon, pulled
By horses, black and brown,
He carried a wand of hickory,
Was clad in a purple cloak,
'The Master of Elementals'
Said the sign - 'of the Gypsy Folk.'
The people gathered to hear him speak
When he stopped in the village square,
'I hold the secrets of wind and rain,
Of summer clouds up there.
The gentle rain for your barley crop,
The breeze that flutters the leaves,
Or the menace of darkening thunderheads
As the lightning strikes at your eaves.'
The people laughed: 'He's a crazy loon, '
They said: 'We think you're a clown! '
They rocked his wagon and jeered at him
But the stranger stood his ground.
'You jeer at eternal mysteries,
And you fail to understand,
But I have the power to raze your crops
With a twitch of my willow wand.'
They turned his wagon upside-down
And laughed, and danced and sang,
'There's not been much to cheer us here
Since we ducked old Widow Strang.
Her spells could never save her
And your wand can do its worst,
So show us your 'Elementals'...'
Then he said - 'Your town is cursed! '
He raised the willow wand on high
And muttered seven words
That didn't make much sense to them,
(In a tongue they'd never heard) .
The rain fell out of a cloudless sky
Like a fine and gentle mist,
A gentle, soaking, water spray,
Then he said - 'Shall I persist? '
There'd been a drought, the people laughed,
And danced about in glee,
'We need the rain, you're a sad buffoon
With your vain idolatry.
So do your worst with your willow wand
Our crops will prosper now...'
'Your crops will nourish the barren ground, '
He said, 'I'll show you how! '
A wind arose in the barley fields,
The rain came pouring down,
The corn, it swayed in the gusts, the trees
Were bent toward the ground,
The sky was blackened with thunderheads,
The rain, it turned to hail,
The crowd began to scatter, and fled
As the women began to wail.
The thunderheads were dark and dense,
They turned the light to gloom,
The hailstones rattled on every roof
In the dark of the afternoon,
Then lightning flashed, lit up the sky
As the stranger paced the town,
His scowl so unforgiving and grim as
The lightning struck the ground.
A wedding party had sheltered in
The chancel of the church,
They dared not hold the service since
The thunder cloud had burst.
The noise drowned out the vicar's voice,
The organ pipes had wailed,
Playing the devil's music to
The rattling of the hail.
The stranger strode on up the aisle,
The people stared him down,
He waved his wand, the floor had split
As an earthquake shook the ground,
'How much to stop this craziness? '
A man stood up and said,
'You've made your point, take what you want! '
The stranger shook his head.
'Not all of your gold will buy me off,
You jeered and laughed at me,
Your town will sink in the primal mud
And be lost in antiquity,
But there is one thing I'd take right now
To save my wounded pride,
I would take just one of your number here...'
Then he pointed to the bride.
The bride had cowered behind the groom
As lightning hit the spire,
The roofing lead came crashing down
On the altar, and the choir,
A floodtide surged in the open door
And the wedding party cried:
'For God's sake, give him the woman then,
Give him the blushing bride! '
The groom was pushed aside and held,
The bride passed hand to hand,
'It's better we let you take her
If it will save our troubled land! '
'I'll only be taking her maidenhead,
Then you can have her back,
And live with the scorn and shame of her
Dishonoured, like you, in fact! '
He took the bride through the chancel door
And they disappeared in the rain,
Somebody said they heard her scream
And the bridegroom reeled in pain,
He swore revenge on the lot of them,
Ran cursing out of the church,
To look for his bride, defiled, he said,
He began his demented search.
There was morning dew, and the sky was blue
When she marched back into town,
Her dress was ragged and torn by then,
Blood-stained, and she wore a frown.
She carried a long white willow wand
As she marched to the village square,
And screamed; 'You'd better come out and pray! '
There was no forgiveness there!
The townsfolk hid in their flooded homes
As she wandered every lane,
There was never a sight of the stranger there
In the torrents of hail and rain,
She waved for the thunderheads to come
And she brought the lightning down,
But the groom was locked in a crazy room
In a distant part of town.
Now the ruined bride still walks the streets
In a torn and faded dress,
More like the rags of the hand-me-downs
Than a hint of future bliss,
The crops have drowned in the sodden fields
And the houses filled with mud,
As she screams like an elemental witch
For the loss of her virgin blood.
18 April 2010
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