David Lewis Paget
The Feather Quill - Poem by David Lewis Paget
I wish that we'd never found it now,
I wish that we'd stayed away,
Avoided the twisted mansion that
Was fashioned in Cromwell's day,
But we were just a couple of lads
Out there, and having fun,
We wouldn't have thought to change the world,
Nor hurt just anyone.
The place sat deep in a bluebell wood
Surrounded by a marsh,
I said, ‘Should we? ' and he said we should,
My friend was a little harsh,
We waded up to our knees out there
Until we reached the porch,
The rooms within were as dark as sin
Till Joe took out his torch.
The house had once been a splendid place
Though the floors were deep in mud,
Of fetes and balls there was still a trace
Then the fields submerged in flood,
The house sank on its foundations then
No doubt, to cries and tears,
Its noble crew had deserted it
For all of two hundred years.
I raced my friend to the stairway that
Led up from the central hall,
Half of the rail had fallen away,
Was resting against the wall,
When up above in a tiny room
Stood a bureau, finely made,
Inlaid with delicate parquetry
That lay concealed in the shade.
But over the lintel of the door
Was the carving of a man,
His wings spread wide, with the sharpest claw,
He was from some evil clan,
His teeth protruded over his lip
And his eyes were fierce and black,
I caught at Joe and he almost tripped
But he shrugged, and turned his back.
And on the dust of the bureau lay
A long, fine feather quill,
I knew I shouldn't disturb it there
But I thought, ‘I can, I will! '
And beside the quill was a manuscript
In an old and faded hand,
Calling for the death of a king
That I couldn't understand.
I knew, I'd read in my history books
That a cruel, evil one,
A man called Oliver Cromwell had
Caused pain for everyone,
He'd raised a citizens' army and
Had thought to kill the king,
But fell to the King's Own Cavaliers,
Was beheaded in the spring.
I knew this, yet I still signed my name
With that awesome feather quill,
It seemed to have me so hypnotised
That I quite had lost my will,
So then when a roll of thunder shook
The house right through to the floor,
The man in black that was carved, alack,
Came bursting in through the door.
He snatched at the parchment manuscript
And let out a howl of glee,
Then screamed, ‘I've waited forever just
To play with your history.'
I know that you think the civil war
Took the head of a rightful King,
But how could I know the power of a quill
That could upturn everything?
12 January 2016
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