David Lewis Paget
The Grail - Poem by David Lewis Paget
In the village Bellastrino
On the craggy Tuscan hills,
Lies an old abandoned Abbey
And the Church of San Michele,
Though the village was abandoned
There are two who would not go,
The Abbot, Father Grandier,
The Priest, Don Angelo.
The Abbey on the mountain top,
The Church down in the dell,
They'd fought, these two, for twenty years
Consigning each to Hell!
For in the Church of San Michele
Before the village failed,
Down in the crypt, beneath the floor
They'd found the Holy Grail.
A bowl, fine wrought in pale green glass,
There's no room for debate,
The Templar Knights had left it in
They'd always said they would return,
In fact, they never did,
They went to challenge Saladin
And died, as they had lived!
‘It's mine, ' said Father Grandier,
‘Not so, ' said Angelo,
‘I found it and I'm keeping it,
Here, in the Church below.'
‘It should be in the Abbey, '
Father Grandier opined,
‘Its glory on the mountain top…'
‘Not so! The Grail is mine! '
For years the two had tussled
Had approached the Holy See,
The Pope thought it ridiculous
And said: ‘Don't bother me!
We have two dozen of those things,
A heap of rusty nails,
All from the Cross at Calvary
But these are peasant tales.'
A Cardinal then came to call
And tried to sort them out,
Well practiced in diplomacy
He said: ‘No need to shout!
You have a choir each, ' he said
‘Who visit in the spring,
So hold a competition here,
What better way, than sing? '
‘The better choir shall win the Grail
And keep it for a year,
Up in the Abbey's mountain top,
Or down here, if you dare.
Then sing for it each passing year,
Three judges, understood?
If one should win it three years straight
They keep the Grail for good! '
With many muttered mumblings
And hellfire in their eyes,
The Abbot and the priest said yes,
Dissembled with their lies,
They each set out to cheat their way
To keep that Holy Grail,
The Abbot got to pick each judge
He thought he couldn't fail!
The Abbey won the first two years
And held the Grail on high,
While poor Don Angelo despaired,
The time was coming nigh;
They had to sing for it once more,
He knew that if he failed,
The Abbot would, victorious,
Not let him keep the Grail.
Don Angelo went down to Rome
And brought a tenor back,
His voice like rich red Tuscan wine
To join his choir's attack,
They sang their hearts out on the day
But saw the judges feign,
And shake their heads, Don Angelo
Had nothing left to gain.
The judge stood up to name the prize,
The Abbot had his way,
The tenor stood and sang a note
Not heard since Jesu's day,
He held it long, unwavering
The Grail began to ring,
A long high-pitched reverberance,
The Grail began to sing.
A minute there, without a breath
The tenor held his tone,
And Grandier stood up, alarmed,
Let out a fervid moan,
The Grail sang on, then shattered
Fell in pieces to the floor,
The judge stood up and shook his head,
Then said - ‘The sing's a draw! '
The Abbey holds the base of it,
Up on the mountain top,
All glued together, like some vase
Bought in the Red Cross Shop.
While down there in the little Church
On a thousand Euro tips,
They're coining them a fortune with
The rim that touched his lips!
1 September 2012
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