Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BALLAD OF MY FRIEND, by J. D. BEAZLEY



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THE BALLAD OF MY FRIEND, by            
First Line: There was a man of my country
Last Line: Pillowed on gold, ten fathoms deep.
Subject(s): Oxford University


THERE was a man of my country,
A tall and broad, and grim to see,
Who stript his body to the skin,
And girt his sword on, brown and thin.

Now whenas by my house he came,
I spoke, and called him by his name,
And asked him: "Whither dost thou ride
With thy little brown sword by thy side?"

"Sir," he said, "I go out to-day
A king, a crowned king to slay,
A certain liar and murderer,
An enemy of mine, one Fear.

"I go to slay that tyrant fell,
Who maketh women miserable,
Who sendeth sorrow and changefulness
And wanhope after wickedness.

"He hath done waste this pleasant land,
With fire, and flood, and iron brand;
He will not let my brothers be;
And yesternight he buffeted me."

Friends, have you seen in any place
A man with a brown and bearded face,
Tall, and strong, and grim to see,
And his manners the manners of my country?

I have been to the court of the Emperor of Rome,
Seen Prester John who lives in a tomb,
And, where Indian mountains rise like spears
Black men with coral in their ears.

I have been a slave in the land of gold,
Whose king is two hundred and ten years old,
And seen in a wood in Taprobane
A man who died and rose again.

But never since that summer day
When laughing loud he rode away,
From London town to Ispahan
Have I heard tell of my countryman.

Perchance he caught Fear, as he said,
And slew that wight; and Fear is dead:
Perchance: perchance it is not so;
But I never heard; and who shall know?

Some that are gone into the pit
May hap to have heard the rumour of it,
And men and women who sit in hell
To know the truth therein right well.

Maybe beyond the solitudes,
Where dwell the wild men of the woods,
The Scythian and the Amazon
Have heard thereof, and think thereon.

And blue-haired gods who have their house
Under the green sea dolphinous;
And such white sailormen as sleep,
Pillowed on gold, ten fathoms deep.





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