Walkin on Air

Ballad of Long John Silver

THE BALLAD OF LONG JOHN SILVER
23.06-13.1990


INTRODUCTION

NOW HERE'S A THOUGHT FOR HONEST FOLKS,
THOUGH FEW THERE BE ALIVE:
A PARALLEL MAY SNAPPED BE DRAWN
HOW BAD NOT GOOD SURVIVE.

THE MURDERER, THE LIAR, THIEF
IN PERSON LONE APPEARS:
AS PIRATES ARE THEY KNOWN TO SOME
FROM TALES OF BUCCANEERS.

AS IF BY MAGIC THEY TRANSFORM
TO CITIZENS OF RIGHT,
IN SUNSHINEGARMENTS BRIGHT THEY FLASH
THEIR HEARTS AS DARK AS NIGHT.

A MIGHTY MASTER OF THE WORLD
JULIUS CAESAR WAS,
BUT CAUGHT BYE PIRATES OF HIS DAY
HE FEARED HIS LIFE, ALAS!

OF NATIONS ALL AROUND THE WORLD
THE BRITS HAVE HELD MOST FAME,
UNLIKE THEIR ASIAN COUNTERPARTS
THEY GLORIFIED THE NAME.

DEAR SPAIN WAS USED TO JUSTIFY
THE PLUNDER, HATE AND GREED:
WITH VIOLENCE IN ECSTASY
DID THEY THEIR DIRTY DEED.

HAITI OR TORTUGAS DRY
FIRST SERVED AS HAVEN SAFE,
JAMAICA'S LATER PORT ROYAL
WAS BASECAMP WHENCE TO SRAFE.

SIR MORGAN, HENRY JOHN WAS THERE
SOON GOVONOR TO BE,
HE PORTO BELLO SACKED WITH ZEAL:
TERROR ON LAND AND SEA.

CONSIDER EDWARD ENGLAND THUS
WHO CHANGED FROM GOOD TO BAD:
WHEN FAILING CRUELTY TO SHOW
DIED MAROONED, WENT MAD.

NOW BLACKBEARD, WHO SURRENDER FAKED,
EDEN'S GARDEN ENJOYED
WITH TRIBUTE AND A LOCAL LASS
TILL MAYNARD HE ANNOYED.

ANNE BOUNTY AS A MAN WAS DRESSED,
HER FATE REMAINS UNKNOWN;
CALICO JACK OF RACKHAM SAILED
WITH MARY READ HER CLONE.


DE BASCO'S DRIPPING SPEAR AND SCULL,
JOLLY ROGER'S PASSAGE,
ROBERT'S THE DANDY, CAPTAIN BROWN,
SWORD AND SCULL OF LESAGE…

KEELHAULING TALKS OR WALK THE PLANK:
HO! DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES,
MISSION THE HOLY FLIES WHITE FLAG,
A STURDY SAILOR PALES.

SUCH DEVILS NOTHING SACRED HOLD,
LANCELOT BLACKBURN ASK;
ARCH-BISHOP HE OF YORK BECAME:
ABOUT TURN ON A CASK.

"STAND BY TO BOARD, SHE TREASURE HOLDS!
AHOY MESSMATES, AHOY!"
AFTER THE FIGHT THE CAPTAIN CALLS,
"FETCH ME RUM AND BUMBOY!"

PIECES OF EIGHT! PIECES OF EIGHT!
AWAKE! AWAKE! SURPRISE!
THE REASON GOOD SEEMS NOT TO WORK?
WE'RE OUTSIDE PARADISE!

THE STORY

HE LOOKED A FRIGHTFUL SIGHT THE LAD,
AS HE CLIMBED OFF THE SHIP:
RAGGED CLOTHES, DUFFLEBAG WITH A
CUTLASS HUNG FROM THE HIP.

TALL HE WAS, SIX FOOT SIX, STOOD STRONG;
HAD LONG FLOWING BLOND HAIR,
NOT A DAY OVER TWENTY FOUR
HE'D SAILED ON A CORSAIR.

AROUND HIS NECK A TARRYSTRING
HELD A SMALL SILVERKEY,
WHICH HE TOOK IN HIS HAND AND KISSED.
PAINTER FROM SHIP PUSHED FREE.

HE SAT. HE TOOK HIS GULLY OUT
TO CUT A PIECE O'DUFF
THAT HE MUNCHED ON THE WAY TO SHORE,
OF SEA HE'D HAD ENNOUGH.

AFTER THEY'D TIED THE DOCKINGROPE
WITH LAND UNDER THEIR FEET,
THE BOATSWAIN CAULKER ONE PROPOSED,
BUT HE'D SOMEONE TO MEET.

TOWARDS THE COUNTRY SET HE OFF,
NOTHING COULD HIM PREVENT,
HIS MIND HE'D MADE UP LONG AGO
DECLARING HIS INTENT.

HE'D DONE WHAT HE SET OUT TO DO,
THE WORST WAS NOW BEHIND;
A PROMISE FAIR BEFORE HIM LAY
EVER UPON HIS MIND.

HIS PACE WAS BRISK, A ROLLING GAIT,
SIX YEARS HE'D BEEN AT SEA;
ADVENTURES HIGH HE'D TASTED MUCH,
ESCAPED THE GALLOWS' FEE.

BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS HE'D SHED THEM ALL,
THE PRICE WAS NOT TOO HIGH;
HE KNEW WHAT HE'D BEEN FIGHTING FOR,
WAS NOT AFRAID TO DIE.

A NOBLE FEELING IN HIS HEART
WOULD SWELL HIS BREAST WITH PRIDE
EACH TIME HIS SPIRIT LINGERED ON
THOUGHTS OF HIS FUTURE BRIDE.

A FLAMING CHERUB, BROTHER SUN
DANCED ON FAR MOUNTAINPEAK;
A HAWK, ITS DINNER HELD IN CLAWS,
FLEW BY: THE MOUSE DID SQUEAK…

THE DANCING CEASED, THE SUN HAD SET
AND DUSK WAS ALL AROUND;
HIS HOME WAS VERY NEARBY NOW,
HE RECOGNIZED ITS SOUND.

THE CONFRONTATION

SCARCELY TWELVE YEARS, A HANDSOME BOY
CAME FROM MILKING THE COWS,
BESIDE HIM WALKED A GIRL OF FOUR;
HE STOPPED AND RAISED HIS BROWS.

THE LITTLE GIRL FEARFULLY SCREAMED
AND RUSHED TOWARDS THE DEN,
SPRAWLING FELL MIDST CACKEL AND SQUAKS
TRIPPING OVER A HEN.

FRESH MILK AS A LIQUID CARPET
OF SNOW COVERED THE STONES:
BUCKETS CLANGED, TUMBLED AND RUMBLED
MIXED WITH THE KNOCKING OF BONES.

"HELP, ANDY HELP! A GHOST! A GHOST!"
SHOUTED THE BOY AFFRIGHT.
SHRIEKED THE GIRL, "DADDY, DADDY COME!"
OUT STEPPED HE IN THE NIGHT.

"NOW, WHAT IS ALL THIS ROUGHHOUSE ABOUT?
DAN! WHAT'S SHE DOING THERE
AND WHY IS MILK SPILLED ON THE GROUND?
GET UP SALLY, COME HERE!"

BEFORE HE SPOKE ANOTHER WORD
THE BOY EXCLAIMED, "IT'S JOHN!"
"WHAT NONSENSE DAN," SAID HE AND SIGHED,
"YOU KNOW JOHN'S DEAD AND GONE."

"THEN WHO'S THAT STANDING OVER THERE
BY THE OLD PIGSTY GATE?"
ASKED DAN TO A SHADOW POINTING.
"AYE, 'TIS ME, JOHN, BY FATE

WELL PRESERVED AND BACK TO LIFE BROUGHT;
GHOSTS HAVE NOT BLOOD AND BONE,
MINE THOUGH I NEARLY LOST AT TIMES,
REAL ENNOUGH AM I, NOT STONE."
 
THE OLDER MAN AGED THIRTY-TWO
GASPED AS JOHN NEARER CAME.
"WHAT JEST IS THIS, IF I MAY ASK,
TO USE MY BROTHER'S NAME?"

"O COME NOW ANDY! CAN'T YOU SEE
THAT TRULY IT IS I?
I'VE COME BACK HOME TO MARRY BETH,
TO WORK, TO LIVE, TO DIE."

"DANIEL! MY SALLY TAKE INSIDE.
OF THIS BREATHE NOT A SOUND.
SAY, SHOULD THEY ASK, A STRANGER PASSED
WHO SEEMS FOR SOUTHWARD BOUND."

THUS LEFT ALONE THE BROTHERS TWO
STOOD LOOKING FACE TO FACE.
SAID JOHN, "WHY ANDY, YOU I THOUGHT
WOULD GIVE ME AN EMBRACE…"

"YOU BROKE DAD'S HEART GOING AWAY
WITH NO WORD OF FAREWELL:
SIX YEARS NO NEWS HAS COME OUR SIDE
'CEPT OF YOUR DEATH TO TELL.

THE SHIP YOU SAILED THEY SAID WENT DOWN;
A FRIGHFUL STORM THERE WAS,
OF MEN AND MICE NO TRACE WAS FOUND,
THE CAGO WAS A LOSS.

YET HERE YOU STAND ALIVE AND WHOLE,
I DARE NOT UNDERSTAND
WHAT FATE HAS BROUGHT YOU HOME AGAIN
FREE FROM THE OCEANSAND.

IT IS NOT THAT I YOU LIFE BEGRUDGE,
IT'S ONLY THINGS HAVE CHANGED:
HAD WE KNOWN YOU'RE ALIVE, FACTS MIGHT'VE
BEEN OTHERWISE ARRANGED."

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN? IS FATHER ILL
OR HAVE YOU LOST THE FARM?
BUT NO THAT COULDN'T BE,
GOD KEEPS YOU ALL FROM HARM.

LOOK HERE: THIS MONEY HAVE I BROUGHT
AND JEWELS ALL FOR US:
FOREVER POVERTY IS GONE,
NO NEED TO SWEAT 'N CUSS.

SO TELL ME NOW, IS FATHER WELL?
AND DANNY LOOKS SO STRONG;
HOW BETH'LL BE SURPRISED, I BET;
COME, LET US MOVE ALONG…"

"NAY JOHNNY, NAY! YOU LISTEN HERE."
HIS BROTHER'S FACE SEEMED SAD.
"FATHER DIED WHEN HE HEARD YOU'D DROWNED,
HE TOOK THE NEWS SO BAD.

THE FARM HE LEFT FOR ME TO RUN
WITH DANNY IN YOUR STEAD,
THER PAPERS ARE DRAWN UP AND SEALED,
OF FAMILY I'M HEAD.

AND THUS ARE WE CONTENT TO BE,
WE WISH NO FURTHER CHANGE:
WITH JEWELS AND YOUR PRECIOUS GOLD
WE'D ONLY FEEL MOST STRANGE.

WE'RE MERELY SIMPLE HONEST FOLKS,
DON'T NEED EXTRAVAGANCE;
WE'RE NOT LIKE YOU WHO WENT AWAY
TO LEAD A LIFE OF CHANCE."

"I'M GLAD YOU'RE HERE, I LOVE YOU STILL,"
SAID DAN WHO HAD SLIPPED BACK.
A HUG HE GAVE WITH KISS THEN ASKED,
"WHAT'S IN YOUR GUNNYSACK?"

"BRIGHT SILK AND LACE, EMBROIDERED CLOTH
TO GIVE MY MAIDEN FAIR,
AND PISTOLS TWO OF IVORY
TO SHOOT THE ONE WHO'D DARE

MY LOVELY BETH TO HARM OR FRIGHT
OR TRY TO STEAL ONE DAY:
FOR HER I HAVE COME BACK, YOU SEE,
FOR HER WENT I AWAY.

IT MATTERS NOT, GOOD ANDREW SIR!
YOU HOLD NO ROOM FOR ME?
MY BRIDE I'LL TAKE TO DISTANT SHORES
THAT LIE BEYOND THE SEA.

MY CUTLASS, DAN, I GIVE TO YOU:
IT IS A WEAPON FIERCE,
WHICH SAVED MY LIFE SO OFT A TIME
THIS HEART NO ONE COULD PIERCE."

WHILE THUS HIS STORY JOHN DID TELL
THE HOUSEDOOR OPENED WIDE,
SALLY AT FIRST HER HEAD STUCK OUT
THEN RAN SHE BACK INSIDE.

WHENCE THEY STOOD IT WAS CLEARLY SEEN
THE ONE TO WHOM SHE RAN:
A COMELY WOMAN YOUNG AND MEET
AN INFANT BY HER HAND.

"MOMMY! MOMMY!" THY HEARD THE CHILD,
"THEY'RE STANDING JUST OUTSIDE."
A FEARFUL FACE THE WOMAN TURNED
WITH SALLY FOR TO HIDE.

AGHAST STOOD JOHN, HIS FACE WENT PALE,
THE CUTLASS WEIGHT HE FELT;
IN HIS EYES ANDREW TENSELY STARED,
THE TRUTH ITS BLOW HAD DEALT.

ARM RAISED TO STRIKE, HIS WRATH JOHN ROARED
IN ONE BLOODCHILLING YELL:
"MY BRIDE IT IS YOU TOOK AS WIFE?!
MAY YOU BOTH ROT IN HELL!"

ALL TIME STOOD STILL OR SO IT SEEMED
WHILE WAITING FOR THE STROKE.
"OUR BROTHER'S BLOOD MUST CHRISTEN NOT,"
DANIEL IT WAS WHO SPOKE,

"THE GIFT YOU HAVE JUST GIVEN ME,
THIS GOD COULD NOT FORGIVE.
TWO YEARS WENT BY YOUR DEATH ANNOUNCED,
WHILE EVERYONE DID GRIEVE;

ANDREW HIS RIGHTFUL DUTY DID
YOU WIDOWED BRIDE TO WED,
LIFE MUST GO ON, AS YOU KNOW WELL,
IN SPITE OF COMMOMN DEAD."

"SUCH WISDOM FROM A BOY SO YOUNG,
YOU SOUND LIKE FATHER'S GHOST,"
JOHN SAID. "I FEAR NOT GOD OR MAN.
OF FRATRICIDE TO BOAST

MY FATHER HAVING PUT IN THE GRAVE
IS MORE THAN I WOULD WANT."
AGAINST THE WALL THE CUTLASS HIT
WITH A CLATTERING TAUNT.

"COME HERE MY DANNY, COME TO ME
AND GIVE ANOTHER HUG!
TWO LIVES ME THINKS YOU'VE SAVED TONIGHT
JUST BEING SMART 'N SNUG.

BUT YOU I LOATHE, ALWAYS THE FIRST:
ANDREW, THE ELDEST SON!
THOUGH NEVER ONCE DID I FORGET
FATHER OR ANYONE.

FOR SIX LONG YEARS THE MEMORY
WAS STAMPED UPON MY BRAIN:
FOR THIS I LIVED, FOR THIS I FOUGHT
TO SEE YOU ALL AGAIN.

I THOUGHT TO BRING YOU HAPPINESS,
TO SHARE MY WEALTH AND FAME,
BUT FIND THAT YOU'VE FORGOTTEN ME
AND STOLEN HAVE MY NAME!

THESE THINGS I LEAVE DO WHAT YOU WILL;
SEE ME YOU SHALL NO MORE.
REMEMBER THIS ON YOUR LAST DAY:
LONG JOHN FORGAVE THIS SCORE!"

THUS HAVING SAID HE WALKED AWAY
THE OLD ROAD WHENCE HE CAME:
HIS PACE WAS BRISK, HIS STEPS WERE CRISP,
THE MOONSHINE JUST THE SAME…

THE TRYST

AFTER AWHILE JOHN STOPPED TO THINK
WHAT PAIN WAS IN HIS HEART,
HE'D REACHED A HILLTOP BY AN OAK:
HIS CHILDHOOD PLAYGROUND PART.

'IF SHE HAD KNOWN THAT I WAS THERE',
HE SAT AND REASONED OUT,
'SURELY WITH ME SHE WOULD HAVE COME;
THIS I CANNOT DOUBT.

I WILL, I THINK, TRY ONCE AGAIN
WHAT I HAVE LONG NOT DONE.
I'LL PRAY THAT GOD TO ME WILL SEND
MY DEAR, BELOVED ONE,

AND THEN I'LL WAIT THAT IF MAYHAP
SOME FAVOR ON ME FALLS;
SO WHEN SHE COMES, TOGETHER WE
MIGHT RUN WHEN ANDY CALLS.'

THUS MUSING SAT HE QUITE ALONE
DISCOVERED BY MOONBEAMS:
A NIGHTINGALE ITS DRYAD SANG,
FRESH WATER FLOWED IN STREAMS…

THEN FAINTLY COULD HE HEAR A SOUND
AS WERE IT SHUFFLING FEET;
SOON PANTING SIGHS REVEALED SOMEONE
WHO WANTED HIM TO MEET.

HE SAW A WOMAN'S SILHOUETTE
APPROACH HIM UP THE HILL:
SHE STAGGERED AS IF HAD SHE RUN
A RACE WITH TIME AND TILL.

HER FACE HE COULD NOT RIGHTLY SEE,
'TWAS DARK THOUGH MOON IT SHONE.
THEN IN A VOICE WELL KNOWN SHE SPOKE,
"JOHN, IS THAT YOU MY SON?!"

EPILOGUE

HENCE TIME IT PASSED, OLD GLAMOR GLAZED,
BUT SCROUNDRELS WHO CAN TAME?
THEIR FACES AGE, THEY COME AND GO,
THEIR SPIRITS ARE THE SAME.

FROM WEST TO EAST THE BREED IS FOUND
WITH SWORD OR SCIMITAR,
ALL SOMETHING SEEK TO MAKE THEM RICH
AND POWERFUL BY FAR.

THEIR METHODS CHANGE, THEIR PURPOSE NOT,
DISGUISES ARE PREFERRED:
"LET VICTIMS LIVE THEM ROB AGAIN!"
THE MODERN VOICE IS HEARD.

THINGS VARIOUS BE WORTH TO ROB
OF VALUE GREAT AND SMALL,
IT REALLY MATTERS NOT A WHIT:
IN DEATH THEY LOSE IT ALL!

BESIDES, AS SINNERS SOON FIND OUT,
TREASURE IS BUT REWARD
FOR WORSHIPPING THE FALLEN ONE
AND AIDING IN HIS SPORT.

DEVOTION'S FLAME, THE THING TO STEAL
FOR BRIGANDS OF RENOWN,
IS WORTH MUCH MORE THAN PUREST GOLD,
MORE THAN THE SWEETEST SOUND.

NOT MOTH OR RUST NOR CANKER EATS:
SUCH TREASURE NEEDS NO CAVE.
DEATH IT HOLDS IN TIGHT EMBRACE,
FOLLOWS BEYOND THE GRAVE.

ETERNAL FLAME OF THE UNIVERSE,
COVETED TREASURE TROVE!
IT'S KNOWN BY A MOST SACRED NAME:
THAT HOLY NAME IS LOVE!

"HEY HO! AND A BOTTLE OF RUM;
AHOY MESSMATES, AHOY!"
LONG JOHN SILVER, FAMOUS THE NAME,
WAS ONCE A REAL FARMBOY…


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Ballad of Long John Silver

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