In ancient times this sacred hill did nourish weary souls
A nobleman once stood here and declared “We’ve reached our goals.”
The land I see from this high place is fertile, watered, green;
Here we can carve out a life that’s safe and most serene.
Houses and small villages can be marked out and built
Fields planted in this thick dark soil enriched with rain and silt.
A fortress to defend our young and old upon that ridge
Looking down upon that great wide river that we’ll bridge
Nine centuries of legend have grown upon this mound
It’s viewed as a great pilgrimage to almost holy ground
Parents with their precious children come here to retrace
The steps of him who gave his name to this enchanted place
Some young are not so keen to climb the steep paths up the hill
Some even lose heart so much as to make themselves quite ill,
Insisting they have not the strength to even reach its base
With wails and whines and tears that keep on streaming down their face.
The father makes the effort to snap his son out of it
Not letting despair win the day, not letting his boy quit
With gritted teeth they climb the slope part way and then they rest
Seeing that his son has so far been doing his best.
Then son decides upon a plan that takes his dad aback
To take a shortcut up the hill far from the concrete track.
The spirit of adventure lives and glows from his young face
Dad can only follow, barely keeping up his pace.
They reach the top, exultant, son has grown his mind and heart;
He’s learned of all that he can do, if only he would start.
Great obstacles now hold less fear, as he knows that he can,
He’s taken one small step towards becoming a young man.
My apologies for the delay, the summer heat has caused an eye irritation that means I cannot look at text on a screen for long without a lot of discomfort, so we’ll see how soon before I can write anything else.
In the meantime, this is what got me started as a poet, and made me realise I might have some talent for poetry, much to my surprise. The situation that brought this experiment about is not a happy one.
For the first year of my marriage, we lived in a rented flat, and our landlord was a young man in his late twenties, living with his girlfriend on the floor above us. He was killed in a car crash about halfway through our tenancy, and we of course attended his funeral. It was the most depressing event I have ever attended, utter despair written into the faces of everyone in his family at such a promising life cut so tragically short, and one of the songs played over his open grave was ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon/Yoko Ono.
I was probably the only native English speaker at the funeral, so I’d like to think that whoever chose that song didn’t understand it, only knowing that he had liked it. I remember thinking at the time that it was a terrible song for a funeral, since its message is one of forsaking all hope for the next life in exchange for some presumed happiness in this one.
It is a beautiful haunting melody, so I set about writing some alternative lyrics that would be close to the original wording while transforming its message into one of genuine hope. Here is the result:
The one on whom we pinned our hopes is now forever gone;
His broken, twisted corpse has shown all witnesses Rome won!
His promises of life and mercy clearly all a fraud,
Hide and lock yourselves away before you face a vicious sword!
What was he thinking? When they came he told us not to fight,
He surrendered with such calm, as if he controlled that night.
We could have made a break for it and seen another day,
With all the wonders that he worked, there had to be another way…
When he merely said his name, they all fell to the ground,
Wasn’t he supposed to clear the temple then be crowned?
Clearly not, no king would choose to die the way he did,
When morning comes it will be time that we all fled and hid.
Deny you ever knew him, or you’ll share his shameful fate;
Our home towns might just take us back, if it’s not too late.
Our women want to see the tomb, embalm his body right,
There they go, despite the gloom of dawn’s approaching light…