The Bard Blues

Earlier this year, someone approached with the notion that being a bard was a relatively simple undertaking; of course, I took a small bit of umbrage to that idea, and responded with the following poem:

Who is a bard, who asks, who claims
Such title, such a sorrowed fame?
There are poets, minstrels, clowns
And more that covet bardic crowns,

They’ll study years and not begin
To grasp that song that cries within.
A Bard, why who would want the right
To spend too few a restful night

When chronicle the times he must,
And trace mankind from dust to dust?
The glory, what is that to thee,
When one imprisoned means none free?

The secret language of the bard,
Oft covers pain and life lived hard,
For royal poets all are gone –
We’ve lost the schools, the tools, the songs;

As minstrel singers take the stage,
And style, not substance, is the rage.
Who is a bard, who wants to be?
‘Tis not a role filled easily,

For few can stand to see in mirrors
Their faults beside their wasted years,
While wielding still the two-edged sword
Of pleasing crowd, and self, and lord.

A bard am I, are any here?
‘Tis not a calling, or career,
But endless years of toil and sweat
To write in words, lest all forget;

And still they do, for words will fail,
When there’s a life, who needs a tale?
A bard is more than line and verse,
More than a song for coin in purse –

But more a sacred touching stone,
And oft, for this, he dreams alone,
For passing between death and life
May lose him friend, or work, or wife

Who is a bard? A slave to those
That seek to know why words be chose,
And those who want a glimpse of light,
While they themselves are still in night;

For these, the bard must ply his wares
And speak the truth, tho’ no one cares.
The sacred silence we all find
In doubtful moments, kills the mind

And makes us wonder of the use
For shaping language into noose;
But still we write, because we must
Until we, like our words, are dust.

Summer 2002

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