Tuesday, April 17, 2007

NaPo 07 #16: The Betsy

This one is again a bit of a rewrite of a 2006 NaPo stillbirth, or more accurately an extension. The first 7 verses were written (and then forgotten) 12 months ago; the rest was written today - possibly as a penance of some sort.

Snowdrop (the 57th part):
The Betsy

"There comes a time when ice defines
the fields, and ditches freeze
as solid as the stiffened corpse
swung high to tease the breeze.
The snow will gather in the streets
and cattle in their barns
and folks will gather round the fires
to watch the hooden dance.

"Now I's the Betsy, can't you tell?
My dress is made of silk!
my stocking cotton comes from France,
my gloves is white like milk.
My hair is fair, my heart is strong,
my honour is intact -
and I'll be first to clump the arse
of those who doubt these facts!

"This troupe of vagabonds and thieves
is here to tell a tale
of how the Lord our God Above
became a man so frail
that He could die upon the cross
in anger and in shame
and in His death to bring to us
forgiveness in His Name!

"A thousand years and more ago
around this time of year
a woman dressed in blue became
a mother, blessed from fear
and at that time the farmyard swine
and horses, sheep and kine
raised up a din to keep away
the Devil and his kind.

"And that's what we must do tonight:
a play we must perform
to keep at bay this winter's bite
and keep our bellies warm.
Our laughs will make the Devil's head
explode in blood and bones;
our dance will stop the Devil's legs
from straying near our homes.

"So meet my troop of merry men
who've travelled far and wide
to keep this hillside safe and hale
and true to God's own side.
I'll start with Carter, built of stone -
a solid churchman, him,
who keeps the dancers out of harm
and also very slim.

"Our Carter's staff is like the wrath
of God when riled to fight
and useful too for keeping safe
our stocks of food each night.
But who would steal such frugal fare
from honest folks like us?
What kind of beast would bust the reins
of friendship, love and trust?

"Beware the hobby! He's a fiend
a feral animal
with bones for skin and nails for teeth
and ribbons round his skull
He'll eat your babbies, steal your bread,
demolish house and hearth.
He'll drink your beer and then he'll piss
right in your old mum's bath!

"Beelzebub's own horse he is;
a fearsome sight to see
and even Carter can't keep him
away from you and me.
Can no one save us from this beast
now savaging our homes?
Is there no saint to hear our prayers
and slay this bag of bones?

"But ho! I hear a trumpet blare
from high up on the hill -
a fair haired lad has come to bring
this evil bane to heel.
He wears a breastplate bright as noon
and carries a great spear,
and even though he tumbles down
the hill we give a cheer!

"For he is England's own Saint George -
a little short, we know -
but even so he's not afraid
to battle monstrous foes.
He fights for Christ and Christendom
and our own mortal souls
(however tarnished they may be,
though mine is solid gold).

Just watch him take his great big stick
and wave it at the horse
and how he thwacks the Carter's head -
a practice shot, I'm sure!
They circle now, a courtly dance
of chivalry and shame,
but just before he kills the beast
we'll break for bread and ale

"For it is said, and truly so,
that godly work is tough
and harder still when hunger knocks
our bellies like a puff.
So bring us beer, and mead, and bread
and maybe some roast duck.
Then once we've supped we'll see just how
our saviour rides his luck!"

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