Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Lime Of The Ancient Mariner

(Disclaimer: The starred stanzas have been picked up from the original poem : The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Any resemblance to any person dead, non living, alive or comatose is purely coincidental. Any resemblance to such albatrosses is, however, completely intentional.)

Three young men walked down the road
On which an old man stood
The wind bellowed, ill luck it bode
It took off the oldie's hood.

A long grey beard, a glittering eye
Aye the old man had
An eye for an eye, stood up one guy
"Hey, that looks like dad!"

"We'll carry on, if that be true"
And when asked what they meant
Said the other two, it was his issue
And on their way they went

Lonely and cold, this guy walked on
To where the old man stood
And thus the pair, at the stroke of dawn
Sat on a log of wood.

"But you aren't my dad after all"
Said the young man to the old
Said the old man, gaunt and tall
"I have a story which must be told"

I once made a dish full of zing and delice
With ingredients from wide and far
It had sugar and spice and everything nice
But it just wasn't quite sour.

I wondered how I could make it so
What chemical, which enzyme?
Behold and lo! With a frowned brow
I realized I needed lime.

But my land was that of the Midnight Sun
Forever dry and cold
I needed lime but I found none
And nowhere was it sold.

'In these parts', said a man of yore
'Lime is rather rare'
'Tell me more', I did implore
'If not here then where'?

'Three thousand south, four hundred west''
'Is where you should be bound'.
The caribbean is where, in your quest
Will the choicest lime be found.'

'Aye' said I, without a moment's waste
Towards the harbour I ran
I made haste, and my quest for taste
In great earnest, began.

*The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the church, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top.*

The sun came up, so did the tide
They came and they went down
Dolphins cried and swam astride
Kelp floated, long and brown.

But the sky went dark, the sea stood still
We were dank and warm
Then the sea went wild, the wind did trill
The harbinger of a storm!

For days it went, a fortnight neared
The wind howled and tore our sails
The sun he sneered, the clouds they cleared
We'd seen the last of the gales

We rejoiced and cheered and drank and bawled
In merriment did we crow!
But then we stalled and stared appalled
For all around us was snow.

'But of this I've heard, weary I grow'
Said the young man to the old.
'If that be so, I'll let you know
What still hath not been told.'

All the while, caught in the ice
I had only cursed my fate.
In fact I'd twice, considered demise
When screamed thus the first mate.

'Behold! Yon solitary albatross!
Tis always a good omen!'
I looked up, cross, at the albatross
And fainted at what I ken.

Tis the truth I speak, the bird in his beak
Carried something round and yellow.
I had at last found what I did seek
A lime, big and mellow!

I hailed the bird and down he came
And uttered a friendly hoot
He wasn't quite tame but all the same
He gave me the fabulous fruit.

Though I had my lime, it wouldn't suffice
I needed several more
I fed the bird rice, he went forth thrice
And my limes now numbered four.

The ice gave a shudder and broke apart
The wind whistled a merry tune
And I thanked the bird from the bottom of my heart
For he'd brought me good fortune.

My vision blurred as I wondered
If I would see the bird again.
"Land ahoy!", screamed all in joy
And we docked at Port Of Spain

For the whole fortnight was the prospect bright
My stockpile surely grew
Every day and night, I'd scream in delight
I would make sour, my stew!

In due course of time, I had enough lime
My barrels numbered three
Every lime would earn me a dime
I pranced about in glee.

It was finally time for us to leave
Leave the Caribbean coast
We gave the sails one big heave
And raised one final toast.

It had been a week since we'd set sail
When events thus concurred.
Led by its tail? Blown in by the gale?
Down flew a large white bird.

He circled the ship as he'd done in the past
Then he stooped and flew down
He came down fast and perched on a mast
As on a king's head is a crown.

What happened next, I'm sure you know
For my tale is one of renown.
I took an arrow and I strung my bow
And shot the poor bird down.

I saw then that he'd brought me a lime
Perhaps a token of farewell
All agreed, 'twas a heinous crime
And that I would rot in hell.

Smooth and steady we, meanwhile, sailed on,
Fate was with us, all averred.
'Be not forlorn for him who's gone
He was just a shady ol' bird.'

*The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.*
The sea stood still, no wind did come
And life went topsy turvy.
And in this doldrum, bled many a gum
My comrades all had scurvy.

Devoid of time, I ran for lime
Down to the cargo store.
But the lime I sought, it reeked of rot
And was rotten to the core.

Limes and lemons, everywhere
And all of them did stink.
Limes and lemons, everywhere
And all as black as ink.

We tried guava, gooseberry we tried
But all was in vain.
As the men cried and howled and died
Of hunger and in pain.

'You know folklore, I'll say no more'
Said the old man to the young.
'Aye, not the cross, but the albatross
About your neck was hung'.

'The sky grows bright, my head grows light
And I feel sorry for your plight.
For I know of the reason behind your rime.
All that trouble for silly old lime.
But doubtable is your knowledge of taste.
I wouldn't have ever made such haste.
And for a lime, travelled that far.
When vinegar makes food equally sour'.

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