Epic poetry, once a valued art form, has seemingly fallen upon hard times. When was the last time you heard someone, anyone, extol the likes of Evangeline (I know I’ve never read it, but it was one of my mom’s faves), or The Aeneid (I did read that one, and maybe ingested about 70%). I think of story poems as the opera of the written word: beautifully done, and woefully under-appreciated.
So for the next several Thursdays in the “Not My Poetry” category, I’m introducing a new, soon-to-be published epic poem in short installments.. The author, Robert L. Jones III (of the blogsite, Pneumythology), playfully describes the writing style as “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner meets Dr. Seuss”, and if you know his site at all, inside of this grown man is a little boy who still loves big scary monsters.
And so, blogging world, I give you—
By Robert L. Jones III (check it out at Pneumythology)
The legend hails from northern seas, a tale that few know well,
Where faith and fear blow freely on the gray and changing swell.
Mark well the drift of this account, and come to understand
That humble and heroic things go often hand in hand.
Great beauty can arise somehow from ugly circumstance
Till on the heaps of tragedy brave men and angels dance
And find the grace to pause and hear the song that heaven sings,
The offered joy of common folk, philosophers, and kings.
A struggle of the soul that found occasion to express
Its failure and its victory through physical duress,
This tale begins within the depths of ignorant despair
Wherein a monster threatened all who breathed the ocean air.
Reports would come to colder ports and spread from place to place
That ships on northern routes had disappeared without a trace.
Alleged survivors’ recollections met with mirth and scorn.
Some said from superstition’s womb the Kraken had been born.
The rumors flourished in the minds of those disposed to think
A pair of cold, unearthly eyes observed them from the drink,
And arguments flew back and forth till from a harbor town
Some citizens and seamen saw a merchant ship go down
In tangled mass of tentacles and blackened, churning foam,
A masted vessel splintered but a quarter mile from home.
The wreckage drifted in for nights and littered many days,
But not a man clung to the boards that floated in the haze.
From then, it seemed that none would dare to walk along the shore.
The legend grew from mouth to mouth in neighborhood and store.
In taverns next to many docks where ships would come and leave,
Men gathered over food and ale to listen and believe.
How thoughtfully they chewed their meals, digesting tale on tale.
Such sessions often went till dawn, when, filled with too much ale,
Some stouter men drew courage from within the barrel staves
And so resolved to cast their lots upon the open waves.
To gamble thus and play the odds such manly pride knows well.
Courageously misguided steps lead often into Hell.
Some sailed and lived. Some sailed and died, not knowing what it cost.
Some owners of their ships retired with fortunes made or lost.
Within the course of daily life, where time can break or mend,
On this delayed trajectory, who knows how it will end?
In times of choice and consequence, but few had thought it through,
And as their lives passed slowly by, the Kraken fed and grew.