Primula's Adaptations from Classic Poetry - 1

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Contents of this page:
PJ on Bakshi
The Temptation of the Ring
Sam by the Fireside
O Master, my Master!
Cannibal Trees
Stopping by Isengard on a Leafy Evening
The Eagle that's Napping
The Balrog
This is Just to Say
Though You Were Old and Grey
The Purple Cow
Plead For Me
From our Evening Fireside
O Captain, My Captain!
Annabell Lee
Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening
The Eagle That is Forgotten
The Kraken

(Based on "This is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams)

We have eaten
that were in
Merry's pocket

and which
orcs would probably
not feed us

It helped us
they were delicious
Tho' beat-up
and so old.


(inspired by Though You Were Old and Grey by William Butler Yeats)

Though you were old and grey and full of sleep,
In a Hall lit only with fire, you still held a strength
Only slowly fading, and a dream of the proud sight
Your eyes once had, and of their memories deep;

How many had loved your years of noble grace,
And loved your glory with love false or true;
But Merry loved the caring soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down before your aged knees
Murmured, a little sadly, how like a father
You were to him, among many strangers:
And you took his hand in friendship free.

Though you, counted amid the great, then rarely smiled,
And he only a lonely halfling, between you there was a love;
You in your Winter years warmed by his honest Spring.
Like a father you were, to him, - for a little while.


(with apologies to William Wordsworth and his Daffodils)

I wandered lonely as a cloud
   That floats above o'er vales so high
When all at once I saw a crowd,-
    A host of ugly Uruk-Hai
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Grunting and snorting in the breeze.

Continuous as the trash and grime
    They littered on the autumn grass,
They stretched in never-ending line
    Along the margins of the pass:
Ten thousand saw I, at a glance,
Tossing their heads in a frightly dance.

The trees beside them danced, but they
    Trampled the sparkling trees in glee;
A Ranger could not avoid the fray
    In such a well-armed company;
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
What angst the show to me had brought.

For oft, when on my couch I lie,
    In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
    Which is the curse of solitude;
And then my sword desires to fly,
And dance among the Uruk-Hai.


PJ on Bakshi

I never saw a Bakshi show,
I never hope to see one.
But I can say this anyhow:
I'd rather see than be one!


(with apologies to Lewis Carroll)

Twas brillig in the slithy toves
With gyrl and hobbyt in the wabe;
All mimsy were the Barrow-groves
And the mome wraiths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberblack, my friends -
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Naznaz bird, and shun
The frumious Ringersnatch!"

They took their vorpal swords in hand:
Long time the manxome foe they sought -
So rided they with a horsish host,
And traveled deep in thought.

And as in uffish thought they reeled,
The Jabberblack with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey field,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through,
Their vorpal blades went snicker-snack!
They left it dead, without its head
And fell galumphing flat.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberblack?
Come to the city, be healed now!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
They are valiant, I trow."

Twas brillig in the slithy toves
With gyrl and hobbyt in the wabe;
All mimsy were the Barrow-groves
And the mome wraiths outgrabe.


The Temptation of the Ring
This is roughly based on an Emily Bronte poem called "Plead for me."

Ah, thy bright gold must answer now,
When my Reason with scornful brow,
Is mocking at my overthrow!
Oh, thy bittersweet desire must plead for me
And tell why I have chosen thee.

Stern Reason demands judgment come,
Reminds what the inheritance is from:
Wilt thou, my advocate, be dumb?
No, radiant circle, speak and say,
Why have I cast the world away.

Why have I persevered to shun
The common paths the others run,
And on this strange road journeyed on.
Its whispers are alike of wealth and power -
Of glory's wreath, an eternal hour.

With a sinking heart I swore
To seek my own hearth-stone no more,
Fought my spirit's desire to adore
Thee, ever-present, phantom thing;
My own, my precious, is this Ring.

This darling pain that wounds and sears
And wrings such beauty amid my tears
By deadening me to my earthly cares;
And yet, thou Ring, though hidden well
Has taught thy subject to rebel.

And am I wrong to keep it where
I cannot doubt, nor hope despair,
Since my own soul is forfeit here?
Cry out, treacherous Ring, plead for me,
And tell why I have chosen thee!


Sam by the Fireside
Somewhat roughly based on Emily Bronte's "From our Evening Fireside"

From this evening fireside now,
Merry lauhs with cheerful tone,
Smiling, Pippin sings enow -
But to Sam all mirth has flown.

Yes, the grass before the door
Grows still green in Autumn rain,
And as blithely as before
His friends do sing, yet there is pain.

For past misery is he weeping?
What is past can hurt no more;
There is no sorrow here for keeping,
He is more blessed than e'er before -


One is absent, and for one
Cheerless, chill seems his hearthstone -
One is absent, and for him
Cheeks are pale and eyes are dim.


Frodo purchased, by his fall,
Home for them and peace for all:
Yet how darkly dawned his day -
Dreadful was the price to pay!

Just as once, through ocean's mist,
They watched her Light glimmer in his hand,
Then their tears fell like rain,
Tho' Frodo found peace and no more pain.

But traveling back, Sam repined,
Though Merry and Pippin sang at will,
Listlessly, he lagged behind,
Looking backward o're the hill.

Sorrow was not vocal there:
Mute their pain, and his despair.
And so a joy in life was flown -
He was gone, and they were lone.

So it is by morn and eve -
So it is throughout the Hill -
For the absent one he grieves;
One being absent saddens still.


O Master! My Master!
"Don't go where I can't follow!"
(Based on Captain, My Captain by Walt Whitman)

O Master! my Master! Our fearful trip is done,
The spider's web is finally cut, the light we sought is won,
Mount Doom is near, the sounds I hear: it is not her exulting,
For Shelob's eye has been put out, by my battle grim and daring;
  But O heart! heart! heart!
    O I'm on my knees in dread,
      Where on the ground my master lies,
        Fallen cold and dead.

O Master! my Master! rise up and hear my calls;
Rise up - for you my cloak is spread - for you my tears do fall,
For you my strength, and rabbit stews - for you the lonely aching,
For you I call, and for your breath, my eager face is turning;
  Here Master! dear Frodo!
    This arm beneath your head!
      'Twas in my dream that on the ground,
        You've fallen cold and dead.

My Master does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My Frodo does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The Ring is anchor'd safe and sound, weight round my neck is hung,
This fearful trip the fellowship will not prevail til done.
  Be dark O light, and sheathed O Sting!
    As I with mournful tread,
      Walk the ground my Master lies,
        Fallen, cold and dead.


Cannibal Trees
Based on Poe’s “Annabelle Lee”

It was many and many a year ago,
In a forest filled with trees,
That some huorns there lived whom you may know
By the name of the Cannibal Trees;
And this forest it lived with no other thought
Than to leaf and be leafed, you see.

It was an Ent whose news that was sent
To this forest filled with trees
To stir leaves with a leaf that was more than leaf-
Stirring the Cannibal Trees;
With a leaf that the branched plants of Orthanc
Would covet, no longer green.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this forest filled with trees,
A night filled up with a sound, filling
With rustling Cannibal Trees;
So that when highborn kinsman came
And chased orcs as they rabidly flee,
It shut them up as in a sepulcher
In this forest wild with trees.

The huorns, not half so happy when sleeping
As when luring an orc to be treed -
Yikes!- their forest keeping
(as all should know, In this forest filled with trees)
Like a wind coming out of a clouded night,
The tilling and killing by Cannibal Trees.

For their leaves there were sharper by far than the leaves
Of those who were older indeed-
O’er many fat roots did they heave-
And neither the branches a-waving above,
Nor the orcs down a-groveling on knees,
Could ever dissever the bark from the bite
Of the ravening Cannibal Trees.

For a tree never creaks without bringing me dreams
Of the rustling Cannibal Trees;
And the sprouts never rise but I see the deep eyes
Of the optical Cannibal Trees;
And so, all the night-tide, I sit down on my seat,
By my campfire, my campfire, my light and my heat,
In the clearing there by the lea,
Away from the creak-sounding trees.


Stopping by Isengard on a Leafy Evening
Based on Robert Frost's "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening"

Whose woods these are I think I know,
Fangorn is at an Entmoot, though -
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods defeat our foe.
Saruman must think it queer
That trees have gathered round so near,
Between the Coomb and Isegard
This evening of our darkest year.
He gives his palantir a shake
To check if there is some mistake,
For new sounds cause Orthanc to quake:
Hooming echo, walls that break.

I wish that I could stay to see
The woods defeat my enemy,
Towering high the glowing steam:
Ents sweet revenge; fury of tree.
The woods are raging, dark and deep-
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


The Eagle That’s Napping
Based on Vachel Lindsay’s “The Eagle That is Forgotten”

Sleep lightly ... eagle that’s napping ... upon your nest.
Time is still passing there, though the night has its rest.

"We have fooled him now," thought the orcs, and in secret rejoiced.
They lit a bright fire for their victims, their hatred well-voiced.
They had snarled at you, barked at you, foamed at you, day after day.
Now you were hidden. They forgot you ... and pine-treed their prey.

The others, that knew life in silence and terror and truth,
The hobbit bereft of his pipe, and the dwarf without couth,
The mocked and the scorned and the hounded, the bearded that fought,
That should have remembered your stories ... Knew of you not.

Where is that wizard of yours, on whose strength does he fall,
When lost up in tree-tops? Yours, and you answer the call!
You call on the names of a hundred high-valiant ones,
A dozen strong eagles have risen, the sons of your sons,
The zeal in their wings is a zeal that your dreaming began,
A valor that is rarely offered to the service of man.

The dwarves that clung high, the fire whipping in the breeze,
Felt themselves lifted, the hobbit grabbing at one’s knees
They shrieked and they moaned but to safety were borne aloft.
By the kindness of one wizard, to the eagles their caps were doffed.

Sleep lightly ... eagle that’s napping... upon your nest.
Time is still passing there, though the night has its rest.
Sleep on, O brave-hearted, O wise one that sighted the flame --
To fly with eagles is far more than to live in a name.


The Balrog
(based on The Kraken by Tennyson)

Below the diggings of the deepest mines,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal slime,
From his ancient, flame-wreathed, interrupted sleep
The Balrog waketh: faintest billows swirl
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge wings of unmeasurable width and height;
And far away into the blackest night,
From many an ore-veined and secret cell
Unnumbered bones, silent in ashes, age.
Whither their treasures and fires smelting ore?
Cold dust, as the testimony of his rage,
Swept aside by his flaming will and fiery core,
Until a cleaner fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by Man and Maia to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.