I stumbled upon this little Drinking Song in a small, brightly lit pub about two days walk from the coast. The village I had wandered into seemed entirely asleep, until I saw the beacon of light shining on the broad main, cobblestone path (street is too large a word). The beacon, of course, was the town pub lit up like a star in an otherwise empty sky. Weary from my travels, I stopped in for a drink and a sleep, and accidentally crashed a wedding, the revelers plenty, and plenty drunk. I had no sooner realized my error and began sheepishly backing out when two strong hands lifted me, sat me on a stool by a bar worn smooth by years of patronage, and placed a flagon of drink in my hands. Incidentally, the wedding was between an unlikely pair (neither of whom I knew)– that of a reformed thief, and lady-knight. The groom was a swarthy and the bride as beautiful as one might imagine, and I left the next day with a hangover and not one name to add to the myriad of friendly faces I had met the night before.
Notes on the tune: I can’t recall the exact melody (nor much of anything, really), but the timing was distinctively standard (One, two, three, four… One, two, three, four…) and seems to pair up nicely with the Mill’s Brother’s tune “Paper Doll”.
I drank to me fill, ate mounds o’ red meat
Hoisted my stein, barely stood on me feet
We spoke of the monsters we smited so well
Whether crawling on land, or in the sea’s swell
Not a word believed, among us good folk
A wish-granting fish who had indeed spoke?
Or a big lazy sloth ridden by a gnome?
(Oh he too was a drinker, but kind and with song).
Yes we all stood there, all liars alike
Drinking our drinks– raised a ruckus that night!
And passing our dreams from one fellow to next,
Taking home the stories we did like the best.
And in another time, ’round red meat and beer,
Perhaps our tales will have settled with care
In the minds of our kith, and our listening kin
So that which never was, will be told of again!
And it’s this, little ones, I pass on to thee
(And true it’s not coin, nor land by the sea)
But stories that are bold and allegedly true!
And lacking in gold, I gift my tales to you.
For though we are liars, and charlatans great,
I can leave thee naught else, but my Fool’s Estate.
Copyright Tommy Atkins.
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