Ivy - English

  • The Black Tower

    Say that the men of the old black tower,
    Though they but feed as the goatherd feeds,
    Their money spent, their wine gone sour,
    Lack nothing that a soldier needs,
    That all are oath-bound men:
    Those banners come not in.

    There in the tomb stand the dead upright,
    But winds come up from the shore:
    They shake when the winds roar,
    Old bones upon the mountain shake.

    Those banners come to bribe or threaten,
    Or whisper that a man’s a fool
    Who, when his own right king’s forgotten,
    Cares what king sets up his rule.
    If he died long ago
    Why do you dread us so?

    There in the tomb drops the faint moonlight,
    But wind comes up from the shore:
    They shake when the winds roar,
    Old bones upon the mountain shake.

    The tower’s old cook that must climb and clamber
    Catching small birds in the dew of the morn
    When we hale men lie stretched in slumber
    Swears that he hears the king’s great horn.
    But he’s a lying hound:
    Stand we on guard oath-bound!

    There in the tomb the dark grows blacker,
    But wind comes up from the shore:
    They shake when the winds roar,
    Old bones upon the mountain shake.

    A sepulchral, desolate scent. Long-dead soldiers, oath-bound; the perfume of their armor, the chill wind that surges through their tower, white bone and blackened steel: white sandalwood, ambergris, wet ozone, galbanum and leather with ebony, teak, burnt grasses, English ivy and a hint of red wine.

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