This Silent Moon is a ballade with double refrain based on a traditional Zen story. Anyone familiar with the ballade format can tell you I’ve only mostly followed the rules.

I would be interested to hear your comments, especially if you’ve written a ballade with double refrain or know of good examples.

This Silent Moon

 A monk met a thief on the road to White Thay

Who brandished a mace as he strode ‘cross the snow.

“Your purse and your coat, and you’ll live yet a day.

Bright gold I must have, though it prove my soul’s woe.”

Said the monk to the thief, “Pray, withhold your blow.

I’ll give you my garments, and with them this boon.

There shines Selene against the night’s indigo.

If I could, I would give you this silent moon.”

“Take this staff; I cut it only yesterday

From an old whitethorn’s heart in the Woods That Glow.

After moonset, the wood-grain will light your way.”

“Bright gold I must have, though it prove my soul’s woe.”

“Yet greater than gold is this cloak of rainbow.

It can carry you off to the Spectral Dune

Where the sand is of seven colors. Although,

If I could, I would give you this silent moon.”

 

“Your boots are worn thin and sore burdened with clay.

Take mine. They are cloud-fleece and hide of fleet doe

With cloudstone soles; the wind shall be your highway.”

“Bright gold I must have, though it prove my soul’s woe.”

“This necklace of teeth, then. Its polish will show

The Sun’s gold, and if you touch this carved rune

The Night Pack will emerge and tear at your foe.

If I could, I would give you this silent moon.”

 

“This ring I once had from a lady, by way

Of a token, for I was her knight, you know.

I fought in her name, yet she did me betray –”

“Bright gold I must have, though it prove my soul’s woe!”

“– yea, such are the trials the heart must undergo.

No pleasure endures and no solacing croon.

We cede it all to God, and forever owe.

If I could I would give you this silent moon.”

 

“Here, the strand of smooth beads upon which I pray.

In death, we harvest what in life we did sow.

They are World Ash seeds; they will never decay.”

“Bright gold I must have, though it prove my soul’s woe.”

“Take my purse, then. See how it does overflow

With autumn leaves, brighter than a gold doubloon.

With silver fish-scales, the feather of a crow.

If I could I would give you this silent moon.”

 

The robber gnashed his teeth and groaned his dismay.

Into a deep well, purse and all, he did throw.

And the robber mumbled as he rode away,

“Bright gold I must have, though it prove my soul’s woe.”

But the monk took a twig and bid it to grow

Into a fine staff, and with cloud to festoon

His body, watched him depart and whispered low,

“If I could, I would give you this silent moon.”

 

The flesh, though sick and engorged, must yet bellow:

“Bright gold I must have, though it prove my soul’s woe.”

The spirit, contented, sings only this tune:

“If I could I would give you this silent moon.”

Category:
Poetry, Writing
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