The Traveller

Dlitpic-Gelney DownsWe tend to sound like a lot of other people before we learn to sound like ourselves. A large part of learning to write, personally, has been the experience of getting to know myself. This is something I am sure I have in common with most people. At the beginning of learning about poetry, I decided to try my hand at copying a poem from my childhood, Poe’s The Raven. I used his wonderfully haunting meter as a guideline and wrote a thing I called The Traveller. It would perhaps be more precisely titled The Merchant, but something about spelling traveler with a double L caught my imagination since I imagined it in an old never-when anywhere medieval countryside of the British Isles…perhaps in Wales. Therefore, The Traveller it has remained.

This is a story about a young man who set off into the world to make enough money that he would become a candidate for marriage to a young higher-born woman. After many years of hard work he has improved himself and has headed home to state his case to her father and ask for the woman’s hand in marriage. Sadly, he is too late:

 

Inside the walls of Gelney Downs, a winter night has turned the town

At last into the place of rest, I sought when I began

A journey felt by heart’s direct, though sadly left the heart bereft

To the place whence came and first I met

The lovely late Muiree

 

My love compelled me fortune seeking, along the road on wagon creaking

Creaks that told my coming from a league or two away

So sure I was to find her there, that scarce I thought I mustn’t dare

To dress myself and journey there

To the home of Miss Muiree

 

At dawn I dressed with joyful passion, smugly suited, dressed in fashion

My purse a jingle with the sounds of coin’s uncounted glee

Within my carriage bundled tightly, goods and gifts were carried lightly

Lighter than my love compelled me

Afloat so buoyantly

 

The cost to join such fair a maiden, from such a house as Dorian Fayden’s

A man who lifted gold to mouth without much modesty

Within my heart as daylight fades, there hope resides for payment made

Such treasures, I, have brought in trade

The gifts for my Muiree

 

There was a summer long ago, when she admitted she beholds me

Far above the moneyed men who lacked all gallantries

The courting then was nearly done, to her father’s house I rose to run

To say my piece, declare he trust

Her hand, in mine, for free

 

For lack of fortune he abstained, from allowing my impoverished name

I set out then to return home as a man of better means

In my absence there were suitors, one now claimed her, nay, removed her

The hand of death, of pox and murder

His cold hand caught Muiree

 

What could make a life worth living, now that I had naught for giving

Beside my gifts and wealth that I’ve accrued so selflessly

The world over I have been, a trader trading cloth and gin

Now never would I hold again

My priceless, flown, Muiree

What I love about looking back at this was that I learned very little about poetry in doing this, and I don’t pretend to be a poet, but what I realized is that this was my first short story, more than it was a poem. In searching for something new in my writing, in playing with a form I did not understand, and in emulating someone else, I managed to find something I wasn’t looking for in the first place. I discovered the sweetness of writing short fiction. Good ideas seem to happen most when you’re trying something new.

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