Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Quest

A Bolivian Folktale

Whenever the wind blew softly, whenever it spoke of Spring,
The armadillo fretted because he could not sing.
He'd sit by the pool in the evening, when the frogs were in full voice
And the sound of their loud green croaking would make his heart rejoice.
'Tell me your secret, I beg you!' he'd say to the noisy frogs,
As they sang their haunting love-songs, from their gnarled and mossy logs.
'We cannot teach you our secret! What a very stupid thing!
You are an armadillo! Armadillos cannot sing!'
One day when he was musing some crickets sang a tune;
They chirped and trilled and fluttered in the heat of the afternoon.
Their song filled every corner and Armadillo sighed,
'Please teach me to sing as you do!' But they laughed until they cried.
'You're only an Armadillo! Stop making such a fuss!
We have our wonderful voices, but you cannot be like us!'
He crept by an open window, and he heard canaries sing;
Though caged, they sang as loudly as canaries on the wing.
' Please teach me your song! It's so lovely! I want to sing like you!'
So said the Armadillo, 'Please make my dreams come true!'
But he just amused the canaries who twittered 'Run along!
Remember that armadillos haven't got the gift of song!'
Broken-hearted, the Armadillo wandered off down the wild-wood track
And he came to a place in the forest where the Wizard had his shack.
He knocked, and the door was opened, and the Wizard recognised
That here was a soul in torment, who should not be despised.
'What is your wish, Armadillo?' the Wizard whispered low,
'I want to sing!' came the answer but the Wizard answered 'No!
Some creatures are made for singing and they do it very well,
But you have a gift, Armadillo, and that is your beautiful shell!'
'I don't care for my shell! It is nothing! I've hated my shell from the start!
All I want is a voice for expressing all the music I have in my heart!'
'I can make your shell sing' said the Wizard, 'But I'm fearful and I'll tell you why;
If I take your shell you'll be naked and without it I fear that you'll die.'
'I'd rather be dead than not singing!' Armadillo was down on his knees;
'Take my life! For my shell will be singing! Take it! I beg of you! Please!'
So the Wizard dispatched Armadillo! Ah yes, it's a sad tale to tell!
And the Wizard was left, as he'd promised, to work on the beautiful shell.
And a thing of great beauty was fashioned, a musical instrument too;
And no note was ever so perfect as the note that the Wizard blew!
And he called to his side a musician, the best in the world, people said,
Saying 'Play this for Armadillo, an artist who now is dead'.
And the frogs heard the music playing and the crickets heard song
And the little caged birds, the canaries, knew that they'd been wrong.
And the whole world heard the singing, the glorious musical notes
That seemed to come from the heavens, from a thousand angel throats!
For the songs of Armadillo were the best songs ever heard.
Armadillo himself was singing. Armadillo had the last word.



James said...

You summed it up perfectly. Very sad but beautiful tale.

Gaelyn said...

A good story and I really like the painting.

quilly said...

I had never heard this before. It is a sad and haunting tale.

Anonymous said...

A sad but wonderful tale.

Kat said...

Only by the end of the poem broke from the reverie - got so involved with Armadillo's love and commitment to sing..!!

ninotaziz said...

This was so moving. I live folktales and am so glad you shared this Bolivian story.

Anonymous said...

Brenda, your poem gave me a magic moment: the story, the rhythm and rhyme, all are perfect. Please may I have your permission to send it to my grandson, who is far away for the next few months, and needs to satisfy his need for stories.

Elizabeth said...

I love this. Mythic poetry always does something inside of me, I can't explain. Think it might call to my own Armadillo heart. Many of us must learn this lesson. We must give up what keeps us safe to have that which our heart most longs for. Thank you so much for sharing this one,


Mary said...

I enjoyed this immensely!

Amanda Moore said...

What a wonderful piece of work I wish I had the words to express how beautiful this story is.
It reminds me of Aesop's tales only much more rich in content because of the lovely way it flows in rhyme.