“That day I scored the winning goal!”
the cobbler said and seized the tongs
he spat upon the half-burnt coal
“A stranger boys, the man of songs!”
He stooped beneath the lintel low
a troubador from legend lands
and settling near the greeshagh glow
round blackthorn hasped a harper’s hands.
The mountain marrow braced his bone
hard granite set in monarch mould
his tongue untethered sweetest tone
of silver sound, well veined with gold.
An urchin from the shadows sprang
and straddle-legged on an upturned creel
he lilted loud; the rafters rang
with riot of a mountain reel.
A fiddler drew a long bent bow
the eager dancers couldn’t wait
as fast they rallied heel and toe
and flaked it out to Bonny Kate.
From flagstones faster fly the splanks
all fiddle-frenzied, hard they flail
then sudden wheel to face the ranks
and hobnails bring a handclap hail.
“And now we’ll have the man of songs'”
the cobbler said, and silence fell
as if the love the lone heart longs
for, cast before it’s binding spell.
And music bounded in the breeze
by dark, trout-throw and salmon-leap
where shepard pined and pressed his cheese
and moorcocks cackled in their sleep.
He sang a song the mountains sing
when mating thunders in the blood
and torrent-torn temples fling
from high the fury of the flood.
The last line spoken and the speed
of lightening swept us from the peaks
like Ossian from the famed white steed
for spirit sings but mortal speaks
And as the cobbler raked the fire
and held once more the flat-toed tongs
he sought the land of heart’s desire
and lingered with ‘the man of songs’.
The Man of Songs by Paddy Tunney.