A Journey

He speaks, “I sat on a ship waiting for the storm to take its toll. The people they asked if this would be their last home. I shouted and cried, yes! Indeed this the end of their lives! But I seek new lands, how stubborn of me!

So the storm began –the tepid seas quickly changed and became, the most vicious of seas
 And my god did I fear, the worst to come!

But just as the pouring and shaking was reaching its worst, and the waves they clashed upon on our poor hearth,
 A serpent evil, slithered onboard, and in its evil, whispered a song.

My men they listened and slowly their eyes rolled,
 it was as if their minds had gone, and they were cast into wrong!

Two of them jumped off-board and drowned of their own accord. Three of them brawled and bloodied their hands till they all dropped on the floor. Four of them tied themselves to the top of the ship’s mast.

And I was alone, to face the serpent’s wrath.

He came to me, with bargain and deal and said with cunning, the deadliest deal,

‘Kill yourself. And I will save your men. All nine of them will be spared, and they will reach the end.

They’ll go home to their wives, they’ll find riches and fame. Indeed, they’ll also speak your name, and you will be remembered in the greatest of fame.

A painless drug I give to you. What say you today?’

Ah! And how I looked at the serpent in vain. That I should forget what I sailed for, that I could not mistake.

For new lands, my men knew what was at stake. I cannot pity them, I let them burn at the stake.

I speak, ‘Serpent! I accept no defeat. And I cast you out, for I have no need.’ ”

And with a lunge and a grab and a tear cast from his eye, he held the serpent’s tail –and in one fluid snap, cast the serpent off.

The serpent plunked into the sea and with it the fate of his men. For the last 900 leagues, he’d be sailing himself.

— 
 A child speaks, “But Mother, why did the man not save his crew? Wouldn’t he have been remembered as a hero too?”

The Mother smiles and speaks, “Yes, this is true, but then he was no hero, he was a leader and a fool.

And because of this fool, we now live on the land that he found too.”

“Huh? But this man seems but wretched! That he chose this land over his crew?”

“But my child don’t you see? That much is lost in exchange for the new.

Do you remember your crawling? How difficult it was? But now that you walk, well, whence did that come?

Do you remember your talking? Still now you improve, but does it not take time? Several years without stop!”

“But I have to do these things. I didn’t choose to want to walk or talk.”

“And so the leader says too, his soul bearing his own lot.”

— 
 He weathered the storms and made it onto land. But the rest of it still, we have not much at hand.

Some say he met gypsies, or fairies, or only land. Others say he went crazy upon seeing the sand.

Many years later his body was found decayed and of dust, and next to it a journal, that was quite tightly bound.

A note read on top –“Plans for Civilization” and unbounded inside, the pitfalls he’d learned, the failures discerned, the way to success: a civilization, he’s sure!

A note inside, a personal thought, reading “Carry on, carry on, an army of one.”

Fighting for what cause?
 But none whispered his family and friends. Only his own greed, this was understood at once.

But, “Carry on, carry on, an army of one.”

Fighting for what cause?
 He left what he needed to get across. “Plans for Civilization,” but he had no pleasant thoughts.

— 
 By now you know the story, his plan was followed well. And now we sit in houses, with plenty for ourselves.

His name was marked upon statues, his deeds told to all. But should you ask him if he won, then he certainly would have no recollection of this one.

People, my dear, a fickle lot –and what he gave to see this plot, that what he bore was seldom thought, during his time, as worthy of what?

Ah, how many would have erred and chose the serpent’s plot. With quick and painless death awaits, with fame that’s eternalized, why not?

A hero’s course over a leader’s nest. Is that what we choose with our best?

The hero walks a path and in the end is remembered for his task.

The leader looks for home and gives birth to new that must later hatch.

But do we credit new? As we credit courage for the past? It seems to me this too, is something that must pass.


Originally published at willgu29.com on September 5, 2017.