Rapconteur

by Baba Brinkman

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09:58
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09:37
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07:39
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07:54

about

Original storytelling album produced by Mr. Simmonds. Gilgamesh, Beowulf, and Merchant's Tale were remixed and updated in the more recent "Canterbury Tales Remixed" album.

credits

released 15 July 2010

All Tracks Produced, Mixed, and Mastered by Mr. Simmonds

Gilgamesh
(D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds)
Ney: Niri Sadeh
Clarinet: Koby Israelite
Piano: Simon Kendall
Wikipedia: Epic of Gilgamesh

Merchant's Tale
(D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds)
Additional Keys: Simon Kendall
Wikipedia: Merchant's Tale

Kalevala
(D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds)
Additional Vocals: Noa Bodner
Additional Keys: Simon Kendall
Wikipedia: Kalevala

Mosquito
(D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds)
Wikipedia: The Raven

Beowulf
(D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds)
Additional Vocals: Noa Bodner
Wikipedia: Beowulf

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Track Name: Gilgamesh
Run your fingers over the stones of this ancient city
These temples of worship and places of business
And picture them falling into desolation
Just drifting sand and standing walls and vacant buildings
You can’t take it with you where you’re going
But someone who comes here in five thousand years
Exploring might unearth a recording
That tells the world your story
Some confabulation of words stored in a subterranean
Purgatory could well emerge to tell those
Who still dwell on earth that you were born
And that your works were worth reporting
Well this is the first story; not the oldest
Told by troubadours, but the oldest in written form
‘Cause who can say whether troubadours don’t improve
Their sources, of course the origins of the story are oral
But it was preserved for thousands of years
In Akkadian verse tablets and Sumerian cuneiform
Preserved like Cuban cigars in a humidor
So we can be sure that it’s true to its source
Not a folk story transformed in ten thousand villages
But a relic of the ancient world, preserved with diligence
The oldest narrative that still exists
The epic of Gilgamesh

When the gods created Gilgamesh they gave him a perfect body
Like Arnie when his films were still impressive
Like Conan the Barbarian, physical brilliance
Like sculpted steel as flesh
The gods endowed him with strength and courage and fine
Features; in terms of appearance he was the first in line
Brad Pitt would have looked liked a turd beside him
He was one third mortal, and two thirds divine
And as an aside, I guess the Sumerians when this poem was written
Were not aware of chromosome division
Or Mendellian genetics; no organism
That reproduces sexually is two-thirds of anything
Maybe they calculated paternity as a percentage
Of the number of men that the mother had been with before she got pregnant
Which is the case with certain indigenous South American Indians
Increasing the incentive for the men to collaborate on parental investment
But when the gods are involved these calculations are irrelevant
Because they’re practically omnipotent
And Gilgamesh was a mortal man with two-thirds god genes
In the Sumerian catalogue of kings
He’s listed as the fifth ruler of Uruk after the flood came
And washed away all things
So our story begins with Gilgamesh in charge of the peace
And the people of Uruk, not pleased

And why were they less than pleased?
Because Gilgamesh was an extreme sex fiend
To put it simply, he deflowered every virgin
And slept with the wife of every peasant and the daughter
Of every nobleman whenever he felt the urge and
For the people of Uruk, this was a heavy burden
In fact, the original version only says
That the men found it a heavy burden
Which begs the question: was the consent of these women earned
Or did he just take it?
My inclination is to stay with the basics
Nowhere is he referred to as Gilgamesh the rapist
Which means he had game and the men were jealous haters
But don’t these questions always plague men of status
Was he Bill Clinton-esque or Tiger Woods with a waitress?
Or was he Roman Polanski or Mike Tyson dangerous?
I can’t possibly say from these ancient pages
But I’d prefer to work with a sympathetic protagonist
So in my version, he gets the benefit of the doubt
Gilgamesh impressed the women with his physical prowess
But his sexual endowments were hateful to his people
So they huddled in their houses and prayed for relief
To the gods, like “Please, make him an equal!”
And the gods heard their pleas, and created Enkidu

Enkidu was a wild man
Tarzan of the highlands
His body was covered in hair in fine mats
He knew nothing of civilization and finance
A feral child, he ran with the Ibex
And ate nothing but plants, plus he was massive
He had this habit of releasing animals from traps
And snares whenever they got captured
And eventually one of the trappers ran back to
The city to ask Gilgamesh for some answers
He said: “There is this massive hairy man
Who keeps smashing the traps we set in mountain pastures
He’s either half-animal, or he’s an animal rights activist
But either way I’m at my wits’ end, any suggestions?
And Gilgamesh said “Here’s what you do
You go to Ishtar’s temple and you get a prostitute”
Now, Ishtar was the Goddess of love, and destruction too
And her priestesses offered free sex to the multitude
Maybe religion is something even Christopher Hitchens
Could’ve gotten into if that’s what it offered you
So Gilgamesh said, “Yeah, you get this temple ho
This child of pleasure, and you get her to go with you
Down to the watering hole, and you get her to take off her clothes
And this wild man, well, he won’t be wild no mo…”

Whoah, forgive the ebonic
Inflections, but I just always wanted
To use the word “ho” in an epic
Anyway, it happened exactly as Gilgamesh predicted
Enkidu came down to the lake to take a drink
And he saw this beautiful, soft, naked being
This succulent, supple lady, and she
Embraced him and… shwing!
For six days and seven nights they lay by the lakeside
Insatiably shagging, and it was his first time!
But after when he tried to go back to his animal friends
They just looked at him and fled
Innocence lost
Enkidu’s intimate frolics with the temple harlot
Had cost him his connection with nature – never again
Would his animal friends accept him as one of them
And from that day forward he was civilized
The prostitute fed him bread and wine
And said “Enkidu, you are wise, why sleep in the wild
When there’s shelter nearby?” And she took his hand
And led him like a child to the shepherds’ tent
And bade him step inside and she clothed and bathed him
And he stayed with the shepherds for a stretch of time
And protected them from lions

Enkidu stayed with the shepherds for a while but soon
Word arrived from the city that there was a wedding
And Gilgamesh was claiming his birthright
The privilege of “First Night”
That is, the right to be the first to fertilize
The bride on her wedding night
Just like the English did to the Scottish before 1305
When William Wallace kicked their asses, which served them right
Well, the Sumerian groom was also quite perturbed by
This incursion into his personal life
And when Enkidu heard about this, he turned white
With anger and traveled to Uruk, determined to fight
The bridal bed was made; a virgin lay within it
A trembling, nervous babe
As Gilgamesh approached the house, determined to get laid
But Enkidu stepped in front of him and blocked his way
Clash of the Titans
Their grasps were like vice grips as they grappled and tightened
Their massive biceps, striving like angry bisons
Each man trying to gain the upper hand on his rival
It was a wrestling match that cracked the keystones
In the walls of Uruk and shook the ziggurats
And the foundations of peoples’ homes
But in the end, Enkidu was thrown

He paid his respects to Gilgamesh for besting him
And Gilgamesh was impressed that someone had even tested him
Because every man he’d ever met until then was estrogen
And from then on he treated Enkidu like his next of kin
Now, Gilgamesh was obsessed with legacy building
He wanted his name to be etched on bricks
And listed where the names of famous men are written
So they embarked on a campaign of adventurism
They traveled to the Lebanese hills
To the cedar forest where they cut down trees
And defeated the “evil” demon guardian
The protector of those sweet resources
Everyone tried to warn them off this quest
They said: “Don’t go! The demon’s jaws are death
When he says humbaba, humbaba, hum-humbaba
It’s like he has napalm for breath
But no one could convince them to stop
Because Gilgamesh believed that he was on a mission from God
And when they reached the demon, his defenses were weak
They overpowered him easily and he fell to his knees
Pleading like a refugee, like a fugitive
In a spider hole, begging for his life
But they were icy cold, they executed him
With three precise blows and turn their eyes towards home

Other adventures awaited, Ishtar tried to
Seduce Gilgamesh by offering herself to him naked
But he rejected her and she flew into a jealous rage
Full of indignation, determined to take veangence
She released the Bull of Heaven, a personified drought
Which they defeated with a sword strike, somehow
But Gilgamesh was really swelling with pride now
So the gods said; “Time to take this guy down”
They took the side route; they knew that Enkidu was
His Achilles heel, because he was the key to his
Feelings, so the gods decreed that Enkidu would
Soon cease to exist, and he fell into a deep sickness
And had a feverish dream vision of life after death
In which he was a feathered wretch, sitting in pitch
Darkness, staring ahead at an endless stretch
Of time, and he cursed everyone he’d ever met
Since he left the wilderness, the prostitute, the trapper,
Everyone except for Gilgamesh
Who stood by his side singing a death lament
Until Enkidu’s final breath was spent
For the rest of this story
Gilgamesh is an emotional wreck in a state of perpetual mourning
On a desperate quest to make his flesh immortal
And it’s interesting, but it isn’t worth reporting

It’s fragmented and repetitive and it never really finishes
Although it does contain a fascinating parallel with Genesis
Suffice to say, immortality eluded him
And he returned to Uruk in a state of disillusionment
And lived out his life just like the rest of us do
By having children and making civic improvements
So he didn’t live forever, but he did leave descendents
Which means his genes probably make up one tenth of one tenth
Of one percent of one hundred thousand Middle Eastern residents
But this form of immortality is just divisive
And he left us his story, the Epic of Gilgamesh
Which he chiseled into the walls of his city while building it
And it tells us that this human obsession with living forever in
The face of certain death is something we’ve always wrestled with
Which tells us something about what it is to be human
If immortality exists, then I guess you’re listening to it
Track Name: Merchant's Tale
It’s the story of a rich old man, January
He’s still a bachelor at sixty, but now he plans to marry
And he’s looking for a beautiful young wife
Which is an option for rich old geezers sometimes
See, January was one of those “secularists”
Which means he had no control over his sexual urges
He couldn’t say which was better, gettin’ laid or gettin’ paid
He just knew when he was gettin’ one, the other would get away
But then he changed, whether from religious sensibility
Or whether he just got thick-headed from senility
I can’t say, but suddenly he wanted it
January became a dedicated monogamist
Instead of a misogynist, treating women like objects
It’s funny how our attitudes change with our prospects
Yeah, marriage is a beautiful thing
Especially for those who are too old to swing
That’s when it’s nice to just stay home with your wife
Instead of chasing waterfalls, ‘cause it’s cold outside
Take my advice, all you bachelor men
If you want love and happiness and companionship
You need a wife, a woman who will never be impatient
No more rejection and constant humiliation
Or anyway, that’s what January would say
Once he decided he was ready for his wedding day
So he asked his friends to help him find somebody
And said “Guys, just try to make sure she’s under twenty
I want sex appeal, not a tough old cow
I want some tender veal, instead of know-how
I want a woman I can mold right now with my own hands
Not a pre-fab thirty-year-old, I want some warm wax
Well, soon a young girl caught his fancy
And he said he had to have her if he wanted to be happy
And I’ll skip the details of how they got engaged
Except just to say: rich men get the females
The girl that he chose was named May
A pretty eighteen-year-old with a baby face
And when the wedding day came, the pairing was gorgeous
They looked like Calista Flockhart and Harrison Ford
If Calista was more like Miley Cyrus’ age
Yeah, everyone agreed that the bride was a babe
And January just watched her with lust in his eyes
And all he really wanted was to bust in her thighs
But first he had to get through the vows and feast
And the speeches, while suppressing his eagerness
But when the last guest in the villa went home
He took his bride to bed – she lay as still as a stone
As he caressed her, and said “Sorry I have to hurt you
But the church say sex within marriage is a virtue
And now that we’re husband and wife
I can make tonight last as long as I like”
And in spite of his age, January stayed solid
And several long hours of unpleasantness followed
And in the morning, instead of passing out
He sat up in bed singing and laughing out loud
And she just watched him, like “Ew, he’s crazy old!
The wrinkles on his neck look like the skin of a baby mole!”
And so on, and January singin’ his verses
With his wife lying next to him, thinkin’ he’s worthless
So we’ll just leave May in bed with her disappointment
And I’ll talk about the fly in the ointment
January had an assistant named Damian
He was at the wedding, yeah, he was one of his favorites
But Damian couldn’t even enjoy the day
Because Damian had eyes only for May
But he knew he couldn’t tell her ‘cause his boss was jealous
And January had sway like the Rockafellers
So he thought to himself that the sure way to get her
Was to write the girl a note, oh yes, a love letter
When he finished the note, like a sneaky sneak
Damian hid it somewhere she would find it secretly
And he signed his name to it, he was takin’ his chances
‘Cause a young man’s likelihood of mating advances
By takin’ risks – that’s how human nature is
‘Cause the girls love a guy if he’s dangerous
And when May found the note, she read it and smiled
‘Cause he was kinda sweet, plus it was written with style
And it said: “PS – I’m dead if you tell your husband”
So she ripped it into fifty little pieces and flushed it
Well after that things changed
Damian and May played the winking game
But they couldn’t follow through ‘cause there was a jealous guy
In the mix – January kept a watchful eye
On his chick, and the months passed by
But January was old – he was slowly going blind
Which was increasing Damian’s chance of penetration
Thank goodness for advanced macular degeneration
And if January was jealous before
Well, his blindness amplified it just a little bit more
He was so afraid to find his wife in a tryst
That he kept one hand at all times on her wrist
With no exceptions, not even for toilet breaks
While she peed he would hover beside her like a coiled snake
Guarding its eggs, but his problem wasn’t solved
'Cause her lack of freedom just increased her resolve
And pretty soon, opportunity knocked
‘Cause January liked to take afternoon walks
In the garden, holding May by the elbow
He didn’t trust her for a second on her own, hell no!
The garden was surrounded by a wall with a locked gate
He wanted privacy to exercise his prostate
With May when he pleased in a grove of trees
And a chain around his neck held the only key
But January slept like a corpse after strolls
So May copied the key in a warm wax mold
When he was passed out, and passed it out the window
To Damian, along with a note containing info
On what he should do, how long he should take
When he should enter the garden gate, and where he should wait
And he obeyed, Damian did what he was told
A guy’s gotta roll with it when a woman’s in control
Of his fate, and the very next day
January awoke with the sun on his face
He couldn’t see it but he knew it was a beautiful day
So he said: “Let’s take a walk in the garden May”
She said “Okay” and dutifully walked beside him
And when they passed through the gate, he locked it behind them
And said “Now there’s no one here but you and me woman”
But Damian was there, she could see him but he couldn’t
He was sitting in a tree according to plan
And as she walked with her husband she was holding his hand
And saying “Babe, I don’t get it, why don’t you trust me more?
The way you treat me you must think I’m nothing but a whore
Always holding my arm, it’s like you expect me
To fuck somebody different every second if you let me
We made a solemn vow to be faithful to each other
Through the good and the bad, and always stay together
But for real, if you’re with me every second it’s no party
And January said “Aw, May baby, I’m so sorry
I wish I didn’t have to watch you every second
Like a chicken hawk – it’s just these jealous thoughts!
Ever since I lost my ability to see
All I think about is other men humiliating me
So I have to keep my property under lock and key
And that includes you, my love, obviously
I wanna set you free, but I’m afraid of human nature
By keeping you with me I’m saving you from temptation
And May said, “Oh well, I guess that’s fair
Ooh, look up in that tree, such delicious pears!
Oh please let me climb up and pick some for us to eat
You can guard the base of the tree if you don’t trust me”
And he was kinda hungry, so he held the tree’s base
And said “Okay, but don’t tell me you never get free space”
And for the sensitive folk, please forgive my bluntness
But Damian just lifted up her skirts and thrust in
May and Damian, sitting in a tree
F-U-C-K-I-N-G
Like a couple of animals, with May’s jealous husband
Obliviously guarding the trunk of it down below
Now it’s time for a sublime suspension
Of disbelief, ‘cause here comes divine intervention
The ancient Roman gods, Pluto and Persephone
Happened to be watching from above, and commenced a heated
Argument about who was in the right
The jealous old husband or the adulterous wife
She said “Pluto, why you gotta be so hard on us
Why you swear all women are so scandalous?
Just look at how he treats her; she’s practically on a leash
This guy deserves to get cheated on, honestly”
And for his reply, Pluto quoted the poet Ovid
And said “Bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks
No wonder he’s jealous, just look at this little slut
She’d climb in a tree just like a monkey to get some nuts
In fact, fuck that, I’ll give him his sight back
And she’ll get caught in the act, yeah, we’ll see how she likes that
And I’ll give every man the gift of suspicion
Like a weapon to keep an eye on their scandalous woman”
And Persephone said “Fine, if you give him his sight back
And make men suspicious, then I’ll give women a gift to fight back
If your gift to men is to make them jealous twits
Then my gift to women is the gift of deceptiveness
The gift of sweet words and deflection and flattery
Everything they need to keep their men from reality”
Isn’t it strange that the gifts the gods gave
Sound like the product of an evolutionary arms race
So that if anyone was randomly born with an advantage
In the battle of the sexes then they’d leave more descendents
On average… Ah forget it, call it a divine gift
And we’ll go back to the story of January’s blindness
Which evaporated miraculously
And he looked at his hands like “God damn! I can see!
I can see… My wife up in a tree?!?
With a man… Fucking in the canopy!?!”
And May instantly climbed down
While Damian crouched behind some branches to hide himself
She said “Oh, thank god it worked!
When I first heard about it, I thought it was the oddest cure!”
“Cure?!?” he said “But you were bent over a branch
With a man…” She said “No, that was an interpretive dance”
“There was a man, but he’s gone now, see?
No man in the tree; it’s just you and me
And you can see, so you shouldn’t be angry
I just gave you back your vision, you should thank me
It’s a new form of alternative therapy
You do an interpretive dance with a man up in a pear tree
And it acts as a homeopathic cure for blindness
It’s based on the latest in quantum science!”
“But I saw your dress pulled up to your chest”
He said, “and there was thrusting and exposed flesh”
And she said “Look, you know how you can’t trust your sight
First thing in the morning until you adjust to the light, right?
Well, come on, you’ve been utterly blind
For months; darling, you probably just have rusty eyes
And besides, didn’t you just say that
You had visions in your head of being humiliated
So how do you know that it wasn’t one of those
I mean, there’s nothing we see that the mind doesn’t control
So it isn’t shameful if you hallucinate
But you have your vision back! Aw baby, that’s super great!”
And January didn’t really wanna fight
With his wife, and he was pretty happy for his sight
So he said “Okay, baby, maybe I was wrong”
And he believed it too; he wasn’t just playing along
And they headed home together, walking hand in hand
The model relationship between woman and man
Track Name: Kalevala
In Kalevala the main man's name was Väinämöinen
His fame was growing in the creation of strange noises
He trained his voice mainly for the sake of enjoyment
And sang poignant verses without gainful employment
Väinämöinen could spin a phrase in a way that venerates
The first generation of men, in a wave
Of inspiration that creates a sense of inner faith
In the Finnish nation in the days when this sinful age
Of impatient whims begins to blaze like a burning house
And just like "murder will out", his verbal clout
Was heard about through word of mouth
From up North down to dirty South

Now the young Joukahainen heard of Väinämöinen's fame
And became jealous, 'cause he was newly trained in
The same verbal games, and really, who could blame him?
The fire of youth burned like a blue flame in Joukahainen
Who decided to arrange a duel to attain an
Even greater name than Väinämöinen, who was ancient
Joukahainen's parents rebuked and forbade him
To leave, but their pleas didn't do much to faze him
Joukahainen amazed them and brazenly boasted
"I know you both say that it's crazy and hopeless
But hey, I'm not afraid to get roasted
In this day and age the best way to get noticed
Is to take the most famous poet's name and expose it
As lame; Väinämöinen's a vain, inflated vocalist
So I'll take his inflated vocal vein and explode it
And someday I'll be praised, celebrated and toasted"

And without wasting a moment, Joukahainen departed
For Kalevala, the home of Väinämöinen, his target
And, far from feint-hearted, for three days he charted
His way at a hard pace and came to the unguarded
Gates of the garden of Kalevala at last
But he wasn’t paying attention to the road, and he crashed
Into Väinämöinen, who was traveling on the same path
Like two locomotives head to head on train tracks

Before Joukahainen even had his strength back
Väinämöinen blasted him and gave him flack
And asked him for his name and to explain the crash
And he answered plain, "I'm the young Joukahainen
And I heard there's a vacant-headed, gum-toothed vagrant
With a reputation here, so I've come to defame him"

Väinämöinen remained cool in the face of these rude statements
Like a true statesman, and smoothly replied
"I'm in no mood to be crucified
For the sake of stupid pride, boy, so move aside"
But Joukahainen viewed this a shrewdly disguised
Attempt to neutralize his youthful stride
And he refused to buy it: "Why should I move aside?
I suggest we duel to decide who can best utilize
Words, with verses verbally beautified
To decide the dispute, and let the loser move aside"
Väinämöinen sighed, "'Verbally beautified?'
You certain deserve to be verbally brutalized
Since you devised this war of words
To satisfy your thirst to divide orators
For sport; all right, fine, you're first
Let’s see what you got”

Joukahainen's verse went like this: "My knowledge is deep
I polish speech to demolish the weak
When I listen to politicians' policies I fall asleep
All in all I'd rather follow an ecologist's lead
And listen to the swishin' of fish in the lawless seas
My vision is flawless, even in the bottomless breach
I see what the walrus sees, and feed on mollusc meat
In the halls of seaweed the narwhal acknowledges me
I perceive the raw qualities of all I can see
From the beak of the bald eagle at the peak of the tallest tree
To the niche of the swallow that swallows the smallest seed
It all follows the pull of the dog-eat-dog creed
And if you can not compete then you're obsolete
So why not concede defeat and leave Kalevala to me?"

Väinämöinen scoffed, "These are all falsities
If your 'knowledge is deep' then it's hollow indeed
All I see is a wallow of bottomless greed
That colours your speech like a black shadow
As your words crash and rattle; you asked for this battle
So get off the path if that's the last of your babble"
But Joukahainen hadn't traveled this far to get dismissed
And his next verse reflected his desperate recklessness

He said, "I know you're locally respected – great
But it doesn't take much to see you're just a fake
Like snow, I'm an avalanche; you're just a flake
You get money like a church: in a collection plate
I'm destined to get paid, while you're destined to beg
Like a drug-addicted veteran with a prosthetic leg
Allow me to demonstrate why youth is better than age
I collect wages while your memories fade
Intellectually I gaze on unlimited space
While you're afraid and inhibited; you live in a cave
This place is too big for you; it's a pitiful waste
You should just give it away and start diggin' a grave"

In the face of this insolent rage, Väinämöinen's
Patience and poise turned to plain annoyance
He said, "Trust me boy, your lust for fame is poison
What's the point of making poems when you can't enjoy them?
And what's the point of entertaining when you've got the lame voice
Of a teenaged boy, who came to join in
The game just to make noise and be a pain, showing an
Absolute disdain for the ancients, going in
The face of their ways and the dues paid and owing them?"
Now, Joukahainen was growing impatient and sour
From humiliation and shame, 'cause he'd wasted his power
And been laid naked in the space of an hour
So he tried to save face with the grace of a coward
"Okay, I don't have the tricks to match wits with a lord
So I guess I'll just have to ask my fists for support
And strike a dissonant chord with the tip of a sword!
Besides, violence is a more difficult sport
So keep your piss-poor lyrics 'cause now this is a war!"

But Väinämöinen had heard this before, and in spite
Of his magnanimous nature he couldn't stand to bite
His tongue, or dirty his hands in a fight
So his adrenaline ran, and he began to recite
Lu-e-kamme kasi katehen
Sormet sormien lomahan
And the land was transformed; the lake covered with waves
Rocks cut away from cliffs as they started to break
The sound made the ground beneath shudder and shake
And the mountains rumbled, as if under the plates
Lay a powerful thundercloud with a stomachache
Joukahainen was afraid and he tried to run away
But he suddenly felt a heavy weight on his legs
And in less than a minute a lake fit for drinking
Became a gray swamp with dead fish in it, stinking
And in the end when Väinämöinen was finished singing
Joukahainen found himself stuck in it, sinking

Then his courage began shrinking and caving in
And he started whimpering, thinking of nothing but saving his skin
As arrogant and brave as he'd been to begin with
Joukahainen now found he had to placate his nemesis
Since he was in a quick-mud pit with limited
Options; the stuff was too thick to swim in it
He said, "I may have been a bit of a rude bastard
Too fast to challenge the skills of a true master
But you have to forgive me; I was enthusiastic
But all I wanted to do was be like you, that's it
Please don't let drown in this nasty ooze casket!"

And Väinämöinen laughed, "Ooh, that's too bad kid
But you have to admit, you did ask for it
And now you're desperate, beggin' me to set you free
I guess my question is, what's in it for me?"
And Joukahainen started offering up guns and tools
Horses and mules, plots of land, money and jewels
As his body sank deeper under the mud of the pool
But Väinämöinen wasn't moved by these petty concessions
'Cause he never had any use for pretty new possessions
And Joukahainen knew he would never get assistance
Unless he was ready to give something really precious
As he felt the wet caresses of swamp water
On his neck, with his last breath he made a strong offer

He said, "My father was blessed with one daughter
And he taught her to cook and clean and do chores
And I promise you, if you want her, she's yours
I'm sure she'd rather marry you than see me a corpse
Just get me out of this horrid green porridge!"
And Väinämöinen smiled, utterly delighted
And recited a verse, and Joukahainen glided out of the swamp
And alighted on the shore, and Väinämöinen warmly invited
Him to visit, once he and the boy's sister were united

Joukahainen returned home, ashamed and embarrassed
And announced to his parents his sister's arranged marriage
And his sister complained in badly-strained spirits
Like, "Väinämöinen was old and had a strange appearance"
But Joukahainen's mother just congratulated her
For finding a man greater than the saps who dated her
She said, "Väinämöinen is famous and has a way with words
And besides, look at your father and I, we made it work"
But Joukahainen’s sister did not marry Väinämöinen
She turned into a fish, but that’s another story
Track Name: Mosquito
Once upon a noontime dreary, while I rested, weak and weary,
Half the day was done and hunger pains had won me o’er.
In a truck I sat while eating, with my stomach still entreating
Me to eat my fill, depleting all the food I had in store.
“I’d best save something yet,” I thought, “and not eat all I have in store,
For later I may hunger more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember, ‘twas six months since last December,
And now summer’s radiant ember left few shadows to explore.
Vainly I had sought to borrow from hard work surcease of sorrow,
Knowing well that no tomorrow resurrects the day before.
Nor can any year to come return to me the year before,
A memory now, forevermore.

Then this silken, sad, uncertain sound closed round me like a curtain;
It thrilled me, filled me with an angst I’d felt a thousand times before,
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I sat repeating,
“‘Tis some insect bent on eating of my blood and nothing more,
Some small starving insect, merely one of countless thousands more.”
And at that, I shut the door.

Presently, my soul grew stronger; fearing the insect then no longer,
“Mosquito,” said I, “or black fly, truly your forgiveness I implore,
But the fact is I was eating, and was startled by your greeting,
And no doubt sent you retreating from the slamming of my door.
Enter now though, you are welcome.” Here I opened wide the door;
Silence there, and nothing more.

Far into that silence listening, fearing, perspiration glistening,
Doubting, awakening to anxieties I had never felt before.
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And my thoughts, though still unspoken, hastened to the year before,
It was a year of pure enjoyment all too fleeting to endure
Unrivalled yet, and evermore

Thus I then returned to eating, as my unease was fast and fleeting,
I turned my intent unto an apple and soon ate it to the core.
Then to dispose that core I threw it, caring little what or who it
Struck upon its course, though to it glancing, up and out the door;
And there hovered a Mosquito just outside the crew-cab door,
Hovered there, and nothing more.

Startled then and struck by panic, I reached out and with a manic
Motion, closed my hand around the handle and drew shut the open door,
But my effort was not heeded, for the insect, unimpeded,
Flew into the truck and speeded to the handle of the door,
And there it perched upon the handle of my foreman’s crew-cab door,
Perched and sat, and nothing more.

This Mosquito then was steering my sad fancy into sneering
By its nature and intent and by the countenance it wore.
So I said, “Though you’ve gained entry, surely I’m no royal sentry,
Admitting only insect gentry through this stately crew-cab door.
Tell me what thy lordly name is, that thou dare disturb my door.”
Quoth the Mosquito, “Nevermore.”

Much I marveled this ungainly bug to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning, little relevancy bore.
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing on the handle of a door,
Bug or beast upon the handle of his foreman’s crew-cab door,
With such a name as “Nevermore.”

But the Mosquito, sitting lonely on that handle, uttered only
That one word, as if its soul in that one word did it outpour.
Nothing further then it uttered, not a wing it flicked or fluttered,
‘Til I scarcely more than muttered, “Other times have flown before,
In a moment it will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bug said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “What it utters is its only stock and store,
Found through some freakish mutation, or perhaps hallucination
Or my mad imagination conjured up that ‘Nevermore.’”
My reason dared me to discover how I heard that ‘Nevermore.’
My sanity this burden bore.

But no answer still was given, and as I was fixed and driven,
I puzzled further at the nature of this insect on my door.
Farther then from reason sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy into fancy, thinking what this insect on my door,
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous insect on my door
Meant in saying, “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To that bug whose beady eyes now burned into my bosom’s core.
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the head-rest’s plastic lining, and as they had moments before,
My fancied thoughts soon wandered back to that elated year before,
Which would return, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, as my excited nerves grew tenser,
As in my mind I cultured malice for that insect on my door.
“Wretch!” I spat, “What God has made thee? What silver coin the devil paid thee?
Get thee from my sight and fade thee, like my memories of before!
Take with thee this crippled quandary and forget the year before!”
Quoth the Mosquito, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “Thing of evil! Prophet still, if bug or devil!
Whether tempter sent or whether coughed up from this clear-cut’s core,
Desolate yet all undaunted, in this forest-land enchanted,
In this truck by horror haunted, tell me truly I implore,
Will that year ever return? Tell me, tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Mosquito, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “Thing of evil! Prophet still, if bug or devil!
By this nature all around us, the only god we both adore,
Tell this soul replete with sorrow if upon another morrow
I will be able to borrow bliss from memories of before,
Memories of that rare and radiant, lovely, lost, and thus lamented year before.
Quoth the Mosquito, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bug or fiend!” I shrieked upstarting;
“Get thee back into the wreckage of this tortured clear-cut’s core!
Leave no red welt as a token of the lie thy soul has spoken,
Leave my loneliness unbroken! Quit the handle of my door!
Take thy proboscis from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!
Quoth the Mosquito, “Nevermore.”

And the Mosquito, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the lustrous chrome handle of my foreman’s crew-cab door,
And its eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the sunlight o’er it streaming throws its shadow on the floor.
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor,
Shall be lifted – nevermore.
Track Name: Beowulf
Yo, listen up, I wanna say some things
About the days of ancient Danish kings
One of the first was a foundling
Who flourished called Shield Shaefing
Whose great grandson Hrothgar
Was in charge of the Danes when this tale is told
The tale of a mead hall harrowed
By a terror, and a hero called Beowulf
A massive mead hall – Heorot
Hrothgar had it built
And after he filled it with dancing and drinking
And laughter and singing, happy people
Yeah, but that was brief though
There was a monster prowling on the moors
Grendel, and for him the sound
Of carousing was just an obnoxious roar
Now Grendel’s been called a fiend
Cursed by God, a powerful demon
Yeah, lots of awful things,
And it’s true that the works that he wrought were fiendish
But these were superstitious folk,
And yes, I mean both the Christian poet
And the old pagan text he re-wrote
Grendel’s flesh was physical
Now I’ve heard some outlandish conjectures
From critics about how Grendel’s cannibalism
Was essentially different from the psychopathic
Pleasures of a man like Hannibal Lecter
One theory goes that he was the last
Of a band of Neanderthal wretches
Another says that he was an apparition
The province of psychoanalysis
Yeah, rabid secularists like me
Wanna cut to the heart of a story
Maybe he had some deformity
In his eardrums, now that would be parsimony
It doesn’t matter – you know as well
As I do that there’s no hell
No gods, no demons, no elves
Delivering gifts on Noel
And I say “Oh well”
So what if Grendel’s nature isn’t clear-cut?
All that matters here is the level
Of fear that he brought to Heorot
They say at night he snuck in
Greedy and grim, and murdered thirty men
But even if it was just three men
Would he be any less of a demon?
Grendel left the Spear-Danes screamin’
And they couldn’t even deal him a cut
He just killed when he wanted and spilled so much blood
That it left a bit of a chill on their fun
So they prayed to their pagan gods for relief
If only they had Jesus!
If only they knew what we know now
How Jesus comes to your aid when he’s needed!
Forgive me for being facetious
It’s just that divine intervention
Was just as non-existent then
As now as a help in a time of oppression
What happened instead was
That word spread to the seven seas
To the friends and enemies of the Danes
That Hrothgar’s hall stood empty
And it spread to the Geats, to Sweden
To the land of Beowulf
And him and his men donned their chain-mail coats
And sailed for the Danish coast
And it wasn’t long before they stood
Sea-swept, and rain-soaked
In Hrothgar’s great mead hall
And there Beowulf made his famous boast
He said: “Anyone who’s ever seen me fight
Knows that I’ve never been the type to back down
I’ve suffered extremes defending the Geats
And I’ve never had a match ‘til now
But I’ve heard there’s a fiend in your land
A demon who has no fear of reprisal
Who creeps in the night and eats you alive
And threatens your mere survival
So here’s my boast: I’ve heard it said
That Grendel fights with no weapons
So I’ll go toe to toe with no sword in my hand
And no shield by my side for protection
Yeah, hand-to-hand combat!
Just me and the fiend in a fight to the death
And if Grendel wins
Well then best believe he’ll be feeding tonight on my flesh!”
Well, Hrothgrar was quite impressed
With the strong words of this conqueror
And he ordered a feast to be served to the Geats
And the mead hall was soon full of drunkards
But their comforts were soon disturbed
By a servant of the king called Unferth
A weaselly little flea who was eager to see
Beowulf’s pride get punctured
“What vanity!” he cried to the crowd
“This man lives in a fantasy
If he thinks he can defeat
Such a powerful enemy single-handedly
His accomplishments are nothing
But narcissistic non-existent nonsense
How can you defeat a monster when you even lost to
Your friend Breca in a swimming contest?”
But Beowulf wasn’t nonplussed
By this obnoxious onslaught, naw
He said: “You’s a flea, and I’m the big dawg
I scratch you off my balls with my muthafuckin’ paws
Besides, bitch, your information is wrong,
I beat Breca and cut off the python
Tentacles of every muthafuckin’ leviathan
That tried it on up in that quiet storm
And anyway
If you had any skill
Then Grendel couldn’t kill all your men
And still go back to his den at the end and chill!”
After that, Unferth, basically
Well, he just shut the fuck up
Maybe because of Beowulf’s
Gratuitous use of the word “muthafucka”
Yeah, it’s offensive language
But come on, this is Anglo-Saxon
You can’t expect manners
From men of action, nah, that’s a plain distraction
After his word-clash with Unferth
Beowulf went back to the feast
And kept on boasting out loud
About how he was gonna tackle the beast
And then Hrothgar went to bed
And left the guard to Beowulf and the rest of the Geats
And the fires burned low
And the mead hall was soon fast asleep
And that’s when the shadow stalker
Grendel, came greedily loping
Down from the mountain and out of the mist
‘Cause he could smell fresh human meat for the gulping
And the mead-hall was dozing
Every single person in the place was unconscious
Except for Beowulf
Who lay awake in the darkness waiting for the monster
The hall was erected as a fortress
But Grendel just smashed the doors in
With his massive hands and grabbed the first warrior
In sight and viciously slashed and gored him
Mmm, the taste of his flesh was gorgeous
And Grendel was ready for more, just
Itching to turn the rest of these poor
Wretches into a pile of dismembered corpses
So he moved like a phantom
Over to the next man’s form on the floor
But that’s when he felt a strong hand
Clamp on to his wrist and twist back his arm
Then Grendel felt a kind of pain
That he never in his life had to contemplate
Squeezed! Like by an anaconda snake
And only one thought in his mind: don’t fight, run away!
But he was boa constricted
Beowulf had him in a death-grip
I mean, you know how much pain is inflicted
Right? When your arm gets twisted?
Well the intended victim was the predator now
And the hall filled with the most pitiful sound
This long, drawn-out, desperate howl
Like: “Aaaaooooooowww!”
And Geat warriors surrounded Grendel
With their swords drawn and tried to stab him
But none of them could get a blow past him
So they swore that his skin was enchanted
But some form of spell-casting
So that no physical weapon could scratch him
But what do you think the chances are
That they just chickened out and called it magic?
I mean, it does sound like one of those embellishments
Invented by storytellers just
To make Beowulf’s belligerence
And bellicose rhetoric sound like prescience
Yeah, so his men were ineffective
But Grendel’s howls were blended
Now with the sickening sound of ligaments
Twisting out of position and ripping tendons
Ow! Then his limb disconnected
And Grendel ran back out into the mist
And Beowulf raised the severed arm aloft
Still held in his fist
And the Geat warriors gathered ‘round
Eager to see the demon flesh
And they all agreed that, yes
Grendel was soon gonna bleed to death
Then they mounted the arm as a trophy
On the wall to inspire their fire-side boasting
And the troubadours immortalized
Beowulf’s heroic deeds in their poetry
And I wish I could end this scene
With the Danes and Geats on easy street
But heroes fight demons in threes
So, enter Angelina Jolie
As Grendel’s mother, a feminine killer
With collagen lips and swollen breasts-s-s
And when Beowulf confronted her
All he really wanted was sex
God damn it Robert Zemeckis
Your Hollywood epic with all of it
Marketing methods is confounding
My honest efforts to keep this poem authentic!
It’s pathetic! All I see when I picture
Grendel’s mother, instead of a hideous monster
Is Crispin Glover caressing his digitally-rendered
Mom like an incestuous lover
And I’ll never recover, so forget it!
If you want to know her actual facial features
Ask your twelfth-grade teachers, or college professors
They’re the last gate-keepers on tradition
Or read Seamus Heaney’s version
His verse is amazing!
But any pop-culture interpretation
Is subject to virtually unlimited changes
‘Cause if you try to please the tourists
Then the purists get Tourette’s and curse you
And if you try to do the reverse
Well, the tourists are known for their lack of endurance
So who do I try to please first?
Myself, and it usually works
So instead of judging like jurists
Just sit back and enjoy the experience
And I’ll go back to the story
Actually, forget it, I’d rather just leave it
If you really wanna know how it ends
Well then I guess you’d better just read it

Go read it
Norton publishing
Seamus Heaney
Dual-language edition
Old English
Read the introduction too
It's pretty informative
Do not listen to rap music to get an education
It's entertainment
You gotta go read
Go read