Here is another poem from my forthcoming collection After Prayer. I’m posting this one on St. Francis’s day as it’s a poem for Francis the poet, a song for Francis the singer. Indeed its a sonnet that started life as a song!
St.Francis loved the Jongleurs and Troubadours who passed through Assisi. As a young man he played and sang for his friends. After his conversion and calling he carried through that joy of making verse and music, and his canticle of the sun, composed and sung towards the end of his life, is testimony to that. Years ago, when I was a novice in the Third Order of the Society of St. Francis (the Anglican Franciscans) it happened that I was offered a set of pub gigs that clashed with some of the Third Order prayer meetings. I asked what I should do, and without a moment’s hesitation my novice master said to me “Play the gigs Malcolm, that’s where Francis would be.”
So this poem started life as the song I sang years ago on that first St. Francis day Gig, but after a while I realised the song was asking to be a sonnet so that’s what it became.
I should mention that “Hard-Core Troubadour” is the title of a great song by Steve Earle (but it’s not about St. Francis!)
As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking the ‘play’ button if it appears. Otherwise click on the title of the sonnet and it will take you to the player on the audioboo page.
I didn’t think I’d find you in this place
I guess you must have slipped in at the back
I’m lifting my guitar out of its case
But seeing you I nearly put it back!
You smile and say that it’s your local too,
You know the ins and outs of inns like this,
The people here have hidden wounds like you,
And you have bidden them to hidden bliss.
‘Francis I’ve only straggled after you,
I’ve never really caught your melody,
The joy you bring when every note rings true…’
But you just laugh and say ‘play one for me!’
This one’s for you then, on the road once more,
The first, the last, the hard-core troubadour.