The Song of Roarke the Dragon-Killer

from The Found Tales of Hagenspan, though referred to in passing in Going Home

 

Though usually recited as poetry, it is believed that this song did originally have some sort of rudimentary melody. It was referred to in Roarke's Wisdom: Going Home both as "the poem of Roarke the Dragon-Killer" and "the song of Roarke the Dragon-Killer." We shall defer to the latter understanding here.

The reader should be reminded that after each, "To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!" the gathered listeners would quaff hearty draughts of ale (or whatever strong drink they had at hand). I recommend this approach to the reading of the poem as well, as some of the latter verses seem to have been composed, shall we say, sicut ebriacum.

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 Some years ago in Hagenspan,
a peril rose against the land.
A serpent from his slumber woke,
and dragon-flames from Hell were fanned.
And from the gloom one dark voice spoke,
some years ago in Hagenspan.

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

And terror reigned for one sad hour
before the bleak reptilian power.
"Come, knight and soldier, wield your sword!"
The cry was raised from every tower
and souls dispatched to their reward
when terror reigned for one sad hour.

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

No hope in all the land was found;
for brave hearts melted at the sound
of awful roar and thund'ring step.
From limp hands swords fell to the ground;
the soldiers fled, the women wept.
No hope in all the land was found

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

But then remembered was one man
who, once before in Hagenspan,
had dealt a serpent's killing blow.
And clasped in prayer were fervent hands
where heretofore was hope laid low,
for then remembered was one man.

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

A summons came from Maygret, Queen:
"O Knight, whose courage has been seen
from days of old in battle grim:
Rewards have I, but in between,
a dragon looms; now fly to him!"
So came the word from Maygret, Queen.

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

Responding to the royal cry,
the Dragon-Killer, by and by
sought out the serpent's hidden lair,
and, once discovered, there did hie.
He rode, fair Hagenspan to spare--
responding to the royal cry.

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

A word about this noble soul:
No stingy praises shall we dole,
lest testimonial seem too terse--
(Come, maiden, fill my thirsty bowl!)--
while I compose another verse:
a word about this noble soul.

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

A goodly man, this sturdy knight,
who rode a stallion black as night,
but free was he from stain of sin--
untainted soul as white as light--
(Come, maiden, fill my cup again)--
A goodly man, this sturdy knight!

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

Now to his adversary glance,
if dare ye do to take the chance,
at flying menace filled with ire.
Before him men appear as ants!
He, filled with rage and breathing fire--
now to his adversary glance.

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

Now sing we of the battle met--
no conflict we shall soon forget:
Of knight and dragon; beast and man.
The victor for his trials would net
the fortunes of our Hagenspan.
Now sing we of the battle met.

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

Then circled Roarke around the beast,
and snarling tempest was unleashed,
and rav'ning was the appetite:
a lordly morsel for a feast.
And dragon-hate regarded knight,
as circled Roarke around the beast.

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

For hour on hour the conflict raged,
the battle joined, the warfare waged.
The dragon strike--the man retreat--
a deadly dance on breathless stage--
the hanging hands and aching feet,
as hour on hour the conflict raged.

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

Then plunged the serpent with his snout,
but dealt our knight a mighty clout.
Struck with his sword a piercing jab
that turned the beast around about,
and now again a stinging stab,
as plunged the serpent with his snout.

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

A scream to pierce the sky was heard;
with pain the dragon's vision blurred,
and rose up to disclose his breast.
And now, without a single word,
the blade is thrust to find its rest,
and scream to pierce the sky is heard.

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

The dragon dead! The battle won!
A day of peace is now begun!
So tap your kegs and drain your bowls!
Let cheers be cheered and songs be sung
for Roarke the prince of noble souls.
The dragon dead! The battle won!

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

So now for Roarke this song we sing--
would be the lord of everything:
the kneels of men, the maidens' kiss.
Our honor we surrendering,
of gold and glory! Songs like this--
and now for Roarke this song we sing!

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

So lift your mug and drain it deep!
Tomorrow's time enough for sleep!
Tonight's a time to laugh and shout--
the dragon's dead, the land is free--
our hero Roarke this song's about.
So lift your mug and drain it deep!

To the Dragon-Killer! Ho!

 

 

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© 2008 Robert W. Tompkins. All rights reserved.