Here is a poem I have displayed at the Roald Dahl Museum in the UK…A tribute to Dahl and Coleridge

The Ancient Turtle and the Boy who loved him……

A poem

by Ben Manning

 

Based on the short story “The Boy Who Talked with Animals”

by Roald Dahl

Written in the style of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 

 

 

It is a native fisherman and he stoppeth one of three:

Say the others unto him,

“Why stops me my man?

Ah!  I see a fine catch hast been caught by thee”

“There, Here Tis  a Sea Turtle….The finest catch!”, quoth he,

From near boarding house the guests did gather,

“We will be rich! A treasured catch this be

For two hundreds years passed as have been enjoyed by he…

For he is an Ancient sea turtle…

His years worth more than thee or me…or all of us thrice round!”,

The sailors did care not for the large creature,

But only for selling it, pound for pound,

 

 

The men looked on,

The men did argue, the men did grumble and from great greed there words did stumble,

Round and round they circled and vainly did they prod,

Like a vulture round its pray they did discuss the turtle fate as it lay,

Provoking its venom and its anger,

Only to seek to slay it for reasons of danger

Its head did bob,

Its head did suffer, and its arms and legs scrambled, and did flutter,

There it lay as sad as a wounded albatross,

For on its back was it laid,

Its fate in the hands of a coin to toss,

From distance a boy doth come like the rich men that surrounded he,

He doth not cometh from lands of sea and sand, where fine men walk,

For in Jamaica  are such men of palm trees and drums of steel,  Honest and fine,

The boy he comes from the land of Albion,

As doth such men that taunt and barter

for this humble beast so old and fine to be used as a culinary starter!

This beast so wise and laboured,

So suddenly caught from waves of blue,

Soon to be eaten or sold as a catch so sought after,

Its fine sinews fleshed out and its soul sent to the thereafter,

But the boy he screams!

For he loveth the turtle that the men did slay

as it struggles its last breaths its life only a game for the men to play

The boy not more than a ten years child:

 

 

 

The Sea Turtle hath his will,

“Leave him be!”, sayeth he,

So loudly and clearly his words can be heard,

Like the winds on the waves and the wings of a bird,

Such natures wisdom from his mouth doth spring,

Approaching the turtle great kindness did he show,

Such peace and good fortune, love from him did flow,

“Be gone!  Tame the boy!

For like a shrew he doth give cunning to the turtle,

He is ours to sell and to barter,

Take him whence

Let us decide its fate“,

The mans thoughts were wild,  Such money and delights would be his,

From this turtle as his bait…

His thoughts so wild with greed and power,

His thoughts did ring,

“The money is mine,  I’ve won!  I’ve won!”,

Like a bird with its prey did the men look upon the sad turtle as it lay,

But the boy cradled its head in his hands,

Great kindness and love did he show,

For he loveth the turtle as lord god loves all creatures great and small,

Regardless of goods, money nor vanity,

The men looked on, fearing insanity,

The boy did speak to the creature, its Shell so wide,

The boy spoke on,

Meek gentle and so small,

“My son!  You must let the Turtle go… for his sanity!

The turtle so shrewd from the ages so wise,

Leave him be to be free and roam far and wide,

On the painted ocean so wide with unknown depths so measureless to man”,

The men did extort great riches from the boys father,

Only to calm the man’s child from fear and wonder,

To dispel thoughts of death and destruction,

To a creature so wise, omnipotent and round,

Once restored did it stumble,

Into the ocean it went so humble,

The boy did look on his heart at rest…..

 

But for in his bed next day he could not be found,

For he was known for talking to the animals,

Talk he did on the wide ocean for ever more,

They did search and roameth high and low for the boy of special powers,

But Oh! One, Two, Three footsteps found in the sand

Can he be found, by god hand?

 

In the distance the boy is seen

The sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came the boy!
And he and the turtle shone bright,

Clear as day on the back of the giant turtle he moveth toward the sun

The catchers did see him but natures law did tell them to follow the boy no further,

What a vision they saw!

As it came to pass did they let him be,

For they have found the child a’ riding on the back of the sea turtle,

On the sea, had they searched…… in a circle,

The boy saved the men from greed and avarice,

He had saved them from penance they might do,

Such guilt washed away into the ocean,

Oft!  they pondered how a kind saint took pity on them, and blessed them unaware

Surrounded by love’s light does he ride the waves on the back of gods creature,

For he hath drunk the milk of kindness……….

The men left stunned as the sun rose,

The boys kindness and the sea turtle’s age old wisdom had brought such selfish gains to a close,

Such higher things were beyond earthly wisdoms,

Sadder and wiser men they rose the next morning ,

But there be no reason for any mourning…

The parents so clever and wise, left stunned…

Into the unknown there boy did he venture,

Water, Water everywhere,

A sea wide with adventure…….

 

 

 

 

 

This poem being a visualization from the story by Roald Dahl of perhaps Coleridge as a young boy,  Instead of being nearly drowned in the River Otter we find him in a more exotic setting, with the Albatross’s place being taken by the Turtle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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