Home  »  The New Poetry  »  Ballad of the Goodly Fere

Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936). The New Poetry: An Anthology. 1917.

Ballad of the Goodly Fere

By Ezra Pound

HA’ we lost the goodliest fere o’ all

For the priests and the gallows tree?

Aye lover he was of brawny men,

O’ ships and the open sea.

When they came wi’ a host to take Our Man

His smile was good to see,

“First let these go!” quo’ our Goodly Fere,

“Or I’ll see ye damned,” says he.

Aye he sent us out through the crossed high spears

And the scorn of his laugh rang free,

“Why took ye not me when I walked about

Alone in the town?” says he.

Oh we drank his “Hale” in the good red wine

When we last made company.

No capon priest was the Goodly Fere,

But a man o’ men was he.

I ha’ seen him drive a hundred men

Wi’ a bundle o’ cords swung free,

That they took the high and holy house

For their pawn and treasury.

They’ll no’ get him a’ in a book, I think,

Though they write it cunningly;

No mouse of the scrolls was the Goodly Fere

But aye loved the open sea.

If they think they ha’ snared our Goodly Fere

They are fools to the last degree.

“I’ll go to the feast,” quo’ our Goodly Fere,

“Though I go to the gallows tree.”

“Ye ha’ seen me heal the lame and blind,

And wake the dead,” says he.

“Ye shall see one thing to master all:

’Tis how a brave man dies on the tree.”

A son of God was the Goodly Fere

That bade us his brothers be.

I ha’ seen him cow a thousand men.

I have seen him upon the tree.

He cried no cry when they drave the nails

And the blood gushed hot and free.

The hounds of the crimson sky gave tongue,

But never a cry cried he.

I ha’ seen him cow a thousand men

On the hills o’ Galilee.

They whined as he walked out calm between,

Wi’ his eyes like the gray o’ the sea.

Like the sea that brooks no voyaging,

With the winds unleashed and free,

Like the sea that he cowed at Genseret

Wi’ twey words spoke suddently.

A master of men was the Goodly Fere,

A mate of the wind and sea.

If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere

They are fools eternally.

I ha’ seen him eat o’ the honey-comb

Sin’ they nailed him to the tree.