Eternal YouthA Poem by David Lewis Paget
Be careful what you wish for...
I was travelling through a countryside
That I’d never seen before,
As it grew dark, the mountainsides
Loomed threatening, over my car,
The cloud hung low in a louring sky
And my headlights cut through the gloom,
Ahead on the twisting, bending road
I had hopes of a cosy room.
There wasn’t a house or a farm out there,
The valley was threading down,
The deeper it went, the darker yet
With still no sign of a town,
I thought that I’d have to drive all night
And my eyes were growing dim,
When back in the trees, I saw a light
And a sign: ‘The Dew Drop Inn’.
I pulled at the bell for the Publican
And I heard a shuffle inside,
A shadow loomed, and the hinges creaked
And the door swung open wide,
A man so gaunt that his face was grey
And his sallow cheeks were thin,
Stood trembling in the doorway there
In the hall of the Dew Drop Inn!’
I followed him in, not saying a word,
He motioned me into the bar,
Then poured me a whiskey and water
While I stared at a glass topped jar,
It drew my gaze as I sipped my drink
For the contents bubbled and swirled,
And I said: ‘Just where is the Dew Drop Inn?’
He replied: ‘At the End of the World!’
His voice came bubbling out of his chest
Like the rasp of a rusty saw,
His hands were trembling, where they lay
And he kept his eyes on the door.
‘That jar, it changes its colours, look!
From red, through green and gold…’
He said: ‘They told me one sip from that
And a man would never grow old!’
I stared at him, and I saw him frown
With a tear at the edge of his eye,
This ancient man with the trembling hand
And I said: ‘Well, that was a lie!’
He shook his head and he turned to me
‘It depends what you want it for,
I was twenty-two when I took my sip…
I’m a hundred and sixty four!’
‘I didn’t age for a hundred years
I revelled in youth, so long,
But suddenly I grew weary, thought
That there must have been something wrong!
I lost the zest for a youthful life,
Was beginning to feel my years,
All of my friends were dead and gone,
This life is a valley of tears!’
‘You’re telling me that one sip from this
Will give me a hundred - True?
I’ll still be fit and I’ll still be strong,
At a hundred and thirty two?’
‘You will, but there’s a condition
You must take on the Dew Drop Inn,
And stay in this cursèd valley then
‘Til a seeker of youth walks in!’
I’m standing behind the counter with
My eyes on the outer door,
I’ve stood like stone for forty years
And paced a track on the floor,
The Publican left, the moment I sipped
He went with a joyous cry,
In search of a path from the Dew Drop Inn
Where at last, he could finally die!
David Lewis Paget
© 2012 David Lewis Paget
David Lewis Paget
Moonta, South Australia, Australia
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