A Tale of Two Brothers

A Tale of Two Brothers

A Story by emipoemi

Two stately brothers, side by side,

Walked through the woods along their course.

The first told truths with grace and pride,

The other lied with no remorse.


One letter formed their given names,

But nothing marred their dignity.

The elder, E, held truths his aims,

The liar, V, held villainy.


They walked along the woodland path,

As was their custom ev’ry morn.

Though opposites, they bore no wrath

To fight or one another scorn.


In silence walked they further down,

As though their mouths were sealed by corks.

And further straying from their town,

At last they came to Meisner’s Fork.


A fork so named, for in the past

Old Jered Meisner made a trek

That in the end became his last,

Since he was by its end a wreck.


In his old age- as in his prime-

He was a trekker of great fame.

And, trekking through the woods one time,

He to the noted fork soon came.


Awe in an instant lit his face,

As ev’ry wonder drew him in.

For he knew well it was a place

To which he ne’er before had been.


A horned owl cried up in a tree,

And Jered Meisner turned around

To hear it say: ‘Haree! Haree!

I call to thee, man on the ground.


Thou mayest think this place divine,

Thou mayest think ’twill never cease,

But ’twill degrade and lose its shine

Should any but disturb its peace.’


That tale had such a muddled end

That all were stumped about the trek,

For none could clearly comprehend

How Meisner came to be a wreck.


Yet when he died, when they deemed fit

The people to the fork would head

To honour Meisner for a bit,

And heed the words the owl had said.


’Twas why the brothers made their way

Each morning to the honoured fork.

Now, having come to it that day,

The elder, E, spat out his cork:


‘Ah, V, dear brother, look around,

And see the wonders shining bright

For us, as we had trod much ground

To get to see this wondrous sight.’


‘Ah, yes indeed, the sun doth shine,’

The other said, and rolled his eyes,

‘And maketh all of this divine,

As anyone can realize.


A thousand times I’ve heard from thee

How fair and peaceful all this lies.’

And then V turned his back to E,

Who stood there blinking in surprise.


‘How comes it, now, that thou art sour?’

He asked, and grasped his brother’s arm,

‘Thou wast so cheerful by the hour.

What change hath charged thee with its charm?’


‘None. Thou art seeing day by day,

Thy selfsame brother showing up.

This sour demeanour I display

Is but a part of growing up.’


How comes it, then, that I’m not so?’

Asked E as V shook off his hand,

‘I see not how it fits the flow

That we all know and understand.


For what thou hast proclaimed hath not

The confirmation truths supply.

’Tis such a strange and senseless thought.

Do I perchance detect a lie?’


‘Nay, all I have proclaimed is true"

This sour existence be the fate

Of each of those among the few

Who walk about with signs of hate.’


Then E looked V straight in the eyes

To see if he could spot a sign

Of any twinkle shouting ‘Lies!

To show that V had crossed the line.


For E knew V would always tell

What would contain a far-fetched theme.

He knew that spiteful twinkle well,

For often had he seen it gleam.


‘Thou liest thou most fiendish brute!

If only I could cut thy tongue"

That sordid, most disgusting root

Where ev’ry lie hath bravely sung.


For all our sakes for once be good,

And free thy virtue from its cell.

Remove that sordid somber hood

Where lies absorb thee in their spell.’


‘Thou simpleminded, spazzing twit,’

Scoffed V, and gave a wicked grin,

‘’Tis hard for thee to take the hit

That ’tis my destiny to win.


For know I shall be growing tall,

And shall erelong look down at thee.

’Tis I the wiser! I know all!

And thus ’tis I the elder be.’


‘Thou liest more, thou wretched fool,

For I still have four years on thee.

Cease choosing me to ridicule,

For I the elder, wiser be.’


Shout, Esau! Shout and rail at me!

Ay, Esau, ’tis in ev’ry way

A most befitting name for thee"

’Twould have been mad had I been J!


For mark why I have spoken so,’

Continued V conceitedly,

‘For now ’tis time for thee to know

That mother always favoured me.’


And thus their argument had sprung

Like embers bursting into flame,

With E who sought his brother’s tongue

And V who sought his manhood fame.


This was the only time they fought,

And neither knew the reason why

It had to happen on this spot

With V’s most cruel and vicious lie.


But, all the same, their fight progressed,

And many would have thought it dull

To watch E try his utmost best

To get his words past V’s thick skull.


But while they quarreled, sneered, and leered,

And while they had their raging fits,

Their reasons shattered, disappeared,

And they became their opposites.


By then a man came from his path,

And looked around as though astray.

He saw the brothers burst with wrath,

And, drawing near them, made to say:


‘Pray, gentlemen upon these paths,

I for some aid appeal to ye.

For but one moment hold thy wraths,

And say which way Olerno be.’

‘Right!’ cried E though nearly hoarse,

‘Left!’ cried V insistently.

‘Right!’ cried E with greater force,

‘Left!’ cried V persistently.


With both hands raised and shaking knees,

The man said he would take the right,

And once he vanished through the trees,

The brothers recommenced their fight.


Two hours elapsed in this debate,

Then back-to-back the brothers stood,

Too vexed to even separate;

Too vexed to even leave the wood.


But, O, the horror! Now ’twould cease!

Each glimmer now would slowly fade.

The brothers had disturbed the peace,

And thus the fork would now degrade.


The wind soon heaved its final sighs,

The sun’s bright rays began to fade.

The leaves dried up, yet kept their ties

On all the trees that now decayed.


They then remembered ev’ry word

That owl’s foreboding warning said.

They cursed old Meisner, fork, and bird,

Then merely cursed themselves instead.


For days, as though their mouths bore corks,

In silence cursed they in their wrath.

For centuries they manned the fork,

And helped the lost regain their path.


But neither E nor V would speak

Unless a person gone astray

Would ask them of the town they seek,

And if by chance they know the way.


Yet just one question could one pose,

For no one knows, nor can surmise

Which of the two would truths compose

And which would always tell the lies.

The brothers with their hearts so bleak

Would evermore in silence stay,

And only would they ever speak

If asked: ‘What would thy brother say?’


Then they would speak without a fit,

And clearly give their answers, though

Whate’er they say is opposite

To where the lost ones need to go.


So shall the people always know

That, ere they wander out of sight,

If both say right, they left should go,

If both say left, they should go right.


So ends the tale about this fight,

Which left the brothers still and stiff.

(As for that man who had gone right,

Poor soul went tumbling down a cliff).


© 2017 emipoemi

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I want to know how much time you taken to write this I am really amazed and very big fan of of poetry

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Thank you!! This one took me about a couple of days to write
I admire your ability to tell a tale in verse. It's not a talent I have, but I can appreciate the effort for lengthy rhythm and rhyme. I enjoyed reading this very much.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.
This is an interesting take on the common brain teaser where you have to decide which question to ask two brothers, one who always tells the truth and one who always lies. I really like how you took that random novel concept and fleshed it out. Wonderful story with a fitting ending!

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Thanks you!! Glad you enjoyed it
This reminded me of the movie, 'Labyrinth,' with David Bowie. It reminds me of Sarah's long journey through the labyrinth trying to get to the castle of the Goblin King to save her baby brother. The length of the poem reminds me of her journey against time, and the two brothers remind me of the two doors, where one always lied and the other always told the truth. Trying to figure out which is which is truly maddening. In this case, it all seems so pointless and futile. I really like the ending, which solidifies the pointlessness of hatred, particularly between kin. After a while, the divide becomes so great; and no one even recalls what they are fighting for. It just becomes will against will, neither willing to bend; and it always seems like some innocent becomes the victim in the end. I have to confess that the length seemed a bit tedious at times; but when I finally reached the end, I was surprised at how quickly it ended. LOL! Now tell me that makes sense?!? I really appreciate the time and effort that it took to create this narrative poem that allows the two brothers to stretch their legs and tell their stories. In the end, we can relate to them both; and are still no wiser than they as to why they have come to hate one another. It's just one of the insanities of being human, of the human ego, and one never wanting to just admit that he is wrong. The energy that it takes to hate someone is so exhausting. It's such a waste. Well done!

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Thank you so much!!!! It's kind of a knack I have: able to write lengthy poems, but still be able to.. read more
Linda Marie Van Tassell

1 Year Ago

I've lost count of how many times I've watched 'Labyrinth.' I adore the film, and I love the soundt.. read more

1 Year Ago

I like it more for its artistry rather than the fact that it's darker. I mean, come on, it's a) all .. read more
Hmm I like this a lot. I'm sure you have a good explanation, but I'm confused as to why you use, "In silence walked they further down" and then in the same stanza write,
"At last they came to Meisner’s Fork", as opposed to writing "At last came they to Meisner's Fork." Thanks for your clarification.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

Certainly, I like "walked they" better. I just wondered why you didn't use it in other similar place.. read more

1 Year Ago

sound.....simply sound.

1 Year Ago

Okay, thanks
I have to confess I skipped the odd verse here or there! However, I'm in no position to talk as my own new story is much longer than my usual! The thing that struck me most here was the meter and rhythm, and you would know that sometimes here there are lines that don't scan as well as they might. You're the writer and can choose as you wish whether to be a slave to meter or go with some flexibility. For me, on this occasion, I would try for perfect meter on every line. It's obviously your call.

I could easily see this as an old English folk song with lutes and so on. Robin Hood would be listening and making moony eyes at Maid Marian. And clearly there's a story here - almost a parable - with meanings and moral issues, as in many such folk songs. However, I hope you don't mind this feedback, for me the pace was a little pedestrian and drawn out.

Regards, Nigel

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 Year Ago

As I said, this was part of my first phase where my ear heard the millisecond of a second syllable i.. read more

1 Year Ago

Your stress comments are also a bit falsely made, for lack of a better expression....hope I didn't s.. read more
Nigel Newman

1 Year Ago

I entirely agree with you about the Left/Right and said so. The reason I included that feedback was .. read more

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6 Reviews
Added on June 23, 2017
Last Updated on June 26, 2017
Tags: poetry, poem, ballad, story



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