Ezra Pound

(30 October 1885 – 1 November 1972 / Hailey / Idaho)

Ballad of the Goodly Fere


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 grey 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.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Read poems about / on: tree, sea, son, ballad, house, smile, red, lost, wind, alone, sky

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Comments about this poem (Ballad of the Goodly Fere by Ezra Pound )

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  • Yvonne Dorsey (12/21/2009 8:48:00 AM)

    12/21/09 Todays clue in the daily crossword puzzle, the answer fere, not sure from the poem if it means companion, or priest? (Report) Reply

  • Stanton Hager (8/20/2006 6:51:00 AM)

    Fere (def.) a companion, a mate
    Pound- the great Modernist free-verse poet- was master of more traditional poetic forms than ANY other 20th Century poet. In fact, FEW pre-20th Century English poets mastered as many forms as Pound.
    'Ballad of the Goodly Fere' ranks with Robert Burns' ballads. (Report) Reply

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