A wand’ring minstrel I, a thing of shreds and patches, of ballads, songs and snatches, and dreamy lullaby!
—Nanki-Poo, The Mikado
The princess ponders her musician
with sparkling eyes that seek petition.
“Dear Minstrel, friend, I envy your
position as a troubadour.
Please tell me of this sage tradition,
I want to hear your own rendition!”
The minstrel bows his head down low
and says, “M’lady, do you know
how lonely life is on the road,
bestowing joy to all abodes,
yet owed no comfort, though it’s showed?
“With horn or lute or fife or flute
a minstrel must stay resolute
to serve the people music’s magic—
melodies both sweet and tragic.
With fiddles’ festive flourishing
that nudges soul with nourishing
and artistry that he invests,
he conjures jests for puzzled guests
at court’s resort for festive sports
to serve retorts to courtier sorts
while they indulge in berry tortes
with bottled brews and servant’s news
and conversations they may choose,
with gossip chews or flirty cues,
jokes to amuse—or ramblers whose
enthused, sophisticated views
might make some simply blow a fuse
but will, for some, prove to bemuse.”
He winks and bows again, with cheer.
“I hope you liked my humor here!”
The princess smiles and claps her hands.
“My merry man, I understand!
You smile for all those in the land,
and yet your style’s a one man band.”
“We troubadours won’t stay indoors
but always tour—we’re never bores!
We score aristocratic wars
with stories of some far-off shores
and mentors who will only yield
those secrets kept with inner-shield
to worthy ones who prove their mettle,
like kettledrums that never settle,
or juggling jesters’ acrobatics,
or bard’s ecstatic stage dramatics.”
The princess smiles again and says,
“My friend, I feel your heart and head.
Imagination’s creative station
is conjuring, without cessation,
May I extend an invitation?
Please stay here as my honored guest
and share your gifts—we’d be most blessed!”
“I’d love to, Princess, stay with you.
Yet, I cannot. I bid adieu.
Continuing my calling, I
must travel over mountains high.
Your words will serve to fortify
my heart as distant lands fly by.”