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Monkey & Bear
Bearhat
mudcub

     Down in the green hay,
where monkey and bear usually lay,
they woke from a stable-boy's cry .
He said: "Someone come quick --
the horses got loose, got grass-sick --
they'll founder! Fain, they'll die."

     What is now known by the sorrel
and the roan?
By the chestnut, and the bay, and the
gelding grey?
It is: Stay by the gate you are given 
Remain in your place, for your season.
 
O, had the overfed dead but listened
to that high-fence, horse-sense,
wisdom...

     But,
"Did you hear that, Bear?" said
monkey, "We'll get out of here,
fair and square --
they've left open the gate door!

"So, my beau.

     "Here is my hand. Where is your
paw?
Try and understand my plan, Mudcub.
My heart is a furnace
full of love that's just, and earnest.
Now.
We know that we must unlearn this
allegiance to a life of service,
and no longer answer to that heartless
hay-monger, nor be his accomplice --
(that charlatan, with artless
hustling!) --
But Mudcub, we've got to eat something,
and earn our keep, while still within
the borders of the land that man has
girded,
(all double-bolted and tight-fisted!),
until we reach the open country,
a-steeped in milk and honey.
Will you keep your fancy clothes on,
for me?
Can you bear a little longer to wear
that leash? 

"My love, I swear by the air I breathe:
Sooner or later, you'll bare your teeth.

     "But for now, just dance, darling.
C'mon, will you dance, my darling?
Darling, there's a place for us;
can we go, before I turn to dust?
Darling, there's a place for us.

     "Darling. C'mon will you dance,
my darling? 
The hills are groaning with excess,
like a table ceaselessly being set.
C'mon will you dance, my darling?
And we'll get there yet."

They trooped past the guards,
Past the coops, and the fields, and the
farmyards, all night, till finally,

the space they gained
grew much farther than
the stone that bear threw,
to mark where they'd stop for tea.

But,
"Walk a little faster,
don't look backwards --

"your feast is to the East, which lies a
little past the pasture.

     "When the blackbirds hear tea
whistling, they rise and clap,
Their applause caws the kettle black.
And we can't have none of that!
Move along, Bear; there, there; that’s
that."

(Though cast in plaster,
our Mudcub's heart beat faster
than monkey's ever will.)

     But still;
they have got to pay the bills.
Hadn't they?
That is what the monkey would say.
So, with the courage of a clown, or a cur,
or a kite, jerking tight at its tether,
in his dun-brown gown of fur,
and his jerkin of
swansdown and leather,
Bear would sway on his hind legs;
the organ would grind dregs of song,
for the pleasure
of the children, who'd shriek,
throwing coins at his feet,
then recoiling in terror.

     Sing, "Dance, darling.
C'mon, will you dance, my darling? 
Darling, there's a place for us;
can we go, before I turn to dust? 
Darling, there’s a place for us.

     "Darling.
C'mon, will you dance, my darling? 
Keep your eyes fixed on the highest hill,
where you'll ever-after eat your fill.
Oh darling... dear... mine... if you dance,
darling: I will love you still."

     Deep in the night
shone a weak and miserly light,
where the monkey shouldered his lamp.
Someone had told him the
bear'd been wandering a fair piece away
from where they were camped.
Someone had told him
the bear had been sneaking away,
to the seaside caverns, to bathe;
and the thought troubled the monkey,
for he was afraid of spelunking
down in those caves.
And also afraid what the
village people would say,
if they saw the bear in that state --
lolling and splashing obscenely --
well, it seemed irrational, really,
washing that face;
washing that matted and flea-bit pelt
in some sea-spit-shine --
old kelp dripping with brine.
But monkey just laughed, and he
muttered,
"When he comes back, Mudcub will be
bursting with pride --
till I jump up!
Saying, "You've been rolling in muck!
Saying, "You smell of garbage and
grime!"

But far out,
far out,
by now,
by now --
far out, by now, Bear ploughed.
Because he would not drown:

     First the outside-legs of the bear
up and fell down, in the water, like
knobby garters.
Then the outside-arms of the bear
fell off, as easy as if sloughed
from boiled tomatoes.
Low'red in a genteel curtsy,
Bear shed the mantle of his
diluvian shoulders;
and, with a sigh,
he allowed the burden of belly to drop,
like an apron full of boulders.

    If you could hold up his
threadbare coat to the light,
where it's worn translucent in places,
you'd see spots where,
almost every night of the year,
Bear had been mending,
suspending that baseness.

Now his coat drags through the water,
bagging, with a life's-worth of hunger,
limitless minnows;

In the magnetic embrace,
balletic and glacial,
of bear's insatiable shadow --

Left there!
Left there!
When bear
left bear;

Left there,
Left there,
When bear
stepped clear of bear.

(Sooner or later you'll bury your teeth)

"Monkey & Bear" by Joanna Newsom

And an explanation of the song for the cryptically challenged

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That's such a sad, sad song. Or at least the words are. It speaks to me of lost dreams and hopeless resignation.

"Look at my hopes, look at my dreams,
The currency we've spent
"

I love you, oh, you pay my rent! {grin}

I thought so too. I mean, does the bear kill himself at the end by drowning? That would a terrible terrible fate indeed.

Instead, I'm thinking of a happier ending. The Bear can't be a bear. Tried it, it just didn't work. So instead, the bear leaves his problems behind. Buddhism says that physical desire holds you back. So the Bear becomes light itself... pure nirvana - transcending himself and his troubles.

At least that's what I like to think.

Or another survivor of a codependent relationship.

And perhaps it doesn't matter - as he transcends to a more heavenly plane, his earthly body does sink into the ocean but at that point it's just excess baggage anyway.

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