Spider

Spider

[not his real name]

Had a mate called Spider when I was a lad.
          The knopper galls grow on the old oak tree.
You’ve never seen such a pretty young cad.
          And the rain falls heavy on the Irish Sea.

His daddy did hang when he was young.
          The knopper galls grow on the old oak tree.
They cut down the branch from which he’d hung.
          And the rain falls heavy on the Irish Sea.

His elder sister was our village belle.
          The knopper galls grow on the old oak tree.
Raven-haired and wild like her mammy as well.
          And the rain falls heavy on the Irish Sea.

Spider never said much about the old fellow.
          The knopper galls grow on the old oak tree.
But they both had blue eyes and their hair was yellow.
          And the rain falls heavy on the Irish Sea.

Spider was the first of us to kiss a lass.
          The knopper galls grow on the old oak tree.
And the girl he kissed was in the upper class.
          And the rain falls heavy on the Irish Sea.

Spider left school when he was fifteen.
          The knopper galls grow on the old oak tree.
His sister was nowhere to be seen.
          And the rain falls heavy on the Irish Sea.

I went to the mainland to go to college.
          The knopper galls grow on the old oak tree.
I sent him an email which he did not acknowledge.
          And the rain falls heavy on the Irish Sea.

I lived in England. I lived in Spain.
          The knopper galls grow on the old oak tree.
But I missed the mountains, and I missed the rain.
          And the rain falls heavy on the Irish Sea.

I’m taking a bottle down to Spider’s farm.
          The knopper galls grow on the old oak tree.
His sister’s at the door with a look of alarm.
          And the rain falls heavy on the Irish Sea.

She has a pretty son now, but no wedding ring.
          The knopper galls grow on the old oak tree.
She says poor Spider hanged last spring.
          And the rain falls heavy on the Irish Sea.

Her belly is big once again with child.
          The knopper galls grow on the old oak tree.
Her hair’s still raven and her eyes are wild.
          And the rain falls heavy on the Irish Sea.

This lad’s already a fine young fellow.
          The knopper galls grow on the old oak tree.
But his eyes they are blue and his hair is yellow.
          And the rain falls heavy on the Irish Sea.

 

Appears in:

In the Men’s Room [201?]

 

Notes:

This is an English translation of a traditional Landskerian folk ballad. While every effort has been made to convey the meaning of the original, some artistic license was necessary for the poem to make “sense” in a modern English-language cultural context, and to adhere to the balladic structure. The exact location of the story, and the veracity of the characters and events described therein, cannot be confirmed; but the caveat following the title and preceding the first verse of the ballad is common to many “named” ballads in the Landskerian oral tradition. Finally, a “knopper gall” is a chemically induced distortion of an acorn on a pedunculate oak, caused by gall wasps laying eggs in buds with their ovipositor. The knopper gall has been a feature of the flora (and fauna) of the British Isles since the 1960s and is now found throughout England, Wales and as far north as Scotland.

 

Video:

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