The Village Fool.
On a wet and windy winter’s day
Wrapped in a blanket in the church doorway
No one knew who had placed him there
A scribbled note simply said, “Simon, please take care.”
Perhaps his parents have passed in the “Great Sickness”.
An only child, left alone in the darkness
The village elders declared that it was their Christian duty
To show compassion and kindness and charity
So the blacksmith’ widow was chosen to care
For the foundling infant to nurse and to rear.
Simple Simon they called him
They said he was slow and dim
Because he was such a stupid chap
He had to wear a dunce’s cap
And sit in the corner on his stool
He being such a silly fool
They teased and taunted without mercy
And the best he could hope to be
Was to be the village fool
Then, children can be very cruel.
The teacher was a patient man and tried his very best
To help Simon to keep up with the rest
But it all seemed to be in vain
A decent level of education, he would never attain
They tried to find a solution and wondered why
His mind was like a butterfly
That flitted through the wild meadow flowers
So easily distracted yet he could sit for hours
At his desk, in deep concentration
And never join the conversation.
Then suddenly he would speak
And recite an entire lesson from last week
Word for word exactly as was spoken
As if his mind had suddenly awoken
As if from some alternative reality
It was both fascinating and scary
The children laughed at first but some began to cry
Their parents grew more concerned as time went by
Some said that he should be sent away
To a place that would care for him night and day
He would be better off among his own kind
Those of a slow and simpler mind
Not with “normal” children, yes that would be best.
Where he would not have to worry or feel stressed.
An elegant lady, all dressed in black
She had been quietly sitting at the back
A stranger, she was not from around here
Her voice was strong, commanding and clear
A gasp like a wave rippled through the congregation
“I will take him and see to his needs and education
His religious and his social upbringing
Where he will learn poetry, music and singing”
“He will learn to appreciate the fine arts and philosophies
To converse in the company of both gentlemen and ladies
Appropriate protocols, etiquette and good manners
On the important issues of the day and topical matters”
A carriage came for Simon the very next day
His meagre possessions and baggage all stowed away
As a small group of children and adults came to say farewell
Good Luck, good fortune and to wish him well
To be honest, most were delighted and relieved
To see the back of him, if rumours were to be believed
Fortune had smiled on the village, or so they said
Now they could get back to normal living instead
Simon just sat there, neither speaking, nor smiling
No one seemed to know or care how he was feeling
A strange sense of calmness, not a trace of emotion
Though the four black horses, caused quite a commotion
There were no speeches from the village elders
They had gathered to meet with the church ministers
Like vultures gathered in anticipation
Grasping the Judas coins of compensation
Sworn to secrecy on their honour and a purse of gold
Their silence bought, the story could never be told
Their memories became clouded, their lips sealed
Only to a chosen few, the real truth had been revealed
Meanwhile, amid the waves and the cheers
The blacksmith’s widow shed a few tears
Then he was gone, without looking back
As the black carriage disappeared down the track.
To be continued..
© Denis Murphy 03 October 2022.