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The Life of a Bard  by Dreamflower

(Author's Note:  The first song in this chapter is the one that inspired the whole story.)


“Sing Ho! For the life of the bard!
Though the road is long and the way is hard.
For the life of the bard is free
Oh the life of the bard for me.

I’ve sung for lords and ladies fair
And eke for the peasantry,
I’ve sung for the children in the village square
Who dance so merrily
I’ve sung at night by firelight
And told of days of yore
To the yeomen bold and the captains old
To the yeomen bold and the captains old
As they gird up for war.

Sing Ho! For the life of the bard!
Though the road is long and the way is hard.
For the soul of the bard is free
Oh, the life of the bard for me.

Pippin’s eyes began to assume an unfocussed and faraway look as he listened raptly to the words of the song.

A troubadour he welcome is
At every hearth in town,
From the mountain stores to the boggy moors
I’ve travelled up and down.
And the price of bread, a roof o’er my head
Are naught but a simple poem.
Happy and glad is the minstrel lad
Who can call the road his own.

Now Pippin leaned forward, imagining himself gaily tripping down the road with no responsibilities, his only task to please other people with his music at the end of the day. What a life that would be!

Sing Ho! For the life of a bard!
Though the road is long and the way is hard,
For the soul of a bard is free
Oh, the life of the bard for me!

So give me a seat, some bread to eat
And a cup of good strong ale,
Of noble steeds and gallant deeds
Of knights I’ll spin my tale.

And when I die please let me lie
With my harp upon my breast,
And the turtledoves and the stars above
Will sing me to my rest.  

Sing Ho! For the life of the bard!
Though the road is long and the way is hard,
For the soul of a bard is free,
Oh, the life of a bard for me! (1)  

Oh, thought Pippin, the life of the bard for me!

Menelcar had the crowd with him nodding and clapping. He’d scarcely finished when he started another, a humorous tale of the courtship of a lad and a maid:

“One misty, moisty morning
When cloudy was the weather,
There I met an old man all dressed in leather
With a cap beneath his chin.
I began to compliment and he began to grin,
How-do-you-do, and how-do-you-do And how-do-you-do again….” (2)

When that jolly song drew to an end, he played his harp quietly for a moment, and then began a sweet sad song that reminded Pippin of his cousin Frodo. It must be an Elven song, he thought.

“East of the Moon, west of the Sun
There stands a lonely hill;
It feet are in the pale green sea,
It’s towers are white and still
Beyond Taniquetil
In Valinor.
Comes never there but one lone star
That fled before the moon;
And there the Two Trees naked are
That bore Night’s silver bloom,
That bore the globéd fruit of Noon
In Valinor.
There are the shores of Faëry
With their moonlight pebbled strand
Whose foam is silver music
On the opalescent floor
Beyond the great sea-shadows
On the marches of the sand
That stretches on forever
To the dragonheaded door,
The gateway of the Moon,
In Valinor.
West of the Sun, east of the Moon
Lies the haven of the star
The white town of the Wanderer
And the rocks of Eglamar.
The Wingelot is harbored,
While Eärendil looks afar
O’er the darkened waters
Between here and Eglamar--
Out, out, beyond Taniquetil
In Valinor afar.” (3)

As the last sorrowful notes faded, Pippin heard several sniffles and noses being blown. His own eyes burned a bit, and he blinked the tears away.

Now the harper began a brisker tune.

“The King beneath the mountains,
The King of carven stone,

At the first few words, Pippin’s head snapped up. That was one of old Bilbo’s songs! Moved by a sudden impulse, he raise his own sweet tenor to join the Man’s rich baritone. After a brief glance of surprise, Menelcar’s eyes twinkled, and he gestured for Pippin to come stand beside him.

The lord of silver fountains
Shall come into his own!

His crown shall be upholden,
His harp shall be restrung,
His halls shall echo golden
To songs of yore re-sung.

The woods shall wave on mountains
And grass beneath the sun;
His wealth shall flow in fountains
And the rivers golden run.

The streams shall run in gladness
, The lakes shall shine and burn
All sorrow fail and sadness
At the Mountain-king’s return!” (4)

As the song ended to thunderous applause, the two singers looked at one another and grinned, before taking a bow. Pippin felt suddenly overwhelmed by the joyful idea of experiencing this incredible feeling every night.


(1) “Sing Ho! For the Life of the Bard” by Mistress Rosalinde Jehanne of Paradox Keep, (Jonna Bernstein) sung by Lady Julitta des Cheveaux on the tape Fair Lady Atlantia put out by the Atlantian Bardic Guild, of the Kingdom of Atlantia in the Society for Creative Anachronism.

(2) From a Mother Goose Nursery rhyme that is part of a much longer folksong

(3) From The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two , Chapter V, “The Tale of Eärendil”, “The Shores of Faëry”

(4) From The Hobbit, Chapter XV, “The Gathering of the Clouds”

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