The Traveling Companion

for Hans Christian Andersen

One man in his grave, my John
Never let rest
One man walks away, John
Paying a debt

A drop of sweet ointment, my John
Shall mend what is sore
It’s little enough, John
Though precious as ore

Three ferns make a storm, my John
Let hailstones fall
Break the branch o’er her, John
Once and for all

One white swan is dying, my John
Dead as it flies
One black swan is lying, John
With mountain cave eyes

Cut the wings from her back, my John
Sing a sweet hymn
Tuck them here in my sack, John
Call it a whim

And there I will fly, my John
Fly while you sleep
Beating her bloody, John
On the flight to her keep

And how she does sigh, my John
How she does moan
She’d smile while you die, John
And ne’er make a groan

But take these three feathers, John
Take my sweet oil
Drown her in water, John
Thrice drown the girl

Then she will rise, my John
Broke of the spell
I’ll put up my sword, John
And wish you both well

Shed of all swords, my John
Shed of my wings
Shed of the ferns, John
And ointment and things

One man from his grave, my John
Paying his debt
You get what you gave, John
Now I to my rest

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