The Ballad of Borron

The Ballad of Borron

The Barren Baron 

A Cautionary Tale


David Garnett




The Ballad of Borron The Barren Baron

A Feudal Tale of a Futile Fertility Search.


In feudal times when men but were
A chattel of their lord,
And knights did farm and pay their dues
By service of the sword,
Kings were kings and did the things
That serfs could ill afford.


‘Twas in such dark and distant days
That Borron lived and died,
He was a lord of noble stock
Upon his father’s side.
And in a tower as tall as elms
He dwelt with his young bride.


Because she was of nature soft
And beauty quite sublime,
Of all the maids he chose to wed
The Lady Caroline,
To share his bed and bear a child
To carry on the line.


For Borrons were as Borrons are
Not many left alive,
Thus he contrived to have a son,
A youngster that would thrive
And bear his name and titled fame
And make the line survive.


The days went by and turned to months,
The months they turned to years,
The gentle wife she bore no child
But only feudal sneers.
The peasants talked, the nobles laughed
But Borron shut his ears.


He turned then to his library shelves
To learn of birds and bees;
Hours and days and months he delved
In ornithologese,
Until one day they heard him cry:
“Find every sort of stork species!”


Great signs appeared throughout the land,
In no way could be missed,
So even the short-sighted
With lanterns to assist,
Could read that storks were now upon
The guarded wildlife list.


Domestic staff were ordered that
No warming fires should now be laid’
The chimney stacks stayed clean and cold
Until a twiggy nest displayed.
Although the eggs hatched, fledged and flew,
The lady stayed a maid.


Returning to his library shelves
He turned the leaves of books on trees,
He studied systematically
Until he came to ‘Gooseberry’:
“Good God! The goosegog seems to be,
The answer to my misery!”


Gooseberry plants were brought in,
Imported by the score
From neighbouring Kiam
And distant Ecuador,
And twenty dozen gardeners
Were summoned by the law.


One hundred thousand gooseberries
Were planted in the shade,
The plants they fruited by the pound
Amongst the thorns arrayed,
But underneath no sight nor sound
Of any bouncing babe.


Now in despair he wandered where,
Dressed in midnight purple,
The Weird Witch wove wicked spells
From blood of bat and turtle:
“Ferment my brew and bubble stew,
And make my lady fertle.”


So thus it was three times a day
My lady supped the brew,
Three times a day and after meals,
And at her bedtime too,
But still her state remained the same,
Childless through and through.


Next he climbed the Mountains,
The Mountains of the Mind
To find the sage who dwelt there,
The oldest of his kind,
The Keeper of the Wisdom,
In moss-ledged cave enshrined.


The cross-legged quaint old saint,
An old bent box between his knees,
Pondered long the baron’s plight
And harkened well the baron’s pleas,
Then arched his arms above his head
Into a ‘knowers arc’ and said:


“Life is not what it may seem,
Awakeness but a shallow dream,
Understand the paradox
That babes are heard but seldom seen –
That’ll be a guinea please,
Shove it in the box.”


Returning down the mountain path
He met a writer of light verse
Who walked with strictly metered pace
Whilst forcing rhymes that did disgrace
And making puns for you to curse,
Just like my own but even worse.


“Although you are a simpleton,
My final hope you constitute;
I have searched both high and low
Consulting those who are astute,
But none will tell what they know
Of how to make a young offshoot”.


“Dear sir it does appear to me
You need some rhyming therapy:
Just relax and let it be;
Write some couplets – two or three;
Just do what comes naturally
And you’ll produce great poetry.


When in love you don’t succeed,
The last thing that you really need
Is a fool to talk to you
In strictly rhyming doggerel.


Alternative Moral
In nursery rhymes from olden times
They’ve well-thumbed plums from puddings plucked,
In fairy tales they’ve no such luck:
Princes stand by ponds agog,
Leap upon enchanted logs
And metamorphose into frogs,
While titled lords with great big swords
Get into a dreadful state
When they fail to fornicate.