The Song of Ceber

Argument: Ceber, hungry from walking, starts to look for something to eat. She runs into a grasshopper singing a song and despite wanting to eat the grasshopper, instead asks it to teach her the music.

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Following the fair       River Vada from Terbeir
Towards conical       snowcapped Cran
She soon became hungry
A warrior’s strength is in her stomach
So say       the old stories.
She went a little way off
To see if she could       find some small creature
To sting and eat.
Near the edge of a forest
In thick, tall,       fluted grass
She heard someone       singing.
Such a song       she’d never heard
And suddenly she desired to learn it.

Stepping around       she found the singer
A spur-throat grasshopper
Resplendent in yellow and green
Spotted on the wings
Tiger-striped and dotted
With wild eyes
And yellow zebra’d legs.
Plump and juicy       perfect for stew
Or with a little seasoning
Sided with steak
Cow and hopper strips
With mushrooms, sautéed.
A mountain hopper could feed two comfortably
And Ceber felt she could eat three!

Ceber’s mouth watered
At the thought of that white meat
Marbled with fat and blue veins
But it was the grasshopper who was singing
And so she approached in the open and hallo’d it freely.

The hopper started and said,
“Oh, curse my luck
A black hawkwasp       here to kill me.
What days these are that one cannot enjoy
The fiery sun       or the silky wind
When enemies walk abroad
In what used to be open lands.”

“Calm yourself       noble hopper,”
Ceber said       trying not to salivate.
“I come not for slaughter
I heard your singing       it sounds a fair piece.
Will you not teach it to me?”

“I would,” returned the grasshopper,
“But I fear you
If I told you the song from beginning
To the final caesura
Would you not then slay me?
Would both my song and my body
Be in your mouth?
By what measure do I have
To weigh the weight of a wasp’s words?”

“Verily,” Ceber said,
A bit hurt
When her honesty was her pride
Among her own people,
“I try not to lie,
Though it is sometimes difficult.
My name is Ceber Starlight
daughter of Tanis Dragonhalf
I am heading into Mount Cran
On a rescue mission       most important to me.
I expect a hard journey
But perhaps it would not be so unpleasant
With a fine song.
My people recognize the grasshopper’s
Strength in song       and sing in praise ourselves
Of your virtuosity       in verbal veracity.”

“Well spoken,       wasp,” the grass-eater said.
“I suppose I could cent       you the song
Though, it isn’t lengthy       long, or deep
No verisimilitude or deeper meaning—
I only like to sing—
The words must be pleasant
But that’s all they have to be.”

Ceber nodded,
“Tales are often of this sort
The only thing they       need to be is entertaining.”

The grasshopper began his song.

Song of the Grasshopper

What desire finally be?
Will some pretty lady see?
Wish some lover call me!
Where my love, my lady be?
Wild fields a lady hides!
Will she come be my bride?
In spring or late fall ladies come to hear my call.

Ceber’s Response

“Oh, lovely. Fair and lovely.
It was fair       far lovelier close up than afar.
When I had love       life seemed full of light.
But now my love       lies under a mountain.”
Ceber said thus and she meant it too
For the song stirred her and made her hope.

“Would that the grasshopper ladies
Felt the same as the wasp lady,”
said the hopper.
“It will be winter       before they come
And later than that       if a wasp calls me friend.”

“Sorry,”       Ceber said.
“I’ll leave you to       your love-longings
My quest is dark,
But you've brought me a little light
And light is good in dark places.”

She took her leave singing Okikikikikiki.
And this she sang       until the sun dipped
And she was standing       in the shadow of the mountain.

The Song of Ceber

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