The Blackrow Ballads – songs from a mistaken pilgrimage

From the Preface:

This is the secret no one Dare discuss:
The final voice that sings and calls to Dust
All who are called upon to Dance upon the day
That foolish piper blows the Dream away.


The Tryst

All fondly I recall the day
The sun shone down, a gentle kiss,
Your endless gentle courtly way,
I smile in memory of bliss
And touch the wood of Tyburn Tree

How many lovers parted there?
How many oaths of love were sworn
How many smiled, or shed a tear,
Or laughed, or cried, with joy forlorn
Beneath the shade of Tyburn Tree?

The shade beneath the tree was cool
My eyes met yours as souls we shared,
Your will o’er mine did ever rule
My heart since first our lives were paired.
E’en now beneath the Tyburn Tree. 

Songs we heard sung, and laughter pealed
When by that tree your hand sought mine,
That gentle touch, a compact sealed
You knew and know, my heart is thine,
Not only there, by Tyburn Tree

I feel your touch, I hear your voice
I close my eyes I see your face,
Then gone, all gone. You made your choice,
And now I pass that empty place
There grows no fruit on Tyburn Tree

A Purse Full of Pennies

Who woke the man who rose that day
And stretched and yawned and went to slay
A thousand dreams he never knew?
Who woke that man? Oh was it you?
Who paid the man who walked the street
And never knew the dry defeat
Of words unsaid, of stories slain,
Who never knew or cared for pain?
Who paid that man who took that stroll,
Who stitched the leather to his sole?
Who kissed that man with stainless hand
And never sought to understand?
I’ll never know, I’ll never tell
Who paid that man who tolled the bell.


Find a little
spend a little
Waste a little 

Sewing little songbirds
on a washing line

Watch a little
Wait a little
Sigh a little

No more noisy songbirds
singing by the shore.

One Thousand Sea Shells

Here’s a thousand sea shells
lined up on the shore
Nicely spaced and shined up well
Like the thousand gone before
Each a heart and each a soul
Each a number and a name
Each a whisper of the whole
Waiting for a tide of flame

The Gardener’s Son

Would you dare to grow a flower
In the soil your father wasted
Boots trod down an idle hour
Crushed the grapes of wine untasted?

I have seen the flowers shining
Colours that he never knew,
Never knew and died maligning
I have seen them. Friend, have you?

Dust Drawn

There’s a fellow who is watching
Though he doesn’t really know
If the plans that he is hatching
Are to stay or are to go
And the woman in her sorrow
Lays a blanket on the bed
Dreams a dream of lost tomorrow
And she soothes a weary head

In the steeple, no-one’s waiting
And the bells are long since sold
For the powers are creating
Bombs and bullets for the bold
Sing a song and catch a comet
But a chance is all they need,
Hope’s a prison, lead them from it
In the silence of the freed

There’s a tree in Tyburn’s acre
Where fine leaves have never grown
And the laughter of its maker
Has a music all its own
There he dreams of dancing mornings
And though not a word is said
You can hear ten thousand warnings
In the silence of the dead.

For the woman, no more crying
For the time has long since fled
To be spent in fruitless sighing
Over words too long unsaid.
In the Tree’s relentless glory
She has learned her role at last;
In the service of his story
There she heals the shattered past.

Twenty One and One

Lay them down, my merry girl,
Lay them down and say,
Speak me fair, my merry girl
What awaits me there?

Don’t be shy, my merry girl,
Don’t be shy today,
Tell me plain my merry girl,
Be it foul or fair.

I’m not scared, my merry girl,
I’m not scared, I pray,
What is there, my merry girl,
Hope or black despair?

I see a road for you, my lord,
I see a road so long,
You walk it on your own, my lord
Always on your own.

The path is wicked hard, my lord,
The path will lead you wrong,
Winding, dark and grim, my lord,
False and overgrown.

But don’t turn back in fear, my lord,
But don’t turn back, be strong,
The stars above shine love, my lord,
You are not alone.


For a lifetime by the tower stands a boy without a name
Waiting for the bell to ring and wake the day
And though the wind is biting cold, the puppets who’ve been bought and sold
Just stand and stare in silence through the shame.
As he waits and watches empty for the songless show to start
He thinks of voices stilled and tales untold
And through the night he heard the chimes of melted bells a thousand times
And tightly locked the box that held his heart.
For his tears were just illusion and his dreams were just a lie
And the voice that led him there was dead and gone
And his feet were torn and tattered, and the whole damn world was shattered
For a puppet show beneath a throneless sky.


The destination’s not in sight, but still you carry on
Though every step’s a blazing trial and all your hope is gone,
You can’t go back, you must go on, your home is far behind,
As fiery pain tears through your sole, and drives far from your mind
All thoughts of peace, all thoughts of calm, all hope of better days
So long ago, so far away from Firewalking ways



On the seashore by the water looking at horizon far
There’s no song and there’s no music
Nowhere that the singers are

Once they stood there, once they played there, once they dreamed of life and love
Then the storm and then the fire
Arid empty sky above

No more songbirds, no more puppets, no more bells to chime the hour
Only sand and only water
Silent church and empty tower

Long the road, and far the journey, back to where they ought to be
Empty rooms and barren paper
In the shade of Tyburn Tree


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