The Poet’s Excursion
The rain gently pattered on the ground. The thunder boomed, strident yet rhythmic and melodious, like the rage of a woman. “Another striking canvas of nature!” said Lucas; as he rushed to seek shelter. His hair part wet. His garments spotted with raindrops. Soon, he reached a tavern, half drenched. He cared not of his shoes or coat; but of the book he always carried; his deepest inspiration: A volume of romantic poetry by Douglas Brennan. It was one of the main reasons why he had chosen to study literature.
“Good Lord, she’s quite soaked!” He exclaimed. He spread the book out in order to let it dry.
“What may I bring you this evening, sir?” The bartender asked.
“Nothing too strong, something that could help warm me up a bit.” Lucas replied.
“On it!” The bartender replied.
A man was seated beside Lucas. He looked at the half-drenched book.
“Are you new to this town, young lad?” he asked. He looked quite intoxicated, which was not very surprising as he had deep, sunken charcoal eyes. He had dark hair and looked like he was in his late forties. But his voice was gentle and calming.
“Indeed, I am!” said Lucas
The man let out a sarcastic giggle. “I must say, you are quite enthusiastic. It is ironic, given the ambience of the town and the weather. May I ask you your age?”
“A very fragile twenty.” Lucas replied.
“Twenty?” The man responded. “Mustn’t those of your age aim to travel overseas to get an education? Given your appearance and your attire; you seem to have a standard of your own. Yet you let your modesty reflect across it all. Mustn’t you be in the capital, in the best and the most reputed of institutions?”
“Perhaps I must, but that is not my sole purpose. I have come here to quench my thirst for inspiration. I dream of becoming a poet. Not the greatest, such as Shakespeare; but rather one who can gently perch his words over a reader’s heart, such that once recited they may echo in one’s mind and never be forgotten; for poetry requires not only eloquence, but a fervent blend of emotions in a way no man has imagined and never will.” Lucas responded.
“Well said, I am impressed. Yet I do not understand what form of inspiration you think you can find in such a gloomy town. Why not head over to the silent valleys that hold enchanting lakes upon their breasts? Leave all civilization behind, let fresh blooms of spring with the chirping birds and bombinating bees awaken your spirit every morn; and the mist guide you to an ultimatum of ideas?” The man asked.
“I see your point, and where it may come from. Misconceptions and myths that voyage round about poets, as if all we see or pen is a mere fairytale. I have come here to seek what the poet Douglas Brennan found. His words hit me like lightning and shattered me like glass. The magnetic amalgamation of emotions he creates is something else in itself.”
“Are you a masochist, then?”
“Aren’t all poets masochists?”
Both men shared a hollow laugh.
“I’ve heard that this legendary poet dwells in this town. Thus, I have come to seek what he found. It might as well be a miracle if I get to meet him.” Lucas added.
“Well,” the man said as he continued to gulp his drink. “It indeed is a small town, grim but tranquil. Not many reside here. You might get lucky and bump across him. But I certainly must say, I don’t think I quite appreciate the way you handle my works. Do you, gentleman, not know of how to shield a book so dear to you from rain?”
Lucas took a moment to let the man’s words sink in.
“D-Douglas Brennan?” Lucas stuttered. “Is it really you, sir?”
“I may as well be, lad. Why would I ever start a conversation with a stranger? I knew I would have an interesting day the moment I saw you place that drenched book on the table. My readers are not complete strangers to me.”
“Oh Lord! I cannot believe my eyes! It is but fate that has led me here! I am Lucas Williams, Sir! It is my greatest pleasure to have the opportunity to converse with you!”
“The pleasure is mine, Lucas.” said Mr. Brennan.
“May I ask you, Sir, from which metaphorical garden do you pick these fine fruits that make up your sweetest sonnets? How do you make one drown and suffocate alongside you in your verses?”
“Just live, young Lucas, let life feed you love, joy, pleasure, despair, loss and grief. Evolve them into words and sew them together as a seamstress may for a queen.” said Mr. Brennan.
“But may I ask again? For I find something else in what is penned by you. Something I cannot find elsewhere. Something that makes me yearn to read more of what has purely been sculpted by you.”
The men shared a moment of intense gaze.
“Consider it intoxication.” Mr. Brennan said in a rather harsh tone. He finished his drink and stood up to leave.
“No, kind Sir, do not leave me on such a note. I must know the true reason. No amount of substance can bring out such treasures of poetry. You tell me all those jewels you call words are completely influenced by the fine taste of rum? Why would you dishearten me with a statement I know can never be the truth? Please enlighten me!”
“How persistent, yet how naive…” Mr. Brennan said. “The youth is truly refreshing. I wonder how pristine your poetry must be. Do you really wish to know?”
“Yes, I request.”
“Well, since you have given me no choice, allow me to illuminate your incorrigible heart. I was in the army. As if war wasn’t enough a reason to pick up the idea of writing, in order to cease the psychosomatic torment; I faced a fatal injury that cost me my position. Thus, when I returned, I took to poetry, to attain freedom from strife. No one read my verses of those days, when I wrote as a young, near-fallen soldier.
So, I work all day, for poetry does not truly pay. I often come here to taste some sweet wine and rum. Then I return to my wife. I feel her warmth. No matter how fatigued she is, or how deep her slumber is, I sing to her every night whilst she sleeps. Those lullabies I sing to her are what I publish. Thus, here you are, in front of me, tangled in this discussion.”
The men locked their eyes for one last moment.
“Thank you for the conversation, Lucas. I must leave now.” Mr. Brennan said.
“Thank you for your time, Sir.” Lucas replied as Mr. Brennan walked out.
Lucas felt an ocean of sentiments building up inside him. Elation, joy, inspiration, a little bit of sorrow and ambiguity. He had received the vial he wanted to drink from, but he felt as if he had missed the last drop. The rain grew tender and stopped. His beloved book had almost dried. He finished his drink and head out. He decided to take the longer path in order to explore the town and seek every bit of poetic element he could find before he picked up his pen.
He suddenly heard a strange, but familiar voice. It was gentle. He listened closely. To his astonishment, it was one of his most adored verses of Brennan. He followed it until he reached a rather sombre place. He saw a man with dark hair and sunken eyes; the same man he had met a while ago, reciting his verses to a gravestone.