Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An Unwelcome Welcome

Jack looked about, scratching his Considering Cap.
Where might he hide? There!
In a copper kettle with a lid.

He jumped up to the shelf where the kettle sat,
Slid the lid a bit,
And hopped inside,
Pulling the lid closed after him.

Just then the husband giant said,
In a voice like a winter wind
On high mountain peaks,

“Fe, fi, fo, fum!
Tonight I found only
I’ve caught no children.
All ran too fast!
Whatever will I have
For my breakfast?”

With that the giant
Threw his club on the floor.
It crashed like a falling tree.

Then Jack could hear the giant sniffing at the air.

“Fe, fi, fo, fum!”
The giant roared.
“I smell hasty puddin’!
“That’s not my style;
That’s not my meat!
Bring me a salted child
To eat!”

“Yes, yes, of course, dear!” the giant wife said.

And with that commenced much clattering.

Jack stayed quiet, completely still in the kettle, afraid for his life.
Had it not been for his Considering Cap and his considering,
Perhaps Jack would have run. But instead, he stayed quiet.

After much crunching, smacking, and munching,
Jack heard the giant husband say,

“Fe, fi, fo, fum,
Salted child! Yum, yum!
Come what may,
Come what might,
I’ll have a fresh child
For my supper tonight!”

But as he rose from his chair,
The giant sniffed the air again.

And sniffed again. And then again.

“Fe, fi, fo, fum!”
The giant intoned.
“I smell the blood
Of an Englishman!”

So saying, and giving his wife a distrustful look, the giant began to clatter about the room, overturning boxes and opening doors.

“There is no such here!” said the wife.
“Must be your imagination!”

“Be he alive
Or be he dead,”
The giant chanted as he searched;
“I’ll grind his bones
To make my bread!”

“Really!” said the wife. “Such an imagination!”

The harp, however, tried to tell a different story.
Slowly, plucked in rhythm, the harp said,

“Yes, he’s here,
Yes he’s here.
A sweet morsel
To bring you cheer.”

“Yes!” cried the husband.
“Dessert indeed!
English, English blood
Warm and salty!”

The giant searched;
His wife complained;
The harp sang on;
And Jack sweated for his life.

After what seemed like forever, though,
The warmth of the afternoon
And his heavy salted meal
Made the giant drowsy.

And so he curled up
Next the fire and fell asleep.

A Narrow Escape

As the giant snored, Jack heard the kettle lid lifted.

“Go now! Run for your life,” the giant wife whispered desperately.

And so Jack snuck toward the door.

But then he gave his Considering Cap a scratch.
And he looked about the room.
He spied on the table beside the giant husband
A bag spilling out coins of gold.

Stolen, it was, Jack considered.
From the poor people below.
Why shouldn’t Jack just steal it right back?
What was wrong with a good turn for himself
And his poor mother, starving at home?

“C’mon! C’mon!”
The giant wife whispered
As the giant husband snored
And the harp plucked out
As loud as she might,

“Yes, he’s here,
Yes he’s here.
Stealing a thing
That you hold dear.”

But the warmth and the meal conspired to keep the giant asleep. And thus Jack snuck past the sleeping giant, took the bag of gold, ran across the clouds, and found himself home by supper.

Nothing Hasty About It

Hasty pudding
Is just the reverse;

Must be cooked
Oh, so slowly;

The wheat flour mixed,
Oh, so slowly,

Into boiling water, then
Cooked, oh, so slowly.

Not hasty this pudding
At all.

Jack’s Mother Is Very Pleased

“Where have you been?”
Jack’s mother asked.
“I feared that perhaps
The giant had gotten you.”

“Oh, no,” said Jack
“Quite the opposite!
It was I who got the giant!”

So saying, Jack put the bag of gold down on the tiny table with a “thunk.”

Jack’s mother upended the bag
And gold spilled all across the tiny table.
“Our troubles are no more!” Jack’s mother said.

But that was not to be the case.

A Second Trip Up the Beanstalk

As his mother snored quietly,
Jack gave his Considering Cap a scratch
And considered climbing the beanstalk again.

Jack could hear,
However faintly,
A beautiful music,
As sweet as honey,
As dark as molasses,
As mysterious as
The darkest night.

Yet now;
Now Jack knew
From whence it came. . .

Why shouldn’t he climb again?
Jack considered.

The giant was not so very bright,
And his wife was so very kind.
And then there was the hen,
The hen who laid golden eggs.

Wouldn’t such a hen be
Just the thing for Jack and his mother?

Why should a thieving, murdering giant
Have such a thing to himself?

And so,
Without more considering,
Jack filled the gourd with water
And began the long and arduous climb.

Up, up, and up the beanstalk,
Up into the clouds once again.

The Hen Who Lays Golden Eggs

“Why ever have you come back?”
The giant wife exclaimed at the door.

“Really, you mustn’t have come back!
My husband is angry, so very angry about his gold.
Don’t you understand? He eats children like you!
For breakfast, lunch, and supper!
And now I fear he will eat you too!”

“You have been so,
So kind to me,” Jack
Said to the giant wife.
I ask only one thing more—
That you stand aside
As I take that chicken home!
Then, I will trouble you no more.”

“I fear for you life!”
The giant wife said.
“My husband will be back
At sunrise. Back with a child
That I will fry for breakfast!”

Jack considered for a moment,
Giving his cap a scratch,
But only for a moment,
Then he rushed toward the hall
To take the hen who lays golden eggs.

As he entered the room
The harp began to pluck out,

“Yes, he’s here,
Yes he’s here.
A thieving child
To take what’s dear.”

Jack did not listen to the harp’s song, however.
Rather, he dashed across the room and scooped up
The hen that lays the golden eggs.

At that moment Jack heard the stomp, stomp, stomp of giant steps and the chocked cry of a child in distress.

“You must, must run ever so fast and save yourself!” the giant wife cried.

The harp plucked out,
“Yes, he’s here,
Yes he’s here.
A sweet morsel
To bring you cheer.”

Outside, Jack heard a “thunk” and another “thunk,” and so the child’s cries stopped.

Jack considered not a moment
And jumped directly out the window
And ran and ran
The chicken clucking all the while
All the way across the clouds
And rushing, rushing down the beanstalk he went,

And so home again.

The Giant is Not Pleased

Walking into his banqueting hall,
The giant threw the dead child upon the floor
And began sniffing at the air.

He sniffed.
And walked about.
And sniffed again.

And then again.

“Fe, fi, fo, fum!”
The giant intoned.
“I smell the blood
Of an Englishman!”

“It’s only your imagination!” the giant wife said, but half-heartedly this time.

The giant sniffed the air
And clattered about the room,
Overturning boxes, opening doors.

“Be he alive
Or be he dead,”
The giant chanted as he searched;
“I’ll grind his bones
To make my bread!”

The harp plucked out,

“He was here;
He was here.
A dastardly boy
Who robbed your cheer.”

The giant grew angrier
And threw things around, saying,

“Fe, fi, fo, fum!
“I smell the blood
Of an Englishman!”

The harp sang,

“He was here;
He was here,
“But now he’s run
Away with what’s dear.”

Screaming madly, the giant
Shoved his sobbing wife
Nearly into the fire.

“Be he alive
Or be he dead,”
I’ll grind his bones
To make my bread!”

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