A Tale for our Time: The Market Trader’s Stones ♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪[prose poem and song]♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪

Posted on Updated on


ONCE-UPON-A-TYME, in an insignificant town of little renown, there was a commotion caused by heaven-knows-what. Like a whirlygigsome wind, it came and went and ruffled feathers, blew some fences down, turned some stuck things round, brought some haughty faces down, set some wheels in motion all around. But let me start at the beginning…

It all began at the market which, in that small place, was every day and every stall had been the way it was from further back than any could recall. Until a stranger came to town, dressed in clothes which made folks look askance (he was no stranger, though, to this reactionary dance). Before he’d even made a move or opened up his mouth, alarm bells jingled in their minds with peals of fear — his very presence near them seemed disturbing, made them miffed. Feeling undermined, they primed themselves defensively and clenched their gnarlsome fists.

The stranger then (whose name was Rex) set up his little market stall: A table covered in some simple stones. Nothing more and nothing less. (It was a lovely sight; I must confess). To most observing eyes they looked like ordinary smooth and roughly hewn uneven pieces anyone could find. But yet to some (the people who were unafraid) they seemed like pearls and amethysts and topaz, moonstone, sapphire, chrysolite and turquoise, onyx, emerald and jade. The other market traders selling stones were watching like a hawk to see what prices he would put upon his wares and if his stones would sell and thereby steal their custom which, because they’d always ruled the roost, they were not about to share.

Imagine their disdain when not only did he offer all those stones for free but some of their own customers were queuing at his stall — for suddenly, as if by magic alchemy, those precious stonely qualities many of the people present now could see. Enraged, they stood before his stall, assailing his new customers with how his stones not only were the same as theirs but theirs were tried and tested over time and thus they were superior and how could all these people be attracted to a heap of new-made stones which, probably, this man had stolen from some other hapless chap; and viciously they went on the attack.

The stranger stood his ground and mildly smiled. He’d seen this strange reaction many times before. He marvelled how a hoard of stones could kindle such a dark furore. He turned towards these other traders, closed his eyes as if in thought, pulled his lute out from his bag into his arms and then these words in song before their scowling faces quietly he brought:

Why do we do the things we do
and say the things we say?
Why do we think along a track
which only goes one way?
Our actions and our words reveal
the source of our control —
Either hurts we suffered in the past
or purity of soul.

With eyes tight shut and ears closed
we wander in a daze.
Instead of being blind and deaf
our hearts should be ablaze!
The time has come to wake ourselves
and no more be asleep
To see things as they really are
will take a quantum leap

The world that we think we see
is only a dream.
This transient entity
is not what it seems.

Why must we thrive on conflicts made
when here there should be none?
Why can’t we revel when we see
another’s works well-done?
There’s pain enough throughout our lives
without the dross we make.
In anger we will live and lose
until to love we wake.

We take positions in a patch
of ground we think is ours.
But no one owns a scrap of earth
or grass, or trees, or flowers.
And if we freely give to all
who need, we will receive.
There’s nothing for us to defend;
possession’s make-believe!

The world that we think we see
is only a dream.
This transient entity
is not what it seems.

So let’s all gladly give our hearts
to ramblers in our field.
Each time we act with grudge and gall
our vanity’s revealed.
It’s folly for us to engage
in any kind of war.
Our self-awareness is the key
and selflessness the door.

Sensing that his words were sung of them, before another verse could grace his lips they rushed at him as one and overturned his stall. But yet (I swear that this is not a lie) the harder that they hit the dirt the more those stones did shine and even sparkled in their eyes. And so they stamped on them incessantly — as if possessed by evil spirits, demons, imps which hate the arts — until those stones were hidden in the ground and thus were hidden from their hearts. Some in that crowd who stood around and watched as if transfixed, benumbed, by all that they had seen (for never in their lives had they observed such spite), stepped forward, tried to dig those stones out from the dirt; but to their huge surprise no stones could find. And then that stranger — suddenly as he had come — had disappeared and left that town behind.

The people then (the ones who’d loved the stones that man had brought into their marketplace) determined thus to seek him out with all due haste. For just a few, it only took a briefsome search before they found their goal. Although I have to say that happened in a very unexpected place; for the one who has those stones does not dwell where you think he would (if I may speak in code, one has to travel down one’s rabbithole to find his neighbourhood). Because of this, by far the most of those who’ve set off on a pilgrimage to seek him out have spent a lifetime climbing over mountains, hills and dales and consequently what they’ve sought has been to no avail.

So, thus, there comes a time when such an expedition, odyssey or voyage is no more undertaken on a road which one can see; and then we will discover who are members of our rightful family. For fleshly consanguinity is only for the sceptic who decries the stones of Rex and at all costs defends the earthly businesses that he or she protects. The moral of the story here is plain for all to see: To understand the preciousness of Rex’s stones and thus receive them as one’s own, will mean a journey inwardly and there we’ll find the market trader’s treasure stall and thus fulfil our destiny, receive what’s meant to be — our all…

[The song in this tale appears on “The Key” album, which will be released in Autumn 2016. It will have voices, lute, strings, oboe, bassoon, medieval drums and bells]

© Alan Morrison, 2016

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s