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Bardic Arts

Welcome Stranger
by
Frederick of Holland
January, A.S. XXXVII (2003)

          Chorus:
          Welcome stranger, welcome friend,
          Come to where the fire is warm,
          From that night which has no end.
          Let the light keep you from harm.

The world is wild and dark outside,
A storm as we have known of old.
Within is fire and food to bide.
We watch the door against the cold.

A cry or knock will herald those
Who seek a haven from the storm
We welcome them into the close
And bring them where the fire is warm.

If you have need of care or bread
You find them here beside the fire.
Here is no thought of fear or dread
But gentle song of heart’s desire.

And if the road is yet your Fate
We send you forth with well-filled pack
To ease your journey, harm abate,
That we will some day see you back.

          Welcome stranger, welcome friend,
          Come to where the fire is warm,
          From that night which has no end.
          Let the light keep you from harm.

A rich man came who proffered gold.
But simple fare did he disdain.
He would not rest, but dared the cold,
We will not see him come again.

A poor man fell against our door
We pulled him from the howling mirk.
We healed him of his wounds so sore.
He had no coin, so asked for work.

He washed the dishes, baked the bread;
He served our guests their food and wine.
“You gave me back my life” he said,
“A gift I’ll give -- something of mine.”

And when he left for distant lands,
With pack on back, by duties called,
With skill and will, and his two hands,
A room he’d added to our hall.

          Welcome stranger, welcome friend,
          Come to where the fire is warm,
          From that night which has no end.
          Let the light keep you from harm.

The gift of gold is bright indeed,
But cold and hard as is the storm.
The gift of heart which finds a need
Is twice as rich, for it is warm.

We watch the door for those who tire,
We welcome those who flee the night
We are the keepers of the fire.
We are the wardens of the light.

          Welcome stranger, welcome friend,
          Come to where the fire is warm,
          From that night which has no end.
          Let the light keep you from harm.


© 2003 Frederick J. Hollander.
This was performed at Beltane, A.S. XXXVIII (2003), for the Bard of the West competition. This was entered as "Bard's Best".


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