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The Ballad of the Goodly Fere

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Written from the perspective of Simon Zelotes speaking after the Crucifixion. The old english word for Fere means Mate or Companion. Pound wrote the poem as a response to what he considered inappropriately effeminate portrayals of Jesus, comparing Jesus—a "man o' men"—to "capon priest(s)".


Ha' we lost the goodliest fere o' all For the priests and the gallows tree? Aye lover he was of brawny men, O' ships and the open sea.

When they came wi' a host to take Our Man His smile was good to see, "First let these go!" quo' our Goodly Fere, "Or I'll see ye damned," says he.

Aye he sent us out through the crossed high spears And the scorn of his laugh rang free, "Why took ye not me when I walked about Alone in the town?" says he.

Oh we drank his "Hale" in the good red wine When we last made company, No capon priest was the Goodly Fere But a man o' men was he.

I ha' seen him drive a hundred men Wi' a bundle o' cords swung free, That they took the high and holy house For their pawn and treasury.

They'll no' get him a' in a book I think Though they write it cunningly; No mouse of the scrolls was the Goodly Fere But aye loved the open sea.

If they think they ha' snared our Goodly Fere They are fools to the last degree. "I'll go to the feast," quo' our Goodly Fere, "Though I go to the gallows tree."

"Ye ha' seen me heal the lame and blind, And wake the dead," says he, "Ye shall see one thing to master all: 'Tis how a brave man dies on the tree."

A son of God was the Goodly Fere That bade us his brothers be. I ha' seen him cow a thousand men. I have seen him upon the tree.

He cried no cry when they drave the nails And the blood gushed hot and free, The hounds of the crimson sky gave tongue But never a cry cried he.

I ha' seen him cow a thousand men On the hills o' Galilee, They whined as he walked out calm between, Wi' his eyes like the grey o' the sea,

Like the sea that brooks no voyaging With the winds unleashed and free, Like the sea that he cowed at Genseret Wi' twey words spoke' suddently.

A master of men was the Goodly Fere, A mate of the wind and sea, If they think they ha' slain our Goodly Fere They are fools eternally.

I ha' seen him eat o' the honey-comb Sin' they nailed him to the tree.


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