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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
This the continuation of THE TORTOISE AND THE GEM OF PRICELESS VALUE. read and comment on it
Ah, ah, all is lost, cried he, as the fever threatened to gambol on the taut earth of the hallowed bowl. But the vision appeared again, sharp as he had first seen it in the smooth folds of fabled night. And at once he gave a roar that traveled across the vast expanse of his sagging spirit. Invigorated, he once again sallied into the fray, reborn in the cusps of the breaking day
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Submitted: July 11, 2008

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Submitted: July 11, 2008



Ah, ah, all is lost, cried he,

as the fever threatened to gambol

on the taut earth of the hallowed bowl.

But the vision appeared again,

sharp as he had first seen it

in the smooth folds of fabled night.

And at once he gave a roar that traveled

across the vast expanse of his sagging spirit.

Invigorated, he once again sallied into the fray,

reborn in the cusps of the breaking day.


Dim, dim, dim, dim, dim, dim


The afternoon came, hanging onto

the coattails of the departing day.

And once again his fellow animals

gathered around the deepening hole

and raised a clamor that was heard

round the town. Tortoise, O foolish

Tortoise, have you found the gem

of priceless value yet?


The sweat poured from his aching

brow like a barrel of water burst

open in the middle of a busy road.

His bones creaked like a regiment

in mutiny. His muscles ached

like a bevy of roaring canons.

Deep in the belly of his sagging

spirit came the cry to hoist himself

out of the hole and be done

  with his irredeemable foolishness.

But his hands would not venture

away from the bone-headed shovel.


I wish I could be done, he said.

I wish I could hoist myself

out of this forbidding hole,

and carry my near-dead feet

to the singing river and take

a dip, and going with the current

forget all my sorrows in its

laughter-giving bosom.

But here I am stuck with the tail

of a dubious dream—at least, so

it is beginning to look to me—

with no way out until I have

got to the bottom of the matter.

And, so, I must continue in my

labors, harsh and unforgiving

as it is, and prove to myself

beyond even the worst of my doubts

that my dream was a chimera,

or, nay, an oasis in the midst

of a famished night.


Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah!


We said you were out of your senses,

and say it again that you wear madness

like a new suit of clothing, a new suit

for each season, and what fine suits

of clothing, they keep us entertained

even in the midst of a harvest of sad



Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah!


Thus they assailed him, pelting him

with the mildew of previous mishaps,

guffawing loudly till their eyes ran

like the swift-flowing water of

a high tide, and their throats sour

from overuse ached for the balm

of the rapturous wonders of

an unpolluted stream.


But the fireflies began to traverse

the arteries of the night. Their flaming

torches bringing in thoughts of blessed

sleep and rest from the harshness

of the day’s labors.


Accordingly, their remaining salvos

were quickly fired and weary feet

followed the trails of night’s wardens,

since the moon had disdained to reveal

herself even for a one-eyed look

at the sorrows of the tortoise.


Dim, dim, dim, dim, dim, dim


Alone with himself and his labors,

his weary hands fell to working again,

until aching beyond the pain of ache,

the tortoise cried aloud, fool, fool,

I am a common fool, and should be

out of here, for now I am convinced

this surely is nothing but madness.

Where, where, is the rope?

I must hoist myself up, and be gone

from this hole of despair.


But at the very moment of his cry,

his shovel struck a hard object,

and as if eager to offer the tortoise

her services to make up for her

earlier disdain, the moon now

revealed an enormous smile,

benevolent as a river filled

from its bottom to its sky-seeing

top with healthy fish.


At once, tiredness disappeared

from all the nooks and crannies

where it had lodged itself in

the tortoise’s body and spirit.

It fled like a marauder surprised

in the act by the vigil-keeping

owner of the house.


The tortoise fell on his hands

and feet and with the adroit

services of a scraping shovel

began to shave the dirt away

from the face of the enormous

promise that lay beneath it.


He had not gone very far

when a blinding light threw, nay,

knocked him to his back,

for in one not-too-careful

scoop he had revealed

the radiant one in all

her beauty.


Picking himself up with the bounce

of a trampoline, he shielded his

eyes from the glorious gaze

with one hand, and with the other

continued to scrap away the sodden

earth from the radiant face of the beautiful



At last, the great beauty was revealed

in all her wonders, and this was no

little matter, for the light of the priceless

beauty was so powerful its fleet-footed

rays rose in majestic grandeur in a towering

beam from the bowels of the despairing earth.

So powerful was the light, its fleet-footed

rays immediately gathered up all

the watchmen of the night and shooed

them out of the sleep-laden town.

As it were in a dream, each animal

espied this glorious light, and taking

quick leave from the fabled one of the night

rushed out of their trusted hearths.


Dim, dim, dim, dim, dim, dim


They ran as if a nine-eyed plague

had set fire to their tails

until their singing feet came to rest

on that same piece of earth where

not too long ago they had pelted

the tortoise with the mildew

of his past mishaps.


Once they had formed a thick

knot around the gaping sore

of the earth from which came

beauty so glorious, each animal

had to shield his eyes, or sacrifice it

and go wandering in the desert

of the night for the rest of his days;

their spokesman, the hedgehog,

cleared his throat, once, twice, thrice,

for the ritual for the august occasion

demanded no less, and raised his voice

like a well-blown trumpet so

that the ears of the inhabitant of

the gaping earth could be the beneficiary

of his words.


Ah, ha, said the hedgehog, ah, ha,

dear Tortoise, ah, my dear, dear

tortoise, valiant warrior, the most

respected of all the animals,

O wise tortoise, what is the meaning

of this blinding light that seeks

to put the laughter of the moon,

and the radiance of the sun to shame?


Ah, ha, said Tortoise, ah, ha,

my dear hedgehog, ah, my dear, dear

hedgehog, tell me sir, my dear sir,

my dear, dear sir, what do you think?


The tortoise was in the best of his elements,

  his spirit towering as high as Mt.Kilimanjaro.


I guess we can see for ourselves, said the hedgehog,

almost chewing his tongue. If this glorious light

be not from the gem of priceless value

for which you went in pursuit, and for which

you have labored like the unceasing seasons

these past two days, I should go to my trusted

hearth and not venture out again, for wisdom

must have packed her bag and baggage

and left me in an unseeing darkness.


Wisely spoken, my dear hedgehog, ah, my

very dear hedgehog, you need not worry

that wisdom has marooned you on an island

and forbidden even her minions to sail

by your shores. You are wise, sir, and you

have spoken wisely. What more is there

to add to your sage words but to affirm

them firmly and that I do without

any reserve. Yes, sir, you are right.


Well spoken, my dear tortoise, well spoken.

Now, do be kind to hear what next is

on my mind, for I know that I speak

for everyone here. (The rest of the animals

nodded their heads as one.) It is clear to us

as the light of the fabled fellow of the sky

that you need help in ferrying up this

worthy gem from this woebegone cellar

that sits like a truculent wound on the face

of the earth.


Hum, hum, hum, hum, hum, hum


All the animals shook their heads

  in firm affirmation.


Ah, no grandpa hedgehog, said the tortoise,

his spirit stirring in him like the waltzing flight

of the eagle when his heart is merry beyond telling.

An animal who has dug all morning, all afternoon, O

my dear, dear hedgehog, and all night for a prize

such as this should have what it takes to take care

of her without interference from his neighbors.


Wisely spoken, ah, wisely spoken, said the hedgehog,

but don’t forget—a disconsolate sigh—that a stone

of priceless value is like the sun. She is not seen by just

one pair of eyes.


I know, I know, grandpa hedgehog—a sylph of a smile

spread across his face—but a gem is a gem, and though

other eyes might admire her, only one pair gets to keep her.

So saying, the tortoise hurled the gem of priceless value

out of the gaping wound of the earth, hoisted her onto

the back of his wooden horse and rode off in a cloud of hibiscus

dust into the still unfolding day.

© Copyright 2019 EZEH CHIBUOKE. All rights reserved.

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