Hear you this tale of purest love
set long ago in ancient Babylon
where hanging gardens draped the palace walls
it was the travellers dream to tarry long.
The Queen had built a city fair
the houses standing two by two
were covered by a single span
so, closer then the neighbours grew.
Under one such roof there lived a pair
divided by a mud brick wall
they met as children, friendship grew
and in their youth their loving conquered all
Pyramus was a handsome lad
much sought by maidens for a mate
yet shy, sweet Thisbe was his choice
though she’d been dealt another fate.
In dark of night when non were near
they’d creep to where they found a chink
between the brick work in the wall
and each the other’s loving words did drink
Never touching, yet their loving grew
until it overwhelmed the youthful pair
Thisbe wept for love of him and he for her
they decided then their lives to share.
When all were sleeping, she would to Ninus’ tomb
and shortly after when the coast was clear
Pyramus would follow and the two would meet
beneath the mulberry tree which did grow near
Thisbe, she slipped quietly from the house
her lovely features covered by a silken veil
she did not hesitate or wander from the path
her love, her Pyramus she would not fail.
Pyramus, he was delayed by family and friends
he managed to escape their watching eyes
and hurried to his lover’s tryst with Thisbe fair
in so doing, they would sever family ties.
While waiting long for Pyramus
sweet Thisbe rested ‘neath the tree
until there came a fearful, terrifying roar
and scared, near to death, the maid did flee.
Her veil she dropped, in haste to run
to seek the shelter of a hidden cave
and unbeknown, until too late
it’s loss did end their plan so brave.
A lioness, fresh from a kill, with bloody maw
drinks from the brook ‘til thirst is quenched
she spies the veil and rends it with her teeth
touched by bloodied fur, the veil is drenched.
Now hurries Pyramus and comes upon the site
No Thisbe waits to greet him with a kiss
Where could his dear one be, what could be wrong
He sees the silk and then, a beat his heart does miss
Oh torn and shredded web of mist
is this the blood of maiden fair
are these the marks of lion’s claw
has it devoured my love most rare?
The Mulberry tree keeps silent witness
unable to convey the truth
of fleeing maid and lions roar
it cannot aid the distraught youth.
Pyramus is soldier trained and armed
with honour and his battle blade
He feels his honour now besmirched -
for being late has killed his maid.
He draws his sword and as a soldier stands
he drives the point into his side
and then upon the blade he falls full force
His death will save his family pride.
A fountain of his blood is sprayed
upon the Mulberry fruit so white
and thus it was the fruit turned black
the colour of the darkest night
Now Thisbe comes and finds her love
and drawing forth the sword from his torn side
she prays and drives the blade deep in her breast
then falls she too and with her love her spirit does abide.
The prayer she made beneath the Mulberry tree
is heard by all the gods and from their funeral pyre
the ashes of the pair are mixed into a golden urn
the two, at last, have gained their hearts desire.
A sorry tale of love that never was fulfilled.
Now, when you eat the fruit from any Mulberry tree
just spare a thought when fingers stained you spy
for that sweet Babylonian pair Pyramus & Thisby.