Many years ago I became interested in all sorts of weird stuff. I had tried spiritualism and séances and was impressed by a TV programme on hypnosis and people regressing to a previous life. Well, that very night I decided that I would try to imagine what I might have life I might have lived before.
Now I make no claims about the following , other than to say that that night I had the most vivid dream. So vivid that it stayed with me, over the next six or eight days I jotted down what I remembered. I’ve used rhyming couplets simply because it is an easier way of describing places, events and people etc, without having to set scenes and lengthy narrative when a few choice words can provide your own imagination to do the work.
I hope you, and maybe others, find it interesting.
As a country lad raised by the moor, near Tavistock our Town.
I was, fifteen summers blest, and loyal to the crown.
King George the third, the Farmer king, was worshiped in the west
In seventeen ninety five we lived, in God’s ways I do attest.
The war with France had taken lads much younger than my years
But I was bound by bonded deeds, which saved my Mothers tears.
The summers eve, and by the fates my master bid me take
His mutton, goats to Plymouth town, his gout had worst of late.
But being just a bondsman’s boy, learning I’d not known
And so my master did provide, a parchment I could show.
With words in print and a man by name, my Master told me seek
His cousin Blain, the auctioneer, to sell the herd of sheep.
With Tess my dog and, vitals packed, we set our pace next mourn
A gruelling slog of twenty hours, we neared by early dawn.
By twelve of noon, the pens I’d set, and to master Blain I’d bid
To auction all the sheep, as sent, as well as goats and kid.
The bids came fast with nods and grunts, with pace the auction went.
And money pledged in word of bond, and some in coinage spent.
When all was sold and the stock led off, Blain showed me each bright coin
And bid me keep them safe from harm in a buckled purse they’d join.
This money belt of strong stout leather, around me I did wear
In which my masters money sat, placed with the greatest care.
Light was my step to a lodging house, with sleep my main intent.
First warm vitals then, to wash and rid the smell of sheep – I meant.
Rested then, a wondrous thing, an evening free to roam,
To see the ships from foreign lands, such stories I’d take home.
A marvellous sight, a town of size of brick and timbered walls,
With crowds all rushing hear and there, and noise of vendors calls.
Be sure I saw the strangest sights, the chandler’s shops the mills…
Each wonder soared my soul to heights, my heart the warmest thrill.
Along the Hoe, the sea l saw, then to harbour town we drew
The port, the inns, the sailing ships; sight on sight, anew.
Tess and I spent many hours just watching the world go by
Roping, loading, furling sails, all in a dusking sky.
The Saracens head, a drinking house, drew me as a flame…
Loud singing rounds and drinking ale; an innocent, I would claim.
Bright night is not for shepherd lads, nor inns and noisy places.
Rough seamen singing drunk and loud, some old, some, with `tattooed faces’
Seated on a three leg’d stool, just inside the door
A dark man beckoned me to come; I really wasn’t sure.
Innocents, as I and Tess, saw drink as came in pewter
Such bawdy rhymes, and women looks, I failed, to heed my future.
His words were fast, some were strange, perhaps French or Portuguese
But he smiled a lot and bid me sit, and put me at my ease.
He asked if I had tasted rum, or spirits rough with cider,
I told him “I – was Churchly raised, and never tasted either”.
He called a maid to fill two cups, with drink he termed as grog
And while I tasted such a brew, he petted Tess – my dog.
He told me of the time he fought, the Frenchy, off Boulogne.
But fortune now was in his mind, he’d fore-share a merchant’s coin.
At length we talked of what I did to earn my daily bread
But when he asked my masters wealth, caution – whispered in my head.
I changed the talk by showing keen to hear a seaman’s yarn.
But never did I once intend to leave my Masters farm.
A tale he told of hobbling chains, of death and the slavers trade,
How months at sea killed many men, no earth to be their grave.
After just a while and four more drinks, I thought this man my friend
So fool was I – I took a coin from my money belt to spend.
Soon my head was light my mind was dim, as if, in an evil curse.
No better for the stupid act – the coins now borrowed from my purse.
Again and again we drank more grog, with money, drawn from plenty
All caution lost I saw myself spend sovereigns out, like gentry.
With warbled mind, sweet Tess I called to homeward, take me lead.
To issue one foot, for my brain was more than I could heed
And dark of night I set forthwith to seek my lodgings rest,
And that my heart was the last I saw of my dear friend sweet Tess.
Through bleary eyes a sudden rush of sailors rough and armed,
My future gone my fate was sealed, no more a boys life charmed.