The Baby and the Bird

by Diana L Paxson

Old Rome had many taverns
Devoted to the vine,
Where Ovid pledged each new love
In red Falernian wine;
Catullus, shamed by Lesbia,
Poured out his grief in verse;
Apuleus noted follies,
And pondered which was worse.

But the place that draws me ever
When my fancy's running wild,
Is a little pub in Oxford
Called The Eagle and the Child,
The Eagle and the Child, oh,
Or else, as I have heard
Its regulars all called it--
The Baby and the Bird!

The company was lively
In Soutwark's Tabard Inn,
When Chaucer and the Pilgrims
Were telling tales within,
And on the Canterbury road
They took that April day,
And at the other hostels
Where they stayed upon their way.


When Villon, gutter-poet,
Reeled through the Paris night,
Drunk on verse and hypocras
And looking for a fight,
The Pomme de Pin, the Cheval Blanc
All welcomed him, and more,
With wine at every table
And doxies at each door.


Of all the City's taverns,
When Bess was England's Queen,
The Mermaid, undisputed, ruled
The literary scene.
Each Global play was played again
And christened in brown ale,
Whde Shakespeare, or Ben Jonson,
Stood up to tell the tale.


Augustan wits made merry
At London's Cheshire Cheese--
The topic was no matter,
So that the manner please--
Be it Love or Politicks,
'Twas scandalous, I've heard,
And Johnson had his Boswell
To write down every word.

(REFRAIN) Asking,

They sing of famous taverns,
But considering them all,
The one where I had rather
Been a fly upon the wall,
Would be the Inn where Tolkien,
Lewis, Williams too,
Met with the other Inklings
Asking, "Who has something new?"

(copyright, Diana L. Paxson, used by permission; transcribed by David Bratman)

Diana L. Paxson, long-time active in The Mythopoeic Society, and in The Society for Creative Anachronism, is the author of many novels, including The White Raven, The "Fionn MacCumhal trilogy, and a trilogy on the Siegfried legend, the most recent volume of which, The Lord of Horses, is just out. She was a Mythcon XXI guest of honor, chaired Mythcon XII, has played her harp and sang and mounted several stage productions at past Mythcons. --David Lenander

I have recently received a brief description in words of The Bird & Baby, read this to see how Lynn Maudlin describes the pub.

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