Jack Hardy — Lyrics for The Cauldron

Copyright © 1982, 1983, 1984, 1998 John S. Hardy Music

  1. Night Train to Paris
  2. The Siege
  3. Porton Limon
  4. Fallen
  5. The War of the Roses
  6. The Silver Spoon
  7. The Wren
  8. The Cauldron
  9. Ottomanelli
  10. Gretna Green
  11. Don't Tread on Me
  12. The Bells of San Blas

Night Train to Paris

all that is open is the window
i hold out my hand to the rain
the tracks are glistening in shadow
the ties, the steel, and the train
stand in the cold at the station
though it really isn't you at all
the snare of infatuation
the desperate ledge of a fall

take the night train to paris
hoping to escape all the rules
take the night train to paris
you hopelessly romantic fool

oftentimes love is a pageant
of kings and queens and of pawns
more often love it seems stagnant
the subject of tedious yawns
the theatre, the alleys of vision
the characters waiting to strike .
the collectors of garbage and wisdom
who catalogue all that is not right

i waited for the cafes to open
i watched pigeons peck in the rain
that endless rain of confusion
the cat in my lap did the same
i hated to disturb her slumber
sleeping so peacefully through the night
the unfinished letter lay crumpled
an unfinished heart has its price

The Siege

they are laying the siege
the queen has ordered the walls rebuilt
stock of provisions and stock of skills
they're taking their leave
friends abandoned in times of plenty
poisoning the beautiful moat with envy
and i had a dream of a lost little girl
who danced in lace and lightning white pearls
the dizzying circles that blurred my sight
as we looked to the tower where she appeared
each night

the siege is in force
the candle, the torch for the hungry men
hovering like drones in the poisoned pen
that intimate course
sucking the power from her lessening health
making her feel guilt for all of her wealth
and i had a dream of a beautiful woman
who gave all her strength in the birth of a son
the fullness she shone it was reassuring
her venomous anger restrained for once

the siege it is over
the walls are in the ruins of the harpers' tunes
they all run coughing from the smoke filled rooms
where are they, where
the silver's been plundered and stripped to the bone
the well's run dry, there is a cold hearthstone
and i had a dream that i saw it all
the old woman in darkness who screams in the hall
what little she has now is what little she had then
they all want it over though they know how it ends

Porto Limon

oh captain, my captain
oh who is my captain?
can it be that there is nobody at the helm?
can they dare call it reason
in the growing treason
when the king has somehow abdicated the realm

will they fall from the sky in the black of the night
will they crawl through the jungle at dawn
will they put in in the west down at puntarenas
or in the east at porto limon

i signed on in my youth, 
thinking there was but one truth
that this mission was sent for a merciful good
but when the port came in view
came a far darker hidden truth
that the cargo of business was understood

or they'll come through the banks
and the right-wing think tanks
multinational only means the people they cry
in the face of the reaper
you know the people work cheaper
keep a tight grip and squeeze all the freedom dry

oh captain, my captain
oh who is my captain?
can it be that nobody here is my friend?
for this history lesson
we will pay in aggression
that in business the means justify the end


fallen though the leaves were
blown against the fence
crossing there i saw you
your step was like a dance
the seasons they are changing
we cannot change them back
it's not for us to gamble
for we have changed enough
changed the ways of love

fallen like the freight trains
that used to cry the night
the freedom that was with pain
the escape to make things right
all of that is over
as i like myself beside you
it's not that i am older
it's just i've changed my luck
and changed the ways of love

fallen like the angel
who knows that faults run deep
and alters to erase them
the child who falls asleep
and somewhere in that dream world
that clouds before the dawn
he awakes to find the fear gone
and understands the bluff
we've changed the ways of love

The War of the Roses

'twas a bonnie bunch of roses that my true love gave to me
she courted me quite freely when she was seventeen
she courted me so fully that it went right to my head
and 'twas a bonnie bunch of roses that i left beside her bed

no, i never told a falsehood and i never told a lie
i just stretched the bonnie truth a bit until i said good-bye
but 'twas never my intention to go and make her cry
that bonnie bunch of roses was a thorn into my side

so i went off to seek my fortune as the only thing to do
i went and bought a racehorse who only missed a shoe
i was thinking 'bout the wagers and thinking 'bout the bets
and the bonnie bunch of roses
they would place around his neck

well, 'round the final corner and 'round the final peg
my bonnie bunch of roses went and broke his bonnie leg
and 'twas me who did the running towards the bonnie red sunset
'cause it weren't no bloody roses they were puttin' round me neck

so i went off to join the army as the only thing to do
the duke of york was drafting 'bout a thousand troops or two
and he gave us all a uniform and gave us all a nag
with a bonnie bunch of roses on the shield and on the flag

then he marched us 'round the town and marched us down the glen
and he marched us up the bloody hill and marched us down again
but there weren't so many coming down as there were going up
and 'twas a bonnie bunch of roses that we placed upon the plots

so i went back to find my true love as the only thing to do
i went and said "i'm sorry" and then i said "i do"
for she was full of surprises as soon it was i learned
it weren't no bunch of roses handed me on my return

and now i'm down to the pub most every afternoon
my pension buys a pint and the children ask a tune
sing "the bonnie bunch of roses" and sing it once again
that bonnie bunch of roses gonna be my ball and chain

The Silver Spoon

i saw them stand in line, the line went out of view
and in their hand a form, the dream had been confused
for they had all believed what steel and steam could do
that what the hand could offer was what the hand could lose
ah, but the dream is over, it has faded with the sounds
the knickknacks placed in corners to be dusted all around
ah, but the dream was grand when it held us in its grip
though we were thrown about in the storm of authorship

the child who cries at night is given a silver spoon
i wish that gift could be the forest and the moon
for when the child stops crying and wiles away the tears
the building's empty echo will last for many years
the man who looks about at the graying line of thought
the child who plays on concrete is what his time has bought
he does not believe it's over as he stands in line 'til noon
to find another job, to buy another spoon

ah, but the revolution that brought us here in droves
and flushed us out of farmland and out of scented groves
and crushed our winter wheat and bound our woolen threads
that glorious revolution is ingloriously dead
that the garden was forsaken and trampled all to ruin
that the gates shall also crumble and tarnish like the spoon
the line has now dispersed, home to the crowded rooms
to tell their children stories of the forest and the moon
to tell their children stories of all the silver spoons

The Wren

what could ever drive a man
to venture out in all this cold?
what could ever be the dream upon his mind
or the voice he heard come singing through the snow?
singing down down, bless this soul
singing down down, this i know
singing down down down down, warning must be sent
and by foot it must be brought and so we went
for the wren

when all the people are quite warm
except the few who gather fuel
they dread the wind when it gathers in the north
that causes all the gods to be so cruel
singing down down, bless this soul
singing down down, this i know
singing down down down down, to the forest end
and perhaps it might be there we apprehend
the wren

these of caution to be seen
abroad at night about the queen
when all the world knows that deep down inside
the burden of paradise is mean
singing down down, bless this soul
singing down down, this i know
singing down down down down, games of pretend
whether howling at the moon or magdalen
or the wren

a flock of birds must crown a king
against the wind and under wing
and never notice when the one in front he falls
and another takes his place to gather all
singing down down, bless this soul
singing down down, this i know
singing down down down down, hear the voices blend
though those who stand behind will not defend
the wren

The Cauldron

catharine had a calling in the woods
a secret spring that she knew well
she chased a man whose knowledge was mistaken
that his only weakness was the one she held

catharine, who misused the gift of sight,
was the woman on the hill
a will o' the wisp who held vigils through the night
who tracked him down to town against his will

and all he could change she changed as well
anywhere he'd hide she would find
the riddle she made she held the answer
'til he cursed the name of catharine to the wind

came the day when he traveled to the city
found a room above the stairs
the sleepless nights when the shapes and signs
would haunt him
at the answer to the riddle he would stare

now riddle me this: of a tree that is no tree
riddle me that: it is high yet low
when leaves are brown in the autumn it is green
and it heals though it poisons where it grows

catharine took a job in the city
selling apples on the street
she bid her time seeking solace in winter
she knew the time would come when they would meet

tired of riddles she had welcomed her prey
through the hallway to her room
the paint was peeling leaving red on the rug
where all she gained remained the same to lose

catharine slowly loosened her hold
to let him breathe and he fled again
to sow the wind she had given up control
to sow the storm she had wed the light and rain

and so in time he returned to the fold
with an answer upon his lips:
a heart cannot be protected from weakness
and on christmas eve betrayed her with a kiss


ottomanelli, his wife and two cousins
had crossed the atlantic to see what they'd find
one was a farmer and one was a baker
and one was a painter, a maker of signs

ottomanelli had one dream above all
to eat and to drink and to make wine in peace
he'd run from the fascists, he'd run from the germans
he'd now run a dairy farm in the northeast

late in the night he grew cold in the shadows
tried to recall his homeland, his dream
and all to what end were they following jesus
trying to focus and follow the gleam

because he believed in the pope he had children
there were more mouths to feed but more hands to help
to milk all the cows and deliver the produce
and help plant the corn and make wine in the fall

the years that were peaceful they soon were unsettled
by salesmen come calling with things they don't need
the children grew older, the children grew bolder
went looking for jobs to buy all those things

(repeat chorus)

the oldest went out, took a job in a factory
making the gunsights for colt m-16's
they were much in demand for a war off in asia
he worked overtime and grew wealthy and clean

one day he was watching a televised ball game
a can of budweiser and popcorn in hand
"we interrupt program to bring you the great news
the war it is over, your jobs have been canned"

(repeat chorus)

ottomanelli was too old to farm now
the fields they lay fallow, he sold all his cows
he could not compete with the lobbying dairy-marts
and their certified, pasteurized, homogenized now

and no one had learned how to plant all the cornfields
or help make the wine in the warm autumn sun
the real estate people want land to build houses
so where do you go when your dreams are all done?

Gretna Green

'twas not quite summertime out by the borderline
i stopped for thirst one day at a smith's along the way
and there by fireside was the brightest pair of emerald eyes
the belle of gretna green

her hair was golden brown if e'er one be so blest
black velvet was her gown, white lace upon her breast
a half crescent moon in silver on a golden chain
and so my heart was claimed

but she said she'd not be mine, for she'd soon be a bride
her man would soon arrive from the northumberland side
though it pleased not her clan that he be a highwayman
'twas safe in gretna green

i drank a sad farewell that night in starry spell
and as i bid good-bye the smith drew me aside
he said 'twas true enough that she be waiting for her love
'twas all in vain, in mind

ten years ago today, but seven miles away
the dragoons rode him down, 'neath blackford's oak h'was found
and no one to this day has had the heart to tell her his fate
that half crescent moon in his hand

and many the years have gone as i sing to you this song
she does not age at all and many for her they fall
and those of lonely bed can drink a toast to her instead
farewell my belle, my queen
the ghost of gretna green

Don't Tread on Me

you may see me on the corner with a big old smile
that says "don't tread on me"
with my hand on a bottle like a weapon in my hand
that spells my liberty
well, there ain't no work on a hot summer's night
you know there ain't no work at all
and a dollar and a quarter gonna buy another bottle
help me make it to the fall

i was itchin' for a fight when my country come a-callin'
i was educated for that chore
i believed what they said about fightin' them reds
and i marched off to that war
well, the only red i saw was blood on the field
and my bank account when i got home
and the red in the bottle that i thought that i needed
'gainst the nightmares of being alone

well, out in california th'got some very fine wine
and they keep it in the bottle 'til it's aged
and they know when they bottle that the rich gonna pay
so they place it in a wooden crate
but the poison that they bottle for a dollar and a quarter
you know it comes from the very same grapes
but they play the percentage that no one gonna notice
keep the poor man with nothing on his plate

well, this country it was founded on a flag with a snake
that said "don't tread on me"
and a flag with a chain with thirteen little circles
whose weakest link is me
when cannon fodder sells for a dollar and a quarter
how unlucky can one boy be
but i'm pledging my time when i break this bottle
and i say "don't tread on me"

The Bells of San Blas

the bells of san blas are still rung by hand
hand over hand the child climbs the tower
hammer in hand he rings out the hour
and all of the children are called to the rail
are called to the virgin, the cross and the nail
outside of the cathedral, caught in photograph
begins the procession, thy rod and thy staff

a lavender bead was found in the dust
lost from the chain that had crossed the gown
the pride of the family, the pride of the town
at fifteen years old the procession shall move
and fit into the church as the hand fits the glove
and out come the children chasing the rice
if they ever think once, they never think twice

sister anastasia came down from the clouds
from the city of angels to the city of bells
she offered her solace, she offered her help
she taught them the handcrafts, she taught them to smile
to sell to the tourists to help feed the child
the design of the snake caught in the beak
she came every year and stayed for a week

the bells of san blas were all made by hand
and carried by hand they spread 'long the coast
the bells of the missions of longfellow's ghost
the cannon are rusted, the bells have turned green
they traded their gold and their land for the beads
of the spaniards and indians the children remain
they still sacrifice virgins though the altar's renamed

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