Poem: The Tale of Tristram Gnome
The Tale of Tristram Gnome
Tristram Gnome stood up to leave the beer-stained bar,
Leaving the last drops of buttercup beer lying in his jar.
He staggered from the Lark’s Nest, quite ready to go home;
It was a very merry evening for this tiny, tipsy gnome.
Tristram swayed through grassy lawns and over dewy moss
Tripping over stalks and stems, bumping into flower pots.
Quite tiddly with that golden juice, he threw his arms wide,
Then with a loud, voracious voice began singing to the sky.
Tristram halted in his tracks, amazed by what he’d seen,
For all alone was a lady gnome standing in a bright moon beam!
He smiled and introduced himself, but she was far too shy to speak,
So he sat by her side and sang of the tide of love within his heart.
And he told her of his pretty home in a cave below a rose bush;
Told of his work for The Gnome’s Gazette, of promotion with some luck.
Tristram hadn’t the least doubt that his heart’s promptings were right;
What could this be but affinity, and gnome-love at first sight.
But the buttercup beer took its toll as Tristram sat by her feet,
And very soon the young gnome yawned and fell soundly asleep.
Yet his dreams were filled with the lady gnome, to him, a magical sight,
And Tristram slept through many hours, snoring gently through the night.
Morning came and Tristram woke in a warm and sunny haze,
Dreaming yet of future years and shared, perfect days.
He stretched and turned around to speak to his dear lady gnome,
And his blood ran cold in horror as he realised she was made of stone.
Great silver tears rolled down his face; he cried till his eyes ran dry.
He wailed and sobbed and wrung his hands, desperately asking Why?;
Trembled, shook as grief wracked his limbs – then on the clock’s twelfth stroke,
He gazed upon the lady gnome, and died as his tiny heart broke.
Play the audio version of the Tale of Tristram Gnome.
The sound recording above was broadcast in September 2005 as part of Cath Bore's show for 7 Waves Radio, a Wirral radio station going out on 92.1 FM.
Along with other members of Riverside Writers, I regularly guested on Cath's show, usually to read short stories which were broadcast live on air. The Tale of Tristram Gnome was well received and generated many emails and texts from listeners.
It was fellow Riverside Writers' member Tim Hulme who asked the radio station for a digital copy of the show, and with the station's permission he edited out everything other than our contributions and put these onto CD for participating members. So it's thanks to him that any recordings of our broadcasts are still available.
As a cryonicist, I couldn't resist inserting a quip about Tristram Gnome's lack for foresight regarding cryo-preservation. See if you can spot the tongue-in-cheek graphic about cryonics and cryo-preservation in the video sequence.
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How the Tale of Tristram Gnome Came to be Written
The Tale of Tristram Gnome is one of my oldest surviving poems, and dates back to May 1983. I was a college student at the time, and also a member of Leigh Writers' Workshop which used to meet once each month in a tiny room above the Lamp bookshop in the small town of Leigh, in Lancashire, England.
This poem came about as a result of me being given the task of re-painting my mother's collection of garden gnomes. Dad always had a pile of almost-empty rusty paint tins, along with a collection of grotty brushes crammed into jam jars filled with soupy turpentine. The brushes had been left in the turps so long that most of the bristles fell off the instant I tried to rinse the gloop away in order to use them.
It was while working with this motley collection of supplies, painting cheery faces onto otherwise concrete-grey garden ornaments, that I began wondering what a real elemental might make of these gnomes. And so the idea for The Tale of Tristram Gnome began to take shape.
Publishing Credits for The Tale of Tristram Gnome
- A Wigwam to Wind the Sun Up; Lone Rider Publications; June 1994.
- Rhyme Time #2; ed. Allison Magee; June 1996.
- Hallow-Zine; ed. Neil Rhind; October 1996.
- www.druidry.org/board; March 2005.
- (broadcast) 7 Waves Radio; Cath Bore's show; September 2005.
- Threads; Middle Eye Press; January 2012.
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© 2016 Adele Cosgrove-Bray