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Song of the Men's Side

[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy]

Song of the Men's Side is a poem from Rudyard Kipling's book Rewards and Fairies. Peter Bellamy sang it on his second album of songs set to Kipling's poems, Merlin's Isle of Gramarye. He commented in the album's sleeve notes:

Guess work provided both the lyric and the music for this song, purporting as it does to come from Neolithic times! The verses come from the story The Knife and the Naked Chalk, which tells how a flint-worker of the Sussex downs braves the superstitious terrors which the forest holds for his people. He does this in order to obtain for his tribe “magic knives” from the iron-workers of the Weald, to help them in their struggle for survival against the wolves which yearly decimate them and their flocks. He has to forfeit his right eye to the iron-workers' gods, and as a result they come to regard him as a god himself. This is the ritual song of his exploit.

Lyrics

Once we feared The Beast—when he followed us we ran,
Ran very fast though we knew
It was not right that The Beast should master Man;
But what could we Flint-workers do?

The Beast only grinned at our spears round his ears—
Grinned at the hammers that we made;
But now we will hunt him for the life with the Knife—
And this is the Buyer of the Blade!

Room for his shadow on the grass—let it pass!
To left and right—stand clear!
This is the Buyer of the Blade—be afraid!
This is the great God Tyr!

Tyr thought hard till he hammered out a plan,
For he knew it was not right
(And it is not right) that The Beast should master Man;
So he went to the Children of the Night.

He begged a Magic Knife of their make for our sake.
When he begged for the Knife they said:
'The price of the Knife you would buy is an eye!'
And that was the price he paid.

Tell it to the Barrows of the Dead—run ahead!
Shout it so the Women's Side can hear!
This is the Buyer of the Blade—be afraid!
This is the great God Tyr!

Our women and our little ones may walk on the Chalk,
As far as we can see them and beyond.
We shall not be anxious for our sheep when we keep
Tally at the shearing-pond.

We can eat with both our elbows on our knees, if we please,
We can sleep after meals in the sun;
For Shepherd-of-the-Twilight is dismayed at the Blade,
And Feet-in-the-Night have run!
Dog-without-a-Master goes away (Hai, Tyr aie!),
Devil-in-the-Dusk has run!

Room for his shadow on the grass—let it pass!
To left and right—stand clear!
This is the Buyer of the Blade—be afraid!
This is the great God Tyr!