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This poem is taken from PN Review 82, Volume 18 Number 2, November - December 1991.

Two Poems John Matthias

THE SINGER OF TALES
(for Charles Simic)

I

It's a strange sound
the first time you hear it

it's a kind of moan
& the old man bows in his lap

on the one taut string
of his gusle

warming up as if he were a kind of
West Virginian or a

Smoky Mountain fiddler
but the blues he has to play

the sorrow he will tell goes back
six hundred years

then it was almost too much to bear
but now he sings

II

Nothing of it written down
before the 1600s
...


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