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The Ancient Lives of Storytellers (A Poem)

By Joyce Jacobo

[Author’s Note: I remember reading how itinerant storytellers, such as bards, used to wander landscapes and actually helped to keep the histories of certain places alive by their recitation of various tales–especially during The Middle Ages. This poem is dedicated to them.]

I have read that once upon a time

   storytellers would wander the land

   during a period where printed text

   came at a painstaking speed from monks

   and where very few people were literate

These storytellers kept within them tales

     to entertain crowds in countless villages

     sometimes with the addition of music

     but they also carried along the history

     of the lands through which they roamed

Royalty would invite storytellers to court

     for grand meals and to hear accounts

    of their proud ancestors down the centuries

     or to stir the patriotic blood of the warriors

     so they would know the reasons they fought

     in order to protect their homeland from harm

Some storytellers ventured around alone

     Others found companionship with caravans

     That carried other entertainers from place to place

A few storytellers retired to rich estates

      financed by gold given to them by kings

      while many more simply were nomadic

      fated to struggle from one moment to the next

But all these storytellers from by-gone days

      the ones who carried tales inside them

     were as living texts able to recite

     the narratives memorized with great care

     that resounded in their hearts and souls

Whenever a storyteller passed away

      it was the gravest tragedy

      yet others would remember them

      from the stories they told

      and in their performances


18 thoughts on “The Ancient Lives of Storytellers (A Poem)

    1. Hehehe, they’re still out there, I know, in different forms. I love the way they helped to preserve stories through the ages, and to remind the people in particular lands about their storied histories. There would likely be fewer tales fondly remembered today if they hadn’t passed along those oral tales, until some of them got written down.

      Audiobooks are definitely a great comparison!


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