Death and the Magician

Over a period, I wrote several poems which featured a dying or wounded magician, sometimes as the central character, sometimes mentioned in passing. This one was deliberately constructed to resemble a ballad, especially after the first introductory verse.


This is the poem that spellbound a group of 60+ people from the University of the Third Age group in Harwich when I read it at a festival event.  It has been published in “Troubador”.




One day the magician came to me and said,

The fish are leaping in the yellow stream

The oak has turned into an acorn small

And I saw Death in dream.


And I saw Death in dream, he said,

And Death was very kind

He showed me where the roses grow

Though I’m old and blind.


I’m old and blind and lame, he said,

The sea is out of sight

The shell is empty on the shelf

Through the woken night.


The night is all around, he said,

It closes hour by hour

The voices make me fear, my friend,

Should a proud man cower?


But should a proud man cower, my friend,

I think perhaps he should

The wine is turning sour, my friend,

But the bread is good.


The bread of death is good, my friend,

The bread of life is fine

And now I’ve understood, my friend,

Will the starlight shine?


And will the starlight shine, my friend,

And will the starlight shine?

Now let us touch the vine, my friend,

And we will drink the wine.



copyright Simon Banks 2012


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  1. Very powerful indeed! And for me so reassurng…loved it Simon.

    • Thanks, neel. That’s good. Now an interesting question would be, “Who is the magician and who is the narrator?” On one level, a magician – an old man experiencing the things old men do – and the magician’s trusted friend; but I think the magician represents the creative in us, so the other person is – the rational consciousness? Human compassion? God? Whatever the magician will become next?

  2. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

     /  July 18, 2012

    oh I do like this Simon….
    I felt like I was sitting in a darkened pub lit by candle light,
    eavesdropping on a conversation….
    I wait ti see what cloak the magician shall put on next, perhaps a “Sgae” so he can return to Earth and be a guardian of Her?

    Thanks Simon…always love wandering through your thoughts
    Take Care…


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