It is an ancient traveler
who stoppeth one of four.
"By thy long grey beard and haggard look,
you seem near Death's grim door!"
The traveler stops him with his gaze.
"We were a merry crew.
The bus was clean, the driver keen,
the kitchen filled with stew.
We trundled down the beaten track
like sardines in a can;
Martin, our leader, named each tree
and expounded on his Plan.
John the driver rode each bump,
ignoring every plea,
remembering how once he nearly
won the World Grand Prix.
Martin named each tree and bird
-and anything that passed-
each name at least two syllables
longer than the last.
The bus stopped dead and Martin said,
"Let us walk a mile or so
because the sun is bright and warm
...and because the bus won't go."
Four times we walked, while John stripped off,
and muttered muffled curses,
while Martin named each branch and leaf
from scraps of Latin verses.
Said John, "I'll try real petrol next,
and curse the mongrel who
sold me that cheap but secret mix
of hydrogen and glue!"
We sat and glanced as birds flew past,
gone just before we looked,
starved through the days so we would praise
whatever Brendan cooked.
Next day, "This spot looks good," John said,
with an apologetic cough,
"for food and rest and swim,... and because
the wheels have fallen off."
So Martin took us off again,
and baffled us with Latin,
while John said things as dark and black
as the pool of oil he sat in.
When suddenly a flash of flame
seemed to suddenly engulf
a strangely smiling man with horns
whose perfume reeked of sulphur.
"Who are you, some great forest spirit?"
we cried, trying to grovel.
"Why, Martin and John's command of Latin
has summoned up the Devil!"
He took them both; and starved and drawn,
just as you see me looking,
we wandered lost for fifteen years,
surviving Brendan's cooking!"