Robert Hunter – “St. Stephen” (1969)

September 15, 2008 at 6:42 pm (Poetry & Literature, The Grateful Dead)

Saint Stephen with a rose
In and out of the garden he goes
Country garland in the wind and the rain 
Wherever he goes the people all complain

Stephen prosper in his time
Well he may, and he may decline
Did it matter, does it now?
Stephen would answer if he only knew how

Wishing well with a golden bell
Bucket hanging clear to hell
Hell half way twixt now and then
Stephen fill it up and lower down, and lower down again

Lady finger, dipped in moonlight
Writing “What for?” across the morning sky
Sunlight splatters dawn with answers
Darkness shrugs and bids the day goodbye

Speeding arrow, sharp and narrow
What a lot of fleeting matters you have spurned
Several seasons with their treasons
Wrap the babe in scarlet colours, call it your own

Did he doubt or did he try?
Answers a-plenty in the by and by
Talk about your plenty, talk about your ills
One man gathers what another man spills 

Saint Stephen will remain
All he’s lost he shall regain
Seashore washed by the suds and the foam
Been here so long he’s got to calling it home

Fortune comes a-crawling, Calliope woman
Spinning that curious sense of your own
Can you answer? Yes I can
But what would be the answer to the answer man?

High green chilly winds and windy vines in loops 
Around the twined shafts of lavender
They’re crawling to the sun

Underfoot the ground is patched
With climbing arms of ivy wrapped
Around the manzanita stark and shiny in the breeze

Wonder who will water all the children of the garden
When they sigh about the barren lack
Of rain and droop so hungry ‘neath the sky

William Tell has stretched his bow
Till it won’t stretch no furthermore
And/or it will require a change that hasn’t come before.

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