The Baby and the Bird

Old Rome had many taverns
Devoted to the vine,
Where Ovid pledged each new love
In red Falernian wine;
Catullus, shamed by Lesbia,
Poured out his grief in verse;
Apuleus noted follies,
And pondered which was worse.

But the place that draws me ever
When my fancy's running wild,
Is a little pub in Oxford
Called The Eagle and the Child,
The Eagle and the Child, oh,
Or else, as I have heard
Its regulars all called it--
The Baby and the Bird!

The company was lively
In Soutwark's Tabard Inn,
When Chaucer and the Pilgrims
Were telling tales within,
And on the Canterbury road
They took that April day,
And at the other hostels
Where they stayed upon their way.


When Villon, gutter-poet,
Reeled through the Paris night,
Drunk on verse and hypocras
And looking for a fight,
The Pomme de Pin, the Cheval Blanc
All welcomed him, and more,
With wine at every table
And doxies at each door.


Of all the City's taverns,
When Bess was England's Queen,
The Mermaid, undisputed, ruled
The literary scene.
Each Global play was played again
And christened in brown ale,
Whde Shakespeare, or Ben Jonson,
Stood up to tell the tale.


Augustan wits made merry
At London's Cheshire Cheese--
The topic was no matter,
So that the manner please--
Be it Love or Politicks,
'Twas scandalous, I've heard,
And Johnson had his Boswell
To write down every word.

(REFRAIN) Asking,

They sing of famous taverns,
But considering them all,
The one where I had rather
Been a fly upon the wall,
Would be the Inn where Tolkien,
Lewis, Williams too,
Met with the other Inklings
Asking, "Who has something new?"

(Diana L Paxson)

Diana L. Paxson, long-time active in ‘The Mythopoeic Society’, and in ‘The Society for Creative Anachronism’, is the author of many novels, including The White Raven, The "Fionn MacCumhal trilogy, and a trilogy on the Siegfried legend, the most recent volume of which, The Lord of Horses, has been published recently.

When I'm in Oxford I often go there for lunch - they do a decent pub lunch. The Eagle & The Child is on the west side of the Woodstock Road just as the Banbury Road is forking off of it, about 1/2 mile north of the city centre. They have a lovely display of photos of the Inklings, and the lyrics to "The Baby and The Bird".
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Nomad said...

Hear hear! Encore! (I pound my pint pot on the table)

Good fun!

Apologies for lowering the tone, but its name had degenerated to being often rendered 'The Fowl and Foetus' in my day!

Arevanye said...

Wonderful Roger! Thanks for posting that--I'll bookmark it for sure.

I've been eavesdropping on the Mythopoeic Society Yahoo group for a couple of months now. They have some rousing discussions on there!