Sunday 5 January 2020

The Giant Who Could Not Sing

by Nick Gisburne

There lived a tall and hairy man
Who grew much more than others can
Of all the giants he was king
Because this giant loved to sing

His words could reach the clouds, the Moon
But every note was out of tune
The giant’s voice was bent and cracked
A true but quite unhappy fact

Yet on a windy, woolly hill
The hairy giant sang, until
A tiny fairy fluttered by
And pointed at the giant’s eye

“That awful noise is not a song
The nuisance of your notes is wrong
It scares the birds, it hurts my head
It fills the bumblebees with dread”

“You must not sing! Your howling voice
Has really given me no choice
That wretched song will have to go
I cannot bear it, giant. NO!”

The giant took a breath so deep
The fairy had to twist and leap
Because his nose might suck her in
She hovered, just beneath his chin

Before the song escaped his throat
Before he sang another note
The tiny fairy made a wish
And waved her pointy finger, swish!

The giant’s mouth was open, wide
But not a note could climb outside
No horrid howl, no screaming shriek
The giant could not sing, just speak

“I only want to sing my song”
The giant said, “Is that so wrong?
If only I could sing to you
That’s really all I want to do”

“I try so hard, I try my best
I breathe in deep and fill my chest
But what comes out is what you hear
It’s terrible, I know. Oh dear.”

The giant now began to cry
But when his eyes were almost dry
The fairy knew what she must do
“Hey, I can sing, so I’ll teach you!”

“We’ll need a little magic first
Your singing really is the worst
But smile and try to do your best
And fairy dust will do the rest”

“The notes are letters – A, B, C
There’s D and E, then F and G
Just seven, all you need to know
And once you’ve got them, don’t let go”

“For each new note you learn to sing
You must tell me a secret thing
A story only giants tell
And I will add the magic spell”

The giant scratched his hairy head
“I think I understand,” he said
“A giant’s stories are the best
Like songs, I keep mine in my chest”

He sat and thought and thought and sat
“You know the Moon is round and fat?
Well that’s because we feed him cake
Until he has a belly ache”

“He eats and eats, but saves the crumbs
He likes to lick them from his thumbs
And that is why the Moon is fat
Do I deserve a note for that?”

The fairy laughed, “Indeed you do!
The first of seven, just for you
A special note to start the day
It’s yours now, giant – here is A!

The note flew all around the air
Then rested in the giant’s hair
It jingled, just a little bit
The giant liked the sound of it

“I know another, let me tell
It’s why our socks all need their smell
Without the smell a sock is lost
And giant toes may feel the frost”

“But when they’re washed, all fresh and clean
At least one sock cannot be seen
You may find one but rarely two
Without their smell, they hide from you”

The fairy danced and cast her spell
“You’re really doing very well
You’ll have them all, just wait and see
And here’s another – this one’s B!”

The fairy’s gift was bold and bright
The giant tucked it out of sight
He whispered in her tiny ear
“I know why raindrops disappear”

“They splash and scatter all around
But raindrops don’t rest on the ground
Look closely, you won’t find one there
Because they have no boots to wear

“Without its boots a raindrop lands
And walks around upon its hands
But so as not to look the fool
It slides into the nearest pool”

“I hope the reason now is clear”
The giant grinned from ear to ear
He’d earned another note, the C
Which curled up, cosy, on his knee

The fairy shone with silver dust
And cried, “Go on, you really must!”
The giant, resting on the floor
Now told a tale to earn one more

“What use does every little mouse
Have for a tail inside its house?”
The fairy thought, but could not tell
And so the giant told her, “Well...”

“They hang their underpants to dry
A fact that I can verify
For never have I seen one yet
Who wears his underpants while wet”

“The D is yours!” the fairy said
She placed it on the giant’s head
It was a darling, dainty thing
A light and lovely note to sing

The giant said, “It’s time for tea”
The fairy drank some. So did he
At last, when all was put away
The hairy giant turned to say

“Another truth we giants learn
Is why no flame can ever burn
The water in a cooking pan
Can you explain it? Giants can”

“However hot the flames may seem
No smoke is made, just noisy steam
And this, the hissing, makes them doubt
They fear that it will put them out”

The fairy clapped her hands with glee
“Enjoy your note, this one is E!”
An elegant, exquisite note
It hid inside the giant’s coat

“I have a tragic tale to tell
The secrets of a ringing bell
And why that bell should ring at all
Bells hate all heights, they fear the fall”

“A bell is made to sway and swing
But when afraid it starts to ring
‘Don’t let me go!’ the bell will call
‘Don’t let me break! Don’t let me fall!’”

“Each cry for help rings loud and long
A nervous ding, a fearful dong
A ringing bell is loud and clear
But not with joy, it rings with fear”

The fairy, serious and sad
Used all the magic that she had
To make an F, a fearless thing
The finest note a voice could sing

There was but one more note to win
The hairy giant scratched his chin
“The last of all is always blessed
This secret is my very best”

“All giants love the winter night
We learn why snow is always white
I’ll share the secret of the snow
Come, listen, fairy, then you’ll know”

“The brightest snow your eyes have seen
Is white because its teeth are clean
Each snowflake brushes daily, twice
With toothpaste made from crunchy ice”

“That’s why the snow is white and clean
Not blue or brown, not grey or green”
“Behold the G!” the fairy cried
It glimmered, golden, at her side

It was the seventh singing note
And now into the giant’s throat
The fairy placed them, one by one
The giant swallowed. They were gone!

“I promised you would sing in tune”
The fairy laughed, “You will, and soon
But rest awhile, and sleep tonight
And sing tomorrow, at first light”

The giant shook her tiny hand
And watched her fly to fairy land
He yawned and stretched, climbed into bed
And dreamed of what the fairy said

The sunrise chased the stars away
The morning of another day
And up a windy, woolly hill
The giant climbed to test his skill

He breathed his deepest, arms flung wide
And felt the seven notes inside
He knew the words, he knew the song
He sang it loud and large and long

But did the giant sing in tune?
Well, are there cake crumbs on the Moon?
Must socks be smelly to be found?
Do barefoot raindrops touch the ground?

Do mouse tails hang their pants to dry?
Can water make a hot flame cry?
Is every bell-ring just a scream?
Does brushing make the snow’s teeth gleam?

So many questions we may ask
But I will set one final task
And if you meet that giant man
Please follow this important plan

The hairy giant loves to sing
He is the undefeated king
But long before he lets it go
Just plug your ears and tell him, “NO!”