A travelling Showman collects as he goes
and lest you should be in any real doubt
know what he collects the travelling man shows.
The Wolves are Running, as Someone well knows,
but though it’s the snow that brings the Wolves out,
the travelling man still collects as he goes.
Someone, if seen, isn’t safe from his foes;
when asked where he is it is best you say nowt,
for what he collects the travelling man shows.
With Barney dog, pack, and his travelling clothes
will the Showman escape? Will he still go about?
The travelling Showman collects as he goes.
The Wolves are still Running; it thaws and it snows;
and people they’ll scrobble, and laws they will flout,
yet what he collects the travelling man shows.
But hope still remains, despite all those woes,
that humans and wolves he will put all to rout:
a travelling man collects as he goes,
and what he collects the travelling man shows.
A villanelle inspired by John Masefield’s The Box of Delights (1935) and incorporating key phrases from the fantasy