Ballad of the Lost Bear

One of my dear friends in the Society for Creative Anachronism is a man named Ragi Warmbear, mundanely known as RJ. Ragi is one of the founding members of House Broken Axe and is a pretty handy outdoorsman. So when I heard the tale about how he got lost in the woods, I needed to write this song. I’ve taken some bardic liberties, but I think it still makes for a wonderful retelling.

Ballad of the Lost Bear
by Katherine Ashewode, “The Pocket Bard”
sung to the tune of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” by Gordon Lightfoot
July 2005

The legend is told ‘mongst the scholars of old
of a fletcher they call Ragi Warmbear.
Out huntin’ one day, seems the Bear lost his way,
and he just couldn’t find his way home here.

One morning in June, it was getting on noon
when he made his way out of the campsite.
He left in good cheer with a smile ear-to-ear,
said he’s sure to be back before twilight.

At quarter past five it was eating time,
and we sat ourselves down at the table.
Well RJ was gone but he wouldn’t be long,
‘cause his hunger’s sparked many a fable.

Halfway through the meal there’s a sound most unreal (“aooooohhhhh….”)
and we cowered and quaked as it mounted.
It might be a ghost and it sounded quite close
and we prayed that we wouldn’t be haunted.

We listened some more and it kept up that roar (“ooooooooo….”)
and we realised it wasn’t a phantom.
It sounded, we said, like old Ragi instead,
but not nearly as close as we’d fathomed.

He shouted and hollered, he blustered and cursed,
he said he was lost quite completely.
He’d gone off the path, couldn’t find his way back,
“Could we help him?” was his faint entreaty.

We paused for a while and we started to smile,
was this the great hunter of legend?
We laughed ‘till we burst but we knew we’d be cursed
if we didn’t give aid to our brethren.

We shouted “we’re here,” and he asked, “is it near?”
and we told him to follow our urgings.
We yelled back and forth for an hour or more
‘till we saw his great figure emerging.

The story I’ll save of his journey that day
but you’d probably laugh if you heard it.
He stepped on a snake and he fell in a lake
and he tore up his clothes in a thorn-pit.

We saw him at last and we just had to laugh,
almost naked and soaking and battered.
He grabbed a huge mug, drank it down in one chug,
and eventually joined in the laughter.

But e’re since that day when old Ragi goes away
to prevent having any more trials
he ties ‘round his waist a huge bell — just in case —
we can hear that thing ringing for miles!

The legend is told ‘mongst the scholars of old
of a fletcher they call Ragi Warmbear.
Out huntin’ one day, seems the Bear lost his way,
and he just couldn’t find his way home here.

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