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The Tale of the Golden Yak


Lyrics: Master John Inchingham            
Music: based upon “The Worm Song,”
            - a traditional children’s ditty




Chorus:
Oh! Yeah! The . . .
Good ship Jubilee sailed into the China Sea
To find fortune but when she came back;
There in her hold, instead of gold,
Was a hairy yellow yak!
Verses:
Our strange tale began when we hatched a plan
For to trade with far Cathay.
So a ship was filled with the wares of the Guild
Of Basket Weavers’ Bay.
Savy, salt-sea smart was Captain Bart.
Bon voyage to the great unknown!
We all feared he’d been eaten by an oriental demon
Till the day he returned home.

Well the cheering paused and we dropped our jaws
When we spied that flaxen yak.
We’d expected jade or silk brocade
Or clever little knicky-knacks.
To exchange fine crafts for an ox seemed daft.
We were miffed to say the least.
“Pray tell us now, Captain, just how did you happen
To acquire this shaggy beast?”

Captain Bart said, ‘Friends, let your worries end.
The winds of fate blew our boat fair.
We were smiled upon by the heir of Kubla Khan,
Who did barter for our wares.
I asked for ivory and bronze, beads and bangles and gongs;
But the king said to me, “Pshaw!
Who need that cheap bric-a-brac? I give you my magic yak,
Who can make gold out of straw.”’

We cried, “Bart, you dope, forget your ox-drawn hopes—
Our crop of straw last year was bad.
Every loft is bare—not a stalk to spare.
We have woven all we had.”
“Now don’t be foolish,” said Bart, “just take your baskets apart
And try to tempt this bovine’s tongue.”
We did as we’d been advised and soon, to our great surprise,
We had a boatload of yak dung!

We’d swapped nice merchandise for heaps of goopy cow pies—
‘Twas a clue our cruise had failed.
Bart’s venture we did repent. We tossed the yak excrement
On our newly-sown straw fields.
By dusk, the boat was demucked. We stood there, cursing our luck,
When the captain came back aft.
Yes, on the poopdeck he stepped, beside his cud-chewing pet,
And they both began to laugh.

Mad as bulls on stampede, we charged at Bart, who yelled,
‘Please! Stay your wrath till morning-time.
As wise men say in Cathay, “Good fortune falls where it may
And not all that is gold doth shine.”’
On this we pondered all night, but then beheld by dawn’s light
A miracle had changed our land!
For in the fields there now grew, not straw but hybrid bamboo,
A mix of cane, wicker and rattan!

Now Bart lives on the ship with his amber yak, Chip,
But there anchor never weighs;
For the captain supervises while his comrade fertilizes
Our cane plantation everyday.
We no longer braid straw into baskets . . . pshaw!
. . . ‘Cause rattan is grander stuff by far.
We set our craft prices high but sales still outpace supply
At the Lucky Lummox Bamboo Bazaar.

Our revised guild makes . . .
Rafts and spear shafts and menagerie traps;
And we weave lawn furniture.
We all got gold by the cart, thanks to smart Captain Bart
And his magic yak manure!
Final Chorus:
Oh! Yeah! The . . .
Good ship Jubilee sailed into the China Sea
To find fortune but when she came back;
There in her hold, instead of gold . . .
No! There in her hold, on a PILE of gold,
Was a hairy yellow . . .
Yak-a-dak-a-dak-dak!

Lyrics © 2002 Steve Katlack
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