Knight in the image of knighthood,
Sword of the peaceful and poor.
Light to the lowly,
Shield of the suffering,
Life, laid down for the law.
Hero of tales at bed-time?
Faith, given flesh in the square!
Voice of our virtues,
Check to our passions,
Champion, in our despair.
Friend to our face — to the faceless.
Ally, above and below.
Grace of recovery,
Great, yet fated to go.
It seems the duty of a poet, now
To set in solemn phrases, words of weight:
Discourse on love — or oftener, on hate —
But always with a high and furrowed brow.
It seems the place for poets nowadays
Is either in the gallery, or pub:
The one, too fine for tainted mortal taste;
The other only fit for sweat and mud.
Our gift, too grave for light and lying tongues,
Too ancient for the fashions of today,
We’ll leave to more aesthetic lips and lungs:
Re-gift our hymns to souls that lift away.
Don’t think of those who fall! That sinful sound?
The fruit of labours profane, not profound.
The reed stands tall,
Smokes a last cigar, then
Bends before the flood.
A belated response to Monday’s Daily Prompt
Upon your friends list, leave an empty line
In memory of the voices stuck on mute,
Whose cause the imp and angel both malign —
Yet neither knows — yet neither needs refute.
Once statesmen spoke, and papers spread their words
To frame, in every soul, a fixed debate.
Now headless feeds writhe into forms absurd,
To mock, appeal, cajole, and obfuscate.
Where once the papers came by ones and twos,
And all the village knew what each decreed,
The screen hides hydra-headed multitudes
Behind a name that swears to every creed
And yet is silent where it matters most.
What choice, what balance, in the screaming host?
Sir Simon was a hero with a sword,
Who gladly fought for glory, wealth and wine.
No gold, nor ruby dragon ever roared
That could defeat Sir Simon in his prime.
Von Argash was an undead lord of note,
For cruelly keeping slaves, known far too well.
Sir Simon cut his bony neck and throat,
And let his captives out of every cell.
Dame Eileen was a knight Sir Simon knew,
A monster-slayer, and his fiancée.
When next he greeted her, she ran him through.
Then met dead eyes. Then slandered night and day.
Von Argash cursed his killer, “Take my face.
Then face my foes, and suffer in my place.”
The late, long day is dying in the West.
The ants and eagles sleep. The bulls digest.
The message-doves seek out their cotes, well fed
And twi-lit roses bloom a deeper red.
The wood is cut. The hay is stooked and stored.
The scythe and axe have found their just reward.
Worn hands relax. Dry lips seek drink and song
And aching legs yearn for the dancing throng.
The fiddle finds a tune that cannot end,
The wine and cider flood from glass to glass,
And joy abounds in every lighted space.
The moon will reach her peak, and then descend;
The countless stars will scatter and grow sparse
And dawn rouse ruin on a night of waste.
Once in ten thousand times, a life is lost
That cuts across a column of the free.
The thousandth family grieves the lethal cost.
The State regrets; a hundred friends agree.
By ten percent, the rank and rule expand
To take revenge on Luck and laughing Fate.
They amputate Misfortune’s bloodied hand,
And halt the wheel that sped to Pluto’s gate.
Now railings run beside the winding track.
The deer that gambolled learns a pace sedate.
A toddler dances on the cliff, steps back —
and firm hands snatch her from the pull of Fate.
On Fortune’s wheel, the skull spins past again.
She laughs. “One in a hundred thousand, then?”
The Art is complex. Any single spell
Demands its own well-chosen stones and herbs.
Preparing these, as wizards once knew well,
Was boredom fit to strain the strongest nerves.
Great spells were wrought, to end this patient pain.
Now would-be wizards only need a bag.
You reach within, and ask in language plain
For gem or feather, leaf, or lump of slag.
No-one need wonder whence these tokens come.
But I was curious. I learned a charm
To find where any object’s path begun.
I swear that I was not intending harm!
The source I found: six sorted heaps in Hell.
Those dread gates crack again with every spell.
The spell component pouch has an interesting history in D&D.
Here’s to the days before the world was broken,
When foes came one by one, and none too strong!
Then Danger reigned, but Doom had not yet woken;
Then hope survived for peaceful lives and long.
Those loyal friends — they gave beyond all duty!
Here’s to the nights ’round campfire and table,
When pranks were played for laughter full and free!
Those songs segued to pleasant dreams and peaceful,
And in dawn’s clashing chorus, we’d agree.
Those lovers’ trysts — the last we knew of beauty!
Here’s to that hero’s era halcyon,
Before we fell too far, nor faced defeat.
Before the death, the torture, and temptation;
Before becoming what we tried to beat.
The willow wandered, drifting on the stream.
A bough, torn from the trunk and tossed away;
By tempest cast at bridge and dam and beam.
Small wonder that it sought a place to stay.
A stretch of slowing water, green and still,
With rocks enough to grasp ’til roots could grow.
Clean air, clear light — of each enough to fill
All worldly need a willow tree could know.
In time, a track; and then, a gravel road;
The prints of feet too fast for trees to see;
An axe, too swift to feel. Young seeds, un-sowed.
Then flame and ash, to set the water free.
The trees, too bold to learn the land they took,
Had boldly, blindly, grown to choke the brook.