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.
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.”
Once, there had never been a silver sea,
No empire of heroes, nor a mage;
No reigning kings nor rogues of fantasy.
Such things lived in the screen or on the stage.
Then came the day when demon knights arose,
And beasts of mythic might came forth to feed.
Who else but legends could such things oppose?
We learned the heroes' arts, and claimed their creed:
"The higher heights and deeper depths to plumb;
Of arts arcane and engines strange to learn;
To do the deeds that leave mundanes struck dumb;
To live a shorter, but more worthy term."
The legends false and ancient fade away,
Now heroes true and living rule the day.
There comes a time when bridges must be burned;
When Fate demands too much to let you share.
When youthful loves and friendships must be spurned
And fire flood the streets, to clear the air.
There comes a time when sanctuaries close.
When seals and solemn vows must lose their force,
Their might made moot by ever-greater foes.
And all you have is courage, and a cause.
There comes a time when doom can wait no more;
What's left of hope, you gamble in one blow —
Let dice a lifetime falling reach the floor.
Here fates conclude, then let the living go.
Till that uncertain day, when all quests end,
You shall not taste the world that you defend.
This is in response to the current Weekly Writing Challenge (write a haiku a day).
I wrote each haiku to match a Tarot card I drew that day.
Tuesday (Page of Pentacles, Nine of Wands)
(two, since I missed Monday)
The town hall clock strikes.
Noon. At rest from market day,
We eat our lunches.
I braved the wilds
Full of thorns and goblin thieves.
I've finally reached you.
Wednesday (Four of Cups)
The face in the pool
Danced with mermaids, fathomed seas.
Why can't that be me?
Thursday (Knight of Wands)
I live to save you
From monsters, armies, demons.
That's a hero's life.
Lay down your weapons.
Come and go amidst the springs,
Meet in holy peace.
And one more, for luck
I accidentally got the card for Pamela Coleman Smith, who illustrated one of the best-known Tarot decks, so I wrote a haiku for her as well.
Fate had a hand here?
I put pen to paper, brought forth
Your source of meaning.
There stands a Law, as certain as the Sun;
The Book to match the Scales, and the Sword.
An Act no mortal strife can see undone
— a virtue without fear, without reward.
The Scales weigh as true, only the truth;
The Sword will strike at nothing but the crime.
Immortal Justice needs no mortal proof,
No fractured juries free to take their time.
The Law does not stay crouching in the light
When darkness hides the truth, or shields the wrong;
Though monsters — tempters! — wait beyond my sight,
The Scales know that I am just as strong.
Before the Sword, I vow to find the proof
Show all the words they questioned were the truth.
There's nothing strong enough to keep you chained,
Nor locks to hold you out, or keep you in.
Your might grew greater as my allies' waned.
We fight once more, and you will surely win.
You have not taken up my offered words.
It pains me that you won't choose to atone.
But in your greed you guzzle meat by herds;
Your choice would be a future filled with bone.
I am not you, to kill you like a cow;
I'll leave your meat uncut, your skin unflayed.
I'd lift no blade if less could stop you now;
But for survival, guilt is fair in trade.
Thus I —
I cannot strike the fatal blow.
Promise me change, or anything, but go!
Time was, I found adventures everywhere:
One moment home, and duty called me forth.
So many times, it was too much to bear,
And every small request would earn my wrath.
I realised it was foolish to go on;
My doing good would leave me meaning ill;
I swore that no more uniforms I'd don.
Then came a foe that only I could kill.
I said I'd serve again, but knew I lied.
I told myself this fight would give me peace.
Though hard I tried, I faltered.
Before I mustered will to match the beast.
Now as a coward I am widely scorned,
And since I left, each day has empty dawned.
I've fought the villains of the world, and won;
My monument in every town will stand.
A new and virtuous era, I've begun.
But I've regrets no-one will understand.
As prophesied, a hero I became:
First was I pure; secondly, I fought —
In battle gear worked hard to earn my fame,
And brought the count of minions down to nought.
But now, I find there's nowhere left to turn.
The world in need of saving, I have saved.
To life that once I lived, I can't return:
I still want things that, leaving home, I craved.
'Twere better, had my death been by the sword.
These years of peace will bring me no reward.
(The hour was around six in the morning, I think.)