How, in a hundred words, to sing their praise?
The force who face the plague from pole to pole
Who make our broken dreams a future, whole
Who free the lives the virus locked away.
How can I count their millions? Mending hands
That twice and more will take us by the arm
And teach our lungs to breathe, our blood to calm
To know, and scorn the pathogen’s commands.
How, summarise the fifteen billion acts
That finally cut the curve. The work, the woe
The hope and sacrifice behind the facts;
Between “vaccine” and “we are free to go”.
Leave history lab and leader, clown and crown.
When we are saved, it happens town by town.
These are the oaths a paladin would keep:
To do with honour what can thus be done;
To shield the threatened, comfort those who weep,
And then move on, once pain its course has run.
To neither scorn, nor be a slave to laws,
But do what’s right, then give the law its due.
To fight — but only in a holy cause,
And once a plea for peace has been refused.
To be a beacon, shining coast to coast:
A force for change that none need ever fear;
A friend to lost souls when they need it most,
Who does not need to say what deeds make clear.
To be a soldier with no martial heirs,
Who leaves, to souls of peace, a world that’s theirs.
It is the fate of paladins to fall —
Or else to stumble on, far from the Light,
Left lonely when their cause demanded all
And friends retreated for another fight.
Having no other beacons, they must shine
In lands left black and trackless — stars of hope
That leave behind belief in Dawn’s pink line
When they are snuffed beneath Night’s cloudy cloak.
The wards they leave are hot and iron-hard,
But even these are ashes in the end:
Strewn through dead fields by winds that leave stone scarred;
Consumed by rising depths that reap and rend.
When echoes end, the tallest walls are felled,
But grass sprouts green where Light’s last stands were held.
"A hero died today." These words alone
Were posted on the door of Daltham's Inn.
That was enough to make the tale known,
So often has the news of late come in.
Once did the Dalthams serve a well-worn road
Where travellers, traders, priests and troops would pass,
And often stop to set aside their load;
To sleep, or dine, or sip an honest glass.
But now a dragon soars above these hills
And asks a toll that few but lords could pay.
With flesh of those too poor, its larder fills.
Now only fools and slayers come this way.
Today they lost the last they'd hoped could win;
Tomorrow, armed, the staff will leave the inn.
I dreamed that writhing shadows wreathed a hall,
While celebration's song was heard within.
The lighted windows each in turn grew small,
As darkness piled up, then filled them in.
The music kept to perfect pitch and beat
While silence showed the screaming throats the knife.
The sheep and cows as one made their retreat,
And left the song the only sign of life.
The darkness rose, to snuff the stars, the moon,
And leave a world blanked out, but for the song.
I knew the sun would not be rising soon;
I knew the music would continue strong.
How long it held, and whether light returned,
I do not know. I woke before I learned.
Perhaps the truest heroes are the ones who don’t believe in them.
The final knight is fallen on the field.
The last great wizard living is laid low,
And everywhere do all Good's forces yield.
Without their will to guide, where might we go?
The souls that set the standard for an age
Are, each and every one, entombed and gone.
No more shall Light and Darkness battles wage.
No more shall fallen heroes be reborn.
What kind of horrors can be yet to come,
When all is gone that made the future bright?
What kind of people must we now become,
Now no-one's proud to stand for what is right?
The heroes of the past will not return.
The heroes of the future, we must earn.
Apparently today is the 101st anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. I wanted to post something matching that, but the closest thing I had ready was this.
Of late this land by evil hand was scarred,
Turned grey with ash and tramped by booted foot.
The farmers' fields were yielded scant regard.
The trees were warped and blackened by the soot.
The taint has gone, but still we mourn its mark.
There yet remains what good cannot undo.
The house rebuilt by bloodied silt still dark,
The twisted oak — they'll never be as new.
In its due turn this land will learn to heal;
Though never as before, all will be well.
Our new-crowned king will changes bring for real.
Clean rain will fall on fields as once it fell.
But that's to come. For now, we face our fate,
Resign ourselves to bear rebuilding's weight.
If you’re going to rescue the world from evil rule,
you have to start somewhere.
(No ROW80 update today, since I haven’t done enough writing.)
I'll wander Dreamland's roads, and here abide.
I'll learn to live alone, and from the start.
With all that failed once now cast aside,
I'll only own the beating of my heart.
I'll take my loves and losses as they come.
I'll not naïvely wish for what can't be.
I only ask things even out in sum.
That in the dark, hope won't be lost to me.
I'll meet my share of nightmares, and of knaves.
I know there's nowhere left they have not been
But still, hope lives while any flame yet waves.
Someday the ashen hills can sprout with green.
I'll give my soul another chance to heal.
Perhaps I'll soon move on to what is real.