The Lesser Tragedy

The miasma of grief, the woe, the hate;
The space that's left when you've run out of tears.
The wedding dress that will forever wait;
The nursery door jammed shut for scores of years.

The signs upon the bridge you always change
To bear your name, which they will change to theirs;
The useless trinkets sent in mean exchange
So you can talk of trade, and not of heirs.

The houses, grey as warships, ringed with walls,
Their gardens fertilised with ash and bones.
The silent dances, faking ancient balls.
For fallen foes, a cairn of tiny stones.

Two households old, whose dignity doth fade;
Their lovers each a separate marriage made.

Fear Not!

In cities floating free upon the seas;
In ruins, long abandoned to the crows;
Amongst the elves, who live atop the trees;
I've fought the monsters every culture knows.

My mission stands: to slay each thing of fear,
That even fear itself must learn to die.
To truly say, "There are no monsters here."
If children can demand that, so will I.

I've wandered far beyond familiar lands;
Against my foes diverse, I've strived and won.
There's blood of every colour on my hands,
And one last bullet ready for my gun.

In slaying fears, I've earned a fearsome name;
One final death will end that final shame.

The Fourth Age

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.

Freedom to Fall

Some villains are born evil, some are forced into it, and some embrace it wholeheartedly.

It is by choice I take an evil path;
By choice I'll pay my price when it falls due.
Until that day, I'll not forget to laugh,
And live the more because my days are few.

I worry not about my coming fate.
Perhaps I'll die; I'd go without regret.
Perhaps for death I'll years in boredom wait.
I only know I'll honour what is set.

Until that day, I'll show the world I'm mad.
I'll paint the cities pink! I'll weave the roads!
I'll start a truly stupid clothing fad;
Fill every thirteenth mailbox with toads.

I'll stories leave, for those who do not die,
And all who come to read them will ask "Why?!"

Reflection (ROW80 Week 3)

Most of the writing I did this week was notes on research for a non-fiction project. I tried reflecting on it, but it seemed like a lot of it was already reflection on the research, so I’m not sure how useful that would be.

Instead, I’m reflecting on a sonnet.

I was trying to write a poem that sounds like it’s talking about an evil overlord, but turns out to be a metaphor for something else. That meant I was a lot more analytical about writing it than I usually am, since I wanted all the lines to make sense both ways around. My usual experience is that being analytical doesn’t help my writing, so I’m worried I’ve not written it all that well.

Reading through it, I can spot several points where the phrasing doesn’t really work. In trying to come up with something that fits the literal meaning, the metaphor, the rhyme scheme, and iambic pentameter, I’ve stuck words together in ways that aren’t really very grammatical. That actually looks like the sort of thing I could fix in editing. However, “apply your left brain” doesn’t seem likely to fix errors caused by being too left-brained.

On the other hand, I tried editing it a bit while writing this, and I think I did fix most of the more glaring flaws.

While I’ll reserve judgement on the poem itself — I usually leave them a few weeks before deciding wether they’re worth posting — there is one definite good point to all of this. So long as I’m attempting things I can’t do easily, I’m hopefully learning how to write better poetry.

The Aftermath

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.

The Straight and Narrow Wall

I wanted to post a sonnet for the Ides of March (the anniversary of Julius Caesar’s death), but I couldn’t find the one I thought I had. So here’s one that at least starts with someone dying.

The tomb is sealed, the lord of Darkness slain,
The sound of funereal dirges dies away.
The victory of Good is now made plain.
In years to come they'll celebrate this day.

I was a villain's captive; now I'm free.
I held for evil hate; now I must ask
What in this world of good is left for me,
When all the things I knew are decades past.

I did learn things beneath an evil throne:
From where the minions come, and why they serve;
How best to bury flesh and blood and bone;
Against the end, what must stay in reserve.

I'd hate to harm the world as it harmed me,
But there's no harmless choices I can see.

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.

A Valentine’s Day Sonnet

Last week I realised two things: I was due for another sonnet around Valentine’s Day, and the sonnet is traditionally a form of love poetry. Hence this piece of writing.

A heart that beats has not yet turned aside.
A tongue that still can speak might not refuse.
Live through the moment and enjoy the ride;
Let what has been make up for what you lose.

Don't clutch the friends you have, the life you live.
Seek greener grass! Aim for a brighter star!
In each new love, have all your heart to give,
And swear to keep the faith when you're afar.

Live so you'll know they never will forget
What you once were, or who you've now become.
Ask for "not much", but treasure what you get,
And brighter shine to know your time will come.

[Ignore the whole of what is said above,
For evil things can nothing know of love.]

Hindsight

Some people make a point of giving the villains a chance to repent and be forgiven before defeating them. The narrator of this sonnet wasn’t given that offer.

Though it won't matter now, I've changed my mind.
On random towns, I'll no more force my will,
No more send out my troops to maim and kill.
Good reasons to were getting hard to find.

Fame, I have won; of fortune had my taste
— Enough to seek it by an honest path.
Power had me. I lived on its behalf,
My own regime's chief tool of laying waste.

From all of this, there's lessons I have learned.
What goods evil can buy, and at what price.
The measure of my virtue and my vice.
And that I won't escape what I have earned.

And still I feel, as I prepare to die,
A path that taught so much is worth a try.