Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Paladin

The Paladin

I rose from my trial and testing vigil
now a knight, God’s holy knight.
His fire was a flame I held within
a tremulous but incandescent light.

I set out from my high stone
seat, now a threatened tower
answering my sovereign's call
to break the Old Ones' power.

For the land was soured with the
bile of evil, bled by a heresy, sharp
as my father’s Damascus blade,
that cut and left its soulless mark

upon their faces, or their limbs, that
scarlet scrawl of Satan’s passing wing
shadowed, then tatooed blue with sin. We
found and burned them in their faerie ring.

We burned them in the towns, with ease. Our
horses drove them to the village square;
flames kissed the magic in them black
as pitch, and let it out with a hissing flare.

Their smell, their cries, they pierced and split
the misty air, deep red-edged as any sword
but we stopped our ears with writ, while in the
crowd, grey monks intoned the Blessed Word.

We watched the Godfires burn ten days
and nights, bright hot and ever brighter still
till I wondered why I felt in me such pain
to see the luminous working of His will.

When all was colorless smolder, ashen silence
I knelt in humbled fear before the priest
who called God's glory down to cleanse my soul;
from all misplaced regret he gave release.

But later at the inn when she brought meat,
somehow it had a smell too wrong to eat.

October 2011

Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poet's Pub

Mark Kerstetter is hosting today, and  has given us the fascinating prompt of entering into another persona, and writing a poem from another's point of view, from inside their skin, as it were. I don't know how successful I've been at completely escaping my own point of view here, but I have made a stab at it.


  1. We've written the same poem in very different words, dear Witch. Except your speaker has at least a shred of heart. Or is that just a sensitive stomach? Nicely written...this has the feel of a true knight's tale, right down to the bone.

  2. so how many HP did you lose in that battle...smiles. war what is it good for...even in fantasy...and in the name of God we raise our Damazcus blades and absolution takes appetite away...

  3. Hey Hedge - this really takes the reader inside with prescise description which poetically resounds and pulls at my image making machine - smells and all.

    you create a arena to roam and thats pretty cool.
    its also an escape - whci i could do with - a proper mental excursion into a story that has tension and classic suspension -
    "Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
    Cannot bear very much reality." -
    never a truer phrase written in poetry and you provide an antidote here

    thanks hedge

  4. You wrote this wonderfully, Hedge. I like the hint of remorse at the end.

  5. so much detail and intense... I would have thought you where there

  6. Tell me you didn't deliver one hell of a killing blow in this write! Oh...this is just awesome! LOVE! Seriously...yet another new favorite...I think it would be much easier on me if I just bunk down, here in the the hedgewitch groupie I am! lol One day I'll pen as good as you...actually scratch that, that would be way too much pressure!

  7. I see the appeal in the persona of crusader, who knows his righteousness and methods. I, as I'm sure you do too, continually question. I see you added his humanity there at the end (a bit of you perhaps). The paladin and his moral certitude, his devotion to the church, and his unfailing sense of duty are immaculately captured in your sense-enlivening verses. The soul crushing destruction it leaves in its wake is rending here. P.S. Thank you for being my ‘rescue reader’ today.

  8. Beautiful poem, wonderful wonderful finish.

  9. I agree with Anna, the speaker here is self-possessed, knows his cause is just and is stalwart in his duty to his God. I believe that's a knight! And of course you capture a sense of Old English - the term 'Godfires' is intriguing.

  10. this would sound so great recorded in a deep basso profondo...

  11. Great poem, Joy.

    Great choice for the pic. I know exactly where that one came from :P

  12. I did my homework. I know Roland to the Dark Tower Came and I know about the peers of Charlemagne. Perhaps this piece alone may revive the Romance of the French Knights. I suspect they fell from grace because of Bonaparte. Your knowledge of the Medieval is vast and it holds you in good stead because in this piece you become a piece of real legend. Excellent Ms. Witch!

  13. P.S. Didn't bother to tell you how well this works as a poem with the rhymes and rhythm and the subtle layering of meanings. I might know if there were no attribution that you wrote it..but I'm not sure.

  14. @Arron--yes, your Pig Boy could enjoy the roasting, I'm sure. Change can be good, but hope you don't ever change your way with the word.

    @Natasha: You are too kind--yours was really really vivid and good--but there's a bunk in back any time you need it.

    @Anna: Thank you--I had to do this one as a pure exercise in role playing. But this was as far from me as I could get into an Other. (And glad if I made sense earlier for you.)

    @skav; See, I'm pandering to your gaming tastes, luring you into the poetry trap.

    @Gay: I think they fell awhile before Bonaparte, perhaps when the Last Crusade went bust, but I'm sure you know way more real history than I. So glad you enjoyed, and thanks for reading. AFA attribution, there are only a few I think I could guess without it. It takes a very distinct voice for that.

  15. i love knight tales and yours was dark and sent shivers down my spine..what a lot of evil was done under the cover of fighting for a good cause...and the last line really drives it home

  16. Skilfully constructed and masterfully rhymed. Your images and cadences always delight and surprise me.
    Thanks, James.

  17. I think you've done very well at the persona poem...certainly better than I. LOL.
    you 'took a stab at it' and methinks you made your persona poem point.
    interesting turn at the end...completely throws me, the reader, off the trail.
    (wonder, was that tainted meat prepared by God?)
    good poem.

  18. Beware of the Godly for even God cries at their love...I imagine this poem is not your usual perspective!

  19. the last two lines are perfect.

  20. What a voice, what a skill to transform completely into another.

  21. Great poem Joy! Knights of armor can have reflections of awe and romantics built around it. The rhymes you have skillfully maintained throughout. Excellent!


  22. Oh wow, this is more cool than you could've known. When I was going through some of my old character sketches I almost chose one of a twelve part mythical set of epics I did a while back. This is an amazing rendering of a Paladin, really, really awesome write and read, thanks

  23. Dunno what happened to my earlier comment -- the gods struck me down -- but this was a stellar bit of characterization. When you can argue exactly the opposite of your point (OK, not exactly, but well along an extreme), then you know what Shakespeare was about creating selves. This crusader would be a complete Other were it not for that nagging bit of something that makes him question eating his meat. Is that the Christian pride or ennui for the old times? A nice little gap in the end. Stellar effort, H. - Brendan

  24. @B: The Blogger gods can be cruel and sudden..I've fished several comments out of my spam folder, but not yours--I assume the void ate it. Thanks for returning for another go. AFA the meat, I hope that's his humanity peeking through--surely even a fanatic questions murder occasionally? AFA creating selves, Mark mentioned something about being 'the one who hates you' That was where this one started, and I hope I hit the God parts right--you know, for a female pagan agnostic/atheist and all. ;_) Glad you made it by.

  25. This is just perfect, Hedge. I wish that I could write like this.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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