House Arkeep Press, c1996
I leave this at your ear, for Callie Larsen
le Chevalier sans Coeur
It has been almost two years since the release of my first booklet of poetry, The Errant Knight, in early 1995. The journey since those days has been long indeed. The following collection is a selection of the more than one hundred poems written in 1995 and the first part of 1996. Most, though not all, have dealt with medieval themes or events within the Society for Creative Anachronism (mostly within the Kingdom of An Tir).
My love of medieval poetic form continues and I am proud that in September 1995 I became apprenticed to Baroness Keilyn FitzWarin, Mistress of the Order of the Laurel, editor of the Ars Poetica Societatis, who lives in the Kingdom of Atlantia. She has been a constant inspiration.
It has long been my hope that some progress has been made in the "errantry" begun in my first book. While perhaps it is presumptuous, it is my hope that somewhere along his path the knight achieves day and the darkness is lifted by the light.
Such was my feeling when I knelt in pilgrimage at the tomb of William Marshal at London’s Temple Church in August 1995. And perhaps, like Sir William, “the best knight that ever was”, my Knight Errant may finally be laid to rest. Perhaps as Tennyson said in the _Idylls of the King_ we can hope that "he gave and slightly kissed the hand to which he gave the Diamond, and all wearied of the quest leapt on his horse, and caroling as he went a true love ballad, lightly rode away." A fitting epitaph for a knight-errant and troubadour.
Some of these poems have already seen print in various SCA newsletters and one nationally published magazine. Just in case some chroniclers or editors wish to publish any of these poems, I hereby grant permission to do so with the following restrictions. They must be published unedited. They must include the note: “reprinted by permission from A Long Knight’s Journey Into Day by Richard A. Edwards (Sir Richard Fitzalan, Baron), Copyright House Arkeep Press, 1996”. I would also appreciate a copy of any such publication being sent to me at the address below.
As always, I welcome comment on my poetry, for even with the changes of life, I am a some-time poet and every student needs good teachers. I may be reached at 3802 22nd AVE SE, Apt. A, Olympia, WA 98501 or email@example.com
(aka Richard Fitzalan)
Olympia, WA (Glymm Mere, An Tir)
This booklet is dedicated, as ever am I, to my lady-love.
I would like to thank all those on my editorial board who read through
over 100 poems to select the 35 used. This publication would not have been
possible without them.
That board consists of my squires, Lord Serjeant Stergar the Smiling, Cian MacDara, and Lord Connor McGuire; my fellow poets Sir Brand McLiam, Master of the Pelican, Baroness Keilyn FitzWarin, Mistress of the Laurel, the Honourable Lady Wynefrid Sealbhach Colquohoun, the Honourable Lady Genevieve sens solatz, Lady Adriana Capelletti, and Vivienne Leynier de la Renard; and my dear friends and editors Her Ladyship Ceara a’tuath, Lady
Livia Montgomery, Lady Gallant Catelin Spenser, and Lord Hraefn mac Thaidhg.
Special thanks to Baroness Keilyn FitzWarin, Mistress of the Laurel,
and the lady to whom I am apprenticed for the study of poetry. As she once
instructed me, so I have tried to do:
If words come rough and ready from your pen But seek to speak the verses of your heart Then scribe them out and look at them again To see if they are worthy of your art. Then read them over, sounding out each word And listen to the rhythm and the rhyme. Pay heed to what you've learned and what you've heard, And count it out again. Then take some time Put it away and work on other things Let it ferment and grow inside your soul Til once again your heart to that tune sings And words leap out all fresh and new and whole. Then give it to a kind and thoughtful friend Who'll mark it up and turn it end for end. - Baroness Keilyn FitzWarin
To which I did reply with:
Oh Teacher Mine : a sonnet of sorts. The first quatrain (four lines) did come out fine Though feet and meter were a little rough; Confusion pushed its way between the lines But import was still there more than enough. The next two pair of lines, the second verse, Let substance die to feed poetics' art; As words came quickly, meaning grew the worse, And English fled the stage for better parts. The third quatrain now wandered where it will, Across the mountains' teeth and leafy wood, Until at last the trail-line ended chill And left the reader lost and boy but good! The couplet then I tossed at farthest end, With meaning lost, but yet its rhyme did blend. #142 Shakeyspearean Sonnet
Unwoven lies my heart as thread by thread The strands unwind from what had been my past; As Coronet which once had graced my head Now gently has been laid aside at last And lady too and love have I misplaced With no warm sun nor cloak to fight the cold While now alone more colored threads unlace And all I do is ride the circuit bold To learn to be a worthy, honored knight As strings retie me to the chivalry Which guides my hopes and twines with strands so bright In prayer to weave a better man of me. Must we all reach beyond where pattern lies To find the golden thread that runs cross-wise? #137 Shakespearean Sonnet
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Around the council room two knights do walk Each armed alike with sharpened minds to think As both now healed by virtue of their talk Do no more grapple, fall, or further sink. Their armor fit and polished bright as sun Which shines on them as brothers now in joy Who combat once before in pain had done On noble field their honor now employ. The luster of their hopes give guiding lights As challenges do draw them forward still And blow by blow they fight as valiant knights With both rebated sword and sharpened quill. Some days the path is clouded in the gray But arm in arm they walk it come what may. #113 Shakespearean Sonnet
Once was a knight, so I am told, a man of brave array
Who rode across this An Tir land and sparkling woods of fay.
His crested helm upon his head, his lance in his hand lay,
As he long sought some lady fair with whom to have a say.
In farthest North at last he found his loving lady bold,
And she to him did speak full worth and many stories told,
Until at last he knew he must admit his heart be sold;
His love to serve and solace bring meant more than shining gold.
So being brave, he had to ask if he might for her fight
And honour her his lady fair and love in true delight;
She granted him his dearest wish and made him her own knight,
But on him laid this limit dire, 'twould last til just that night.
And so he rode and sang her song and fought with might and main.
And on that field he honour found much thereby both did gain.
But rode the sun down from the sky to set upon the plain,
As colours turned in western view and did his vision stain.
So saddling his fastest steed he rode into the west
In vainest hope to ne'er star see; he thought that it be best
If he could stay the lady's knight forever without rest.
And so he rode and spurred toward sun so hoping to be blest.
So fierce he rode, but still the sky did draw a darker hue.
And though he looked but toward the West he knew the eastern view
Would growing show the coming night and soon a star or two.
And so he turned for he was bold and loyal, tried and true.
There as he knelt upon the grass the first star winked at him.
It's heaven light he cursed with pain for having shown its glim.
For now he must own up to trust though tears filled eyes to brim,
For now his heart which shone so bright must join the sky so dim.
#203 La Cuaderna Via
My warm breath quickens
As words churn from deep inside
And race to escape
But teeth's gate closes on them,
Waiting for your ears and eyes.
I leave this at your ear for when you wake,
This small and silent rose to speak for me
Whose colored kiss I leave your cheek to take.
My words wrapped round the stem I leave for you,
In goss'mar writ to find their way to dreams
Reminding us of when our world was new.
So, smiling apparition that you are,
Go joyous to your sleepy wanderings,
But come again to where I'm not so far.
The bloom now comes with words that loving ache
As greenest tendrils grow from stem; in hope
I leave this at your ear for when you wake.
[based on "I Leave This At Your Ear, For Nessie Dunsmuir" by W.S.Graham]
There's but one coin that can be spent.
It can't be borrowed nor be lent.
It can't be saved or held in part.
It must be given from the heart.
Our choice but one, whereon to spend
This coin, which strongest man can't bend.
For through our hands it flows from vault
And buys our joys, our loves, our faults.
'Til one day when the bank runs dry,
That day of course, the one we die;
For time is all that we can give
The only coin, the life we live.
#144 Rhymed Couplets
Poem giving Pleasing, smiling Stergar of Wessex Song Giver Makes courts More pleasant His strong words History remembering Fergus calls Fearing nothing Stergar answers Singing praises Giving gift of Golden verses Poem I now sing Praising Stergar #136 Anglo-Saxon Verse
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The sliver moon hangs low in red’ning sky, My soul there hangs in tattered remnants torn; Where once the stars did guide my wand'ring eye Now blood drips slowly from the dusky horn. Where have the shining knights all gone to rest? Why can't I lift my sword just one more time? When did I lose my vision of the quest? How can I find the path past this steep climb? God grant me strength to move my tired feet And lend me aid once more to armor me, Again to struggle, these hard trials to meet, To stand upon the stars, that sparkling sea. To win or die I care not much at all But pray please give me strength to stand up tall. #157 Shakespearean Sonnet
Winter winds spread venom
White rust in pale night sky
Dying comes doom dealing
Dag's Nag races southward
Skoll kills sun-dogs sleeping
Svalvin's shield must yield now
Wain's wheel I bite gaining
War-frenzy more lost hope
Wolves howl bitter wailing
While the young sun dies.
#179 Drottkvaett (Norse)
by Andrea Chavez and Richard Edwards
The earth from 'neath my feet is gone And stars are gone from sky. There nothing is to draw me on Save dream of lover's eyes. This blackness does engulf me now As if I sleep while wake. No star to guide this course of doubt While I my weeping make. But o'er the clouds of darkness lay A star so bold and bright E'en black clouds throughout the day Fair glow beneath its light. Above those clouds still shines the moon And stars do sparkle still 'Though one’s life may be out of tune Sweet nature never will. #126 Rhymed Couplets
'Twas winter when we entered in the hall Where outside cold and rain showed darkly gloom And season's change did prove itself to all With early nights approach to seal our doom But where the children played in joy inside And friends all gathered in the warmth to see I witnessed there the sun in splendor rise As joy agreed to sit and feast with me. The happy evening in my mind's eye twirls With finest food and games and kisses sweet As dancers spun across the floor in whirls And all about then sang or stomped their feet. Such pleasure's rare in lonely errantry This to enjoy and let the future be. #132 Shakespearean Sonnet
She pulls the strings that stitch the wounds so deep Upon my heart and tearing scars that bleed So that the blood runs down my hands and seeps To pool in darkling cup to drink in need. As flow from trickle to a river now Becomes, and passion leaks upon the floor, So too does fading love turn loose its vow Until the stream subsides and goes no more. Then can the wounds be healed without the ties So that though there be scars which leave their mark, At least at last I dream no more of lies There in the hidden warmth of bloody dark. So sear my flesh and press the iron hot And cleansing burn this wound I would have not. #127 Shakespearean Sonnet
I "Oh, what can ail thee, Lady Fair, Alone and sadly loitering? The winter's snow lays on the land, And no birds sing. II "Oh, what can ail thee, Lady Fair, So grieving and so sadly torn? The hearth is warm and beckons us, Ale fills the horn." III I see the clouds upon thy brow With melancholy laid thereon; And in thy eyes the lightning rays Where no sun dawns. IV I met a lord once in the fields Full noble, he a faery knight; His arms were strong, his heart was bold, And his eyes were light V He set me on his prancing steed And I beheld naught but his grace; While sideways he would bend, and sing With smiling face. VI I made a poem to share my heart And robes of rainment embroidered; He look'd at me as we did love, And sweet moan heard. VII He found the way to feed my soul With honeyed words and eyes of blue; And surely he must mean to say, I love thee true. VIII He took me to his castle gate, And there we went to tower wide, And there I kissed him thousandfold-- And nothing denied. IX And there we slept twined as a knot And there I dream'd, ah doom to me, The worst, sad dream I ever dream'd, He smiled with glee. X Many women shadow dark I saw death-pale cry out in pain "Le Chevalier sans Coeur hath thee Added to his train!" XI I saw their lips part in warning, Part in kiss, make opening wide; Thus I awoke and found me here With none beside. XII And thus I find myself in gloom. Alone and sadly loitering; While winter's snow lays on the land, And no birds sing. #187 Adaptation [based on "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" (The Beautiful Lady without Pity) by Keats.]
Amid the winter chill which never ends
Your image still before me lovely lies.
Your beauty shines and summer once more lends
Its warmth to thaw my frozen heart, which tries
To beat again despite the hopeless pain,
As fevered soul now strives to find a way
To kindle hope once more where there's no gain
No matter what my loving past might say.
So take this effigy from out my sight!
Return it to the grave where it belongs:
Send me my steed and bring the spurs of night
To hasten me to lands of other songs.
So vision bright I bid you to depart;
I must this picture tear or else my heart.
#178 Shakespearean Sonnet
by Sir Brand MacLiam and Sir Richard Fitzalan
A fluid moment trapped in golden haze
Of whisp'ry threads, which hardens movement fast,
Held smooth against the grind of eons graze,
Long lasting like the fear of childhood's past.
Then light does pierce this prison's amber hue
And chases darker shadows to their doom,
Revealing answers from when years were few.
Let simpler times lend aged truths new bloom.
Make sound again the heart whose beat was stopped
To race once more, through veins, this blood reclaimed.
Then climbing self-scarred mountain's face of rock
To stand in heaving breath now unashamed.
From lumps of coal which store the ancient past
Comes heat and diamonds' sparkle now at last.
#121 Shakespearean Sonnet
Come to me love, for I too long have been
Alone in sadness and in grief too old,
With hopeless gaze and teary eye have seen
The lengthy night and winter's sorrows cold.
Now with the dawn of Springtime's glossy sheen
Again I ride on honour's field so bold,
To seek an end to tales too lonely told
And pray at last among the leaves’ green fold
Comes to me love.
Now radiant enchantress, my heart's queen,
Before me stands in distant lands of gold
While I in haste find wounds of past whose mould
But clouds the unknown path which lies between.
So stand I still and give my hand to hold,
Come to me love.
We reach beyond our grasp like hopeful child Toward colors bright, which tint the essence bold Of everything that grows upon this wild And start’ling world whose textures run from gold To brown of earthen strands. Their woven threads In moving weave create a tapestry, Which links in art all things from flowered beds To poet's dreams and weaver's artistry. For surely never more alive can be A woman or a man than one with eyes That can beyond the darkened edges see And share that vision, that most worthy prize. The greatest gift of all is always art, The treasure most rare built deep in our hearts. #123 Shakespearean Sonnet
by Lady Adriana Capelletti and Sir Richard Fitzalan
Soon Summer's herald will before us come
In tabard green with wand of budding branch,
To stand at court and greet his Mistress Sun
While newborn Hope and Joy about him dance.
As children grow so does their love in time
To warm the land which blooms beneath their feet,
A tapestry of color so sublime
It breaks the hearts of men, and angels weep,
Whose tears now softly fall as golden rain
And where they gently land they seed the ground.
Then with her kiss, sweet Sun will soon ordain
The seeds to bloom; fair flowers will abound.
So turns the world from colors grey of hue
To many bright and thus the earth renew.
#189 Shakespearean Sonnet
Once I had a treasure chest And key to turn the lock. The other day I opened it With passing of the clock. But deep inside the old worn box Was naught but spider's web. That empty bin was all that's left When pleasures had long fled. And so at last I tossed the key From off my lengthy chain. What use a path to nowhere or A track without a train? Smile I now to think how long I kept that tarnished key. I need no more of that old hope I need a brand new key! #128 Rhymed Couplets
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Oh, once there was, so I am told, a knight, a chevalier,
Who rode across the countryside, wild beasties for to slay.
His arms were blazed upon his shield, his helm was on his head,
And where he fought his foes were found in pieces lying dead.
But though this man who rode so long had sought with might and main,
No lady did he have to love; his loneliness was plain.
Until one day a tower he spied, a'standing all alone.
He rode up to the castle keep and heard he low a moan.
"What HO!" he cried "Who's there inside? What evil bothers thee?"
"Come tell me all and I will be a friend to thee, you'll see."
In tower tall at the window was a lady all in light
Who peered down to the waiting lord who glow'ed in the night.
"My lord," quoth she, "I'm trapped, you see, in darkness all alone.
And thus it is I cry and weep and you have heard my moan."
"Fair maid," said he, "I'll rescue thee if you come down the stair,
For I find you exceedingly both beautiful and fair."
But tower stood between them now, as stout as it could be.
No hope it seemed could come to them without a lengthy siege.
But she slipped down the castle wall and fell into his arms,
Where he caught her and held her close to keep her from all harm.
"But no!" she cried "My oath and pride are tied up in my room.
And so I must return again or fate will seal my doom."
He cried in pain and lashed about with flailing of his sword,
And in his fear he wounded both, as she turned to her lord.
He cried aloud, "I sheathed my sword. Come join me on the field."
He sang to her "Come to me love, and I will to you yield."
And so she came once more to door and peered beyond the wall.
But "No!" she cried, would not be pried, to come where she was called.
"Good Sir" quoth she, "Now this should be, I must abide my time
While you stay there. Do not ride off, and trust one day I'll climb
Down from this room, I'm sick of gloom, and join you on the hill.
So sit you down and please don't frown, just rest and be you still."
"How long?" he asked, "is this to pass, before you come away?
There're dragons in the wilderness and monsters for to slay!"
She turned and looked with tears in eyes to see if he would stay
But there were no more words to speak. They both had had their say.
And so she went into the hall to speak unto her lord.
To make a peace unto her heart and leave his hearth and board.
That taking time, the seasons turned until she left the door.
She feared when she walked up the hill she'd find an empty moor.
But there upon the soft, green grass with horse tied to the tree
Lay her own knight, in soft delight. Asleeping there was he.
She knelt by him and kissed his eyes and woke him from his bed.
And speaking words from their true hearts knew no more need be said.
And so he gently lifted her up on his noble steed,
In joy rode off, to who knows where, a brilliant star to lead.
So here I stand upon this land to tell you one and all:
Be patient with a love so true, should grace upon you call.
#140 Rhymed Couplets
In far off lands, like Italy, there flowers bloom I'm told;
Each grows in time as seasons turn their colors growing bold.
This garden with its rippling streams is lovely to behold,
As side by side do joy and dreams multiply manifold.
And all this beauty bounded is by high and stony wall.
But one way in, through lonely gate, whose doors do rise so tall;
Its pillars made of ivory, of gold its hinges all,
The carvings shine unearthly bright, its angels seem to call.
So many come and press the gate and trample all around,
Their dazzled eyes upon the door, their feet upon the ground.
They dance and leap to see such work, they frolic, rush and bound,
While underneath their flying feet crushed flowers there are found.
In April comes one more to see the garden with its door.
Enchanted by the fragrant blooms I sit upon the floor
To smell the earthy, heady scents and flowers there adore;
The beauty of the gate is nice but I love gardens more.
#195 La Cuaderna Via
His Duty sent him to the tournament Where Friendship put a smile upon his face, But Loneliness still followed where he went While Honor bade him take his rightful place. Then Pride did force his search to wander far As Lust now gleamed to see young maidenhead, And Envy tried to his own wisdom mar While Coveting the night with partnered bed. But Courtesy did raise his eyes to her Who Inspiration brought with lighted stare, And gained by greater Chivalry to spur His deeds of Prowess bold beyond compare. This day of patient Joy with Beauty bright Gives Hope and Fortune to this wand'ring knight. #115 Shakespearean Sonnet
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If it be your will I shall bring my worth To where and when you say on any field, And there with honor strive, with gentle mirth, To strike a song with sword-play's sound on shield. A tune of friendly love in ballade rhyme To please all ears on which it falls by chance. And to such music in this courtly time, Let's learn and teach the joyful steps to dance. I can but little offer lady mine, For no more lands have I nor treasures rare. But I will strive to give you all that's fine, Treat every hope and pleasure with due care. Now I shall take up sword and put down quill To crown you May Queen, if it be your will. #214 Shakespearean Sonnet
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by Vivienne Leynier de la Renard and Richard Fitzalan
Soon Summer's herald will before us come In tabard green with wand of budding branch, To paint with brushes and palette most welcome The Earth which Persephone's sleep did blanch. Then follows him the Court of Seasons grace With dying Winter last now gone behind: The King in stately brilliance sets the pace, Apollo-bright does wear his vestments lined. Beneath the canopy of royal blue, There sits the throne on carpet blazoned vert. On ancient limbs bright garlands vivid hue To gladden winter hearts with beauty certe. With growing glory does the choir sing As Herald Royale cries, “Long live the King.” #190 Shakespearean Sonnet [Previously published in Renaissance Magazine #2]
by Lady Adriana Capelletti and Sir Richard Fitzalan
Sweet Summer is a maiden dressed in green.
Her velvet gown spreads wide to hold the sun.
Her flowers sweet perfume cannot be seen;
But beauty is their slave, they want for none.
High Summer Lord comes dressed arrayed in gold.
His pointed shoes are hung with bells, which sound
A melody so high it dances bold
Among the sky-fleece white and heaven bound.
And in their midst the fairies laugh and play
Like children trapped forever in their prime.
They know not of a cruel winter's day
Nor of that constant thief we know as Time.
So let us join with airy sprites and dance,
Enjoy the perfect summer, seize the chance!
#211 Shakespearean Sonnet
Featherlight your touch
Floats upon my soul and skin
While memory glides
Across sights and sounds and smells;
I hear you breathe next to me.
To truly love is what I crave,
And wish my heart might be so brave
To let desire burn away
And kindle greater fire that may
In purity my soul then save.
As candles burn in quiet nave
To light the shrine for many slaves
I see the glow both night and day
To truly love.
This flame to lesser goals I waive,
Devote my self and all I gave
To learn the path that leads the way.
So steady on now, come what may,
Pursue the sun beyond the cave,
To truly love.
Dark Hair, Laughing Eyes,
Like a summer's clear dark night
Her eyes reach deep with laughter
As stars sparkle joy to me.
Come to me love for why should we leave by
A chance to live what others only dream?
Why should we both not walk the path which gleams
Before us, tell me why we should not try?
Can any man declare such joyful schemes
To lesser be than happiness and why?
I swear if we can but pass through to spy
The vision which we both lay claim now screams,
"Come to me love!"
Then you and I alone will ne'er more cry
But speak in quiet words where meanings teem.
So boldly run in light toward this sunbeam
And take my outstretched hand, say to me "Aye,
“With honor now accept my passion." Fly!
Come to me love.
Who could make guess when we this maze began
Within the hedges such a garden lay?
This labyrinth where twists and turns do play
With sight and did too long our pleasures ban;
Until by grace and luck we found we can
Together walk with courtly words to say
While viewing blooms that, planted back in May,
Have blossomed new in bold and fine array.
So take my hand and sit beside the bright
And welcomed fountain waters that refresh
Us from our wanderings too long alone,
And laugh as we share poems and true delight
As twining vines and hearts alike enmesh
While we sit jointly on the grassy throne.
#201 Italian (Petrarchan) Sonnet
No marble statue on a pedestal
My goddess is, but very real of flesh
And blood which courses through her veins with all
The heat of Vulcan's fire from furnace fresh.
No figure stony cold is Kallios,
But woman warm and full of love and life,
Whose presence worship brings when I am close
Or far from her own living shrine in strife.
She Hera is in power bold and high,
Athena's wisdom lights her knowing eyes
While Aphrodite swims between her thighs
And in her artist's touch and passion's cries.
A woman truly is my enchantress,
I swear she is a goddess nonetheless.
#141 Shakespearean Sonnet
That golden nimbus framing passion's heat Is not the sun's own halo but your hair; And those two stars whose light shines forth to greet Are not in heaven set but your eyes' stare. Would that I could but move beyond those gates Behind which move a thousand fantasies. And stoke the fire there myself, slowly wait, Until the blaze roars like stormy sea. And in that moment when the fire consumes, To give no quarter and to no hold cry, And feel a thousand deaths and be entombed, To drown in smoth'ring heat and there to die. Then slowly turn and wake from graceful sleep And once more pass the gates of passion's keep. #158 Shakespearean Sonnet
Within a dream the night a crescent smiles, As palely seen a sleeping knight slow turns Who restless, battles care of many miles While mullety his sable shield still burns. Aurora's hands reach lightly out to him And loving stroke his dark hair, combing stars As burrs from silken strands; and with each glim The more the dawn and night awakened are. As twine her glowing fingers 'round black locks Awareness each of other gleams in time. And morning wakens sleepers with bright clock Which sounds the call to arms with every chime. The Sun in Splendor moves now toward its height As rides the hope of dreams from night to knight. #138 Shakespearean Sonnet
A knight was there, and that a worthy
That from the time that he first began
To riden out, he lov'ed chivalry.
-- Geoffrey Chaucer