What a journey for this errant knight and sometime poet. My first booklet of poetry, The Errant Knight, was published in 1995 and was reviewed in Renaissance Magazine #5. About my work the reviewer said: " His work is whimsical,
melancholy, and for the most part technically sound and it is these qualities that make this compilation enjoyable to Medievalists."
My hope for my second chapbook, A Long Knight’s Journey Into Day, which was published in 1996, was to improve upon both the melancholy tone of the first and also improve through learning the technique of poetic verse. In it, I continued to expand my understanding of various forms as well as adding poems on more diverse subjects.
Perhaps it is worthy to note that several of these poems have appeared in various publications:
"Accidental Tanka" Slightly West The literary journal of the Evergreen
State College, Spring 1997.
"Are you my lady love?" Facets of Knighthood. The Outlaw Press, 1996.
"Darkness and Light" Renaissance Magazine #16, 1999.
"The Garden Gate" Renaissance Magazine #6, Spring 1997.
"The Mirrored Pool" Facets of Knighthood. The Outlaw Press, 1996.
"Mirror Pool Revisited" Renaissance Magazine #10, 1998.
"O Teacher Mine : a sonnet of sorts" Renaissance Magazine #10, 1998.
"Romance of Chivalry" Facets of Knighthood. The Outlaw Press, 1996.
"A Sonnet to Her Excellency, on her birthday" The Flames of the Dragon July 1997, issue A33.
"Summer’s Herald" Renaissance Magazine #2, 1996.
"Unwoven Heart" Renaissance Magazine #16, 1999.
"Warms to my gentle touch" The Oracle volume 6, issue #1, January 1997.
In addition to the positive reception of my medieval poetry in national publications, in 1997 I received the Order of the Jambe de Leon, an award in the Society for Creative Anachronism's Kingdom of An Tir, for my work in the art of poetry.
This current booklet is the result of taking the more than one hundred poems I've written since 1997 and winnowing them down with my editorial board. The following thirty-some chosen poems generally fall into three main categories. This chapbook starts with the medieval forms of poetry which have so long been my staple. Then, divided by the odd epic, the eastern forms, haikus and tankas, mostly short poems. And finally the Knight moves into Today with modern free verse.
The modern poems may seem somewhat out of place given that almost all of my previous poetry has been done in medieval forms, but as a poet I’ve always tried new forms and to grow and improve over time so somehow it seems appropriate to me. I hope you enjoy them all.
Anyone interested in knowing more about my current poetry projects should see my poetry web page at: http://18.104.22.168/individuals/edwardsr/poetry.htm
also known as Sir Richard Fitzalan
A rein in the hand
To Wake With You
La Cuaderna Via
As Time Our Journey Charts
Give Me the Sun
Reply to Sonnet 29
So the Story Goes
When Winter Comes
"Earendil & Elwing"
If Romeo and Juliet had stars aligned and not ill-crossed,
If Capulet and Montague were not in rival tossed,
If friends they were and couple joined and nothing then was lost
Then would the Bard have worthy tale if there were no such cost?
If love comes not with rushing flood but quiet by the door,
If sun but borrows day to give it up again for more,
If joy comes daily as our bread not drunken nor by war
Then will we want such simple care or wonder what's love for?
#313 La Cuaderna Via
Sonnet XXIX (29)
by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon my self and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least,
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate,
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Reply to Sonnet 29
When glad of my own fortune through my eyes
I see the Wheel slow turn and bring this state
Which varies, trouble now, then joyful cries,
Then curses yet again with changing fate.
I must embrace my present, give up hope,
Accept with grace my life as one possessed
By God, desiring no man's part nor scope
Just learning as I go not what is least
But what is best for me and none despising;
Then I may happy think on thee and state
In joy, not sympathy, that there are rising
On eagle's wings, our hearts to heaven's gate;
For only worthy souls can such wealth bring
To be with love then crowned as Queen and King.
#247 Shakespearean Sonnet
A rein in the hand...
A certain knight rode out one day
I think 'twas in the month of May
And as he rode off toward the town
He almost rode a peasant down.
He laughed to see the peasant flee
His steed so bold he thanked with glee
"Great joy," he said, "I gain from this
My Charger, Love, my only bliss.
You let me show them one and all
Though not a banneret, I'm tall
And rise above them every one
They'll all make way before I'm done."
And when he came into the town
And saw the Lords of much renown,
With ermine robes and spurs of gold
About whom stories oft were told
Who glory gained from battles fought,
He wanted more and so he thought
He must find a way to greater gain
To show that he was not a plain
Or lowly knight but of the best
And should be honoured with the rest.
He gnashed his teeth and looked around
And there across the street he found
A humble church whose bell did ring
While joyful choir there did sing.
He leapt from saddle without grace
And upward toward the cross did face
"Now I can see what I must do
To show these Lords a thing or two.
I'll go within and strongly pray
For God to send to me today
Another steed, no two, as bright
And fair, with shining coats of white.
That will show them that I am rich
And make them howl, with envy bitch."
And so he tied his horse outside
And marched within all full of pride.
He found a pew, down front he sat
(he would have knelt, but he was fat)
And prayed a storm of holy words
Until the priest and others heard.
The Father came and sought the knight
For he was being quite a sight,
"Good Sir," the priest did say, "How now?
Are you all right?" The knight avowed
That he was fine and better yet
He'd gain a lot with little debt.
He paid the priest one silver pence
(I think he shaved it fore it went)
To say the words to make it true
(He really hadn't thought it through).
He rose, the priest said "peace with you",
The knight replied "a good horse too."
He passed out through the church's door,
In hopes of finding there two more
Or maybe THREE or even four
If God was great, maybe a score!
But as his eyes scanned round the street
No herd of horses did they meet.
No crowd to worship his great wealth
For while inside had come by stealth
Some villain bold who slipped the reins
And made the knight's loss his great gain.
NO horse there was, not even one
And so the knight walked in the sun.
So lords and ladies, gentle folk
On greedy knight did fall this joke.
So justice falls on those whose greed
Comes face to face with those in need;
Be gentle on the rein in life
If you don't wish to have more strife,
Do not complain about your lot
Be glad to have the good you've got.
What wonders lay behind those eyes so clear?
Your mind which plays with words and thoughtful speaks
On topics ranging far and wide and dear
While impish joy delightful jumps and peaks.
What wonders grow within your heart so bright?
Your feelings do compassion show to all;
With empathy you see with worldly sight
Yet strongly stand with guiding spirit tall.
What wonders must your secret soul now know?
Will you allow me trust and let me share?
Can we each other honour bring and show
The world our best true selves and loving care?
What wonders will we with each other find
In sharing body, spirit, heart and mind.
#221 Shakespearean Sonnet
with Kimberlee Cook
If I could speak in flowers, not pale words,
How grand my speech would be; what fine bouquets
My tongue would gather, Roses and sweet Birds
Of Paradise to sing to you in praise.
Our story builds a gay array in right
And noble colors, Lilacs to begin
With purple beauty my senses to delight;
As with their heady breathe my mind does spin.
My Tulips to declare the blossoming
And Bluebells to foretell its constancy;
Remembrance do the Pansies joyful sing
And peaceful mind with Heartsease there to see.
This flower poem I have crafted for you,
A spoken arrangement of rainbow hue.
#323 Shakespearean Sonnet
So the story goes
The velvet night is quiet like the glade
In some forgotten tale of yore where he,
The hero of the story, found the maid
And stole his way beside her, there to see
Her sleeping in the fragrant grass. Her head
Lay cushioned on her cloak of silk that paled
When seen beside her silken hair of red.
His eyes did not his heart protect but hailed
His soul as herald's trumpet call. He neared
To her and knelt as she while smiling dreamed.
He bending kissed her brow, her cheek his beard
Caressed. He rose, withdrew, or so it seemed.
But when the sun in springtime splendor rose
They woke entwined or so the story goes.
#280 Shakespearean Sonnet
Give me the Sun
I cannot call the Moon the Sun though both
Alike do shadows cast with the same light
Both sacred in their special ways and oaths
While one illums the day, the other night.
When living in the velvet black I know
It tempting is to name the nighttime sun
An equal sister to the daytime glow
But only daytime sees the constant one.
The moon, though even full on snowy eves
Cannot make night, the day, though it might seem,
To rival it; nor does the world it leaves
Debate how like the moon the sun might beam.
Though true that both unique must truly be,
If I must choose then give the sun to me.
#321 Shakespearean Sonnet
The Sun her lover's morning kiss refused,
Her golden lips but barely brushed his cheek,
Her waning heart his earthy love abused,
Her gaze so chill denied his eyes to seek.
Once dawned her early touch which made him burn
And his first daily breath was full of her
But that was months ago and seasons turn
And shadows grow where once did sunshine stir.
So cold has filled her heart where warmth once reigned
As light now wanes and darkness grows the more.
The clouds move in, just yesterday it rained;
And only God knows what He has in store.
Will summer bank the glowing coals to heat?
Will Sun return her heart with warmth to beat?
#306 Shakespearean Sonnet
As Time Our Journey Charts
When I set down the file and drew it not
Across the bars but kissed your dreamless eyes,
To heft my tools and turn to go I thought
To be the best course I could speed for my
Own heart. But I was wrong and lucky too
For in the place of either act, to run
Or force the barr'ed gate to get to you,
I found instead this warm and brilliant sun,
Which lights my every movement, stand its place
In heaven still. And in my heart I found
No shadow cast, no worried, frantic race,
But trust and joy what's best would come around
In its own time. I hope in both our hearts
The sun dwells high as time our journey charts.
#242 Shakespearean Sonnet
Mediocritie in love rejected
by Thomas Carew [1595-1640]
Give me more love, or more disdaine;
The Torrid, or the frozen Zone,
Bring equall ease unto my paine;
The temperate affords me none:
Either extreame, of love, or hate,
Is sweeter than a calme estate.
Give me a storme; if it be love,
Like Danae in that golden showre
I swimme in pleasure; if it prove
Disdaine, that torrent will devoure
My Vulture-hopes; and he's possest
Of Heaven, that's but from Hell releast;
Then crowne my joyes, or cure my paine;
Give me more love, or more disdaine.
To which I respond with:
Since you will give me no more love then I
Disdain must heap upon the smold'ring fire
And pour the bitter tears that I still cry
To quench at last my burning heart's desire.
How dare you cause me to such pain endure
To light the fire beneath my stake in glee
And then but dance away, leave me unsure,
To roast or drown the light and darkened be.
And thus so tied my tears but water part
These coals which burn but ne'er more light I see;
I cannot walk away nor still my heart,
I wish for death or love to make me free.
Administer the coup de grace at least
Or hand the knife that I might find release.
#251 Shakespearean Sonnet
On summer's beach we did an oyster find
And joyful plucked it from its muddy bed.
With care we parted its moist lips of red
And planted sands of doubt for it to grind
In hopes that with the passing time so fed
The sea's own seed might to that grit then bind
And bring within the shell of faith, when shed,
A Pearl of worth when all false hopes had fled
On autumn's beach.
Too soon betwixt its lips the blade we pled
And parted that which should be held in kind,
And found within the fertile womb so lined
No jewel round just grains of sandy lead.
Now once again, alone, we onward tread
On winter's beach.
Here I walk heel heavy
Haggard knight in brightest spurs
No steed running nimble
No reins to knowing guide
Just trackless miles jumbled
Judged by Fate in silence hence
Would that I might quiet sit
Where the fire warms the air.
But here I be heel driven
Bright spurred but hedge-born knight
Walking on the weathered road
Wide world calling like the tide
Songs drift by on words well sung
Silent shield now broken yields
Would that I with warsongs ringing
Wade sword-first to my liege-lord's aid.
A pox upon Saint Valentine
Whose heart just as more dead as mine
Whose tomb along the Flamin' way
Must hold the joy I feel today.
'Tis said his day brings birds to pair
And coo as dove or lady fair,
But bring me Cupids bow and shaft
And I will end such folly's craft!
Two hearts, one arrow would be true,
I'd pin the one to number two
With iron tip, which seems as love
To flightless hearts which fall above.
Forgive these words of such cold grace
While winter's sun has turned its face;
I pray you find your lover true
It's more than ever I could do.
Rhymed Couplets #235
With Andrea Chavez
These first few days just after Lent begins,
I slowly crawl along beneath the waves,
This winter baptism absolves my sins
And with new breath, the freshness that I crave
Seems to clean the air of all malicious things
Yet still the voice of heaven, the sweetest song
Is distant as a bell through water rings;
The burden of my faults is far too strong.
Each minor fault, every mistake I hide,
Becomes a weight whose presence weighs me down
And holds me motionless against the tide
I cannot swim against and so must drown.
My only hope is Spring's warm fragrant air
Which buoys soul and pulls me from despair.
#315 Shakespearean Sonnet
With Andrea Chavez
When August's heat dries life from out the ground
My heart, I find, has all its passion spent;
No seed here grows, the air with silent sound
Lays heavy on my soul where hands once went.
No soft caress provides the balm I crave
No lovers lips breathe softly in my ear.
Hope is naught but bones within a grave
My world, my love, seems lost this time of year.
And when at last with Fall the page doth turn,
Though I relief may find from sun's bright gaze
Still in the depths the lonely coals do burn
But give no light to bring me through this maze.
My heart doth yearn for Winter's cold desire
To quench the burning hurt of August's fire.
#303 Shakespearean Sonnet
When Winter Comes
When winter comes and frost on leaves we see,
The plant withdraws and huddles close at home;
Its bulb a haven for the energy
Of life to come now hidden in the gloam.
The snow then comes and buries all the ground
And though the blanket's warm no color stands
Upon the land and little movement's found
On such terrain which travel still commands.
But then the Spring with joyful change slow grows
And new born shoots now rise from older seeds
That reach toward sun as though they really know
That life awaits and answers every need.
The flower's beauty shines and warmth does bring
To all who see its bloom and colors spring.
#285 Shakespearean Sonnet
"Earendil & Elwing”
A man there was, who was a knight
With armor bright he rode the sea
And sailed all round the colder lands
And distant strands of far Faerie.
His ship was sound with silver sails
As was his mail and habergeon
He strode the decks, wave-rider bold
And stories told of days long gone.
His quest called him to farthest West
His skills to test as mariner
Into the everlasting night
To make a fight as warrior.
Into the darkness he did speed
In his bold need to seek the Grail
But stormy seas his ship there tossed
And he was lost and feared he'd fail.
When lo there came from down below
A growing glow in water caught
And from the cauldron of the sea
On wings to flee of fire wrought
A phoenix rose and gained the air
And flew from there with light of flame
For on her breast she wore the jewel
A Silmaril by any name.
Of old she was an elven queen
A lady seen of beauty true
Who swam the sea and flew in air
With loving care her power grew
She crossed the ocean now not dark
Just like a lark she took to wing
And as she came he saw the light
Withdraw the night and both hearts sing.
Upon the deck she landed then
Where once had been but dark and gloom
She bound the star upon his brow
And knowing now they faced their doom,
They blazed their way as comet trail
No fear to fail with each beside
Their journey many stories told
The stars no longer left to hide.
They stood beside the tiller pole
Their hands to hold and steer by star
Until at last they came one day
By that highway to Valimar.
And to this time you see their light
At end of night, the Venus-star,
Which gives us hope and draws us on
To where beyond we strive so far.
#249 Medieval form based on
“Earendil the Mariner”
by J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973).
Sing O Calliope of the quadrennial voyage
Of one son of Odysseus who like his questing father
Found himself on a journey to places within our world
And beyond drawn across the eldest of Titans' body
On wooden wings like Athen's walls and guided by that daughter 5
Of Oceanus whose wheeled symbol rides the waves and land
When all he wished within his heart was to find his Ithaca.
When Cancer, that Hercules vanquished in his second task,
Swam the sky-lanes and the air was summer sweet all night long
Then did this brother of Telemachus find himself leave 10
The land of many years drawn by three daughters of Achelous
Whose siren-song turned the warrior from Herme's sword-gift
To the cup of Eros and drawn by Luna's tide he was carried
Between Scylla and Charybdis where he nearly died.
Years as a hopilite had strengthen him and though his ship
Had been gifted to Poseiden he swam to a near shore
And did not visit Hades's Halls but lived to sail again
When he, with the aid of the Trimarcisia and brothers,
The sons of Calliope, built a stronger ship and named it
Earendil, the Sea Lover, to sail the distance home. 20
With all his soul he prayed to Fortuna to fill his cylix
With Ambrosia and his sails with wind to speed his journey
For long was the way to bring the sailor lost to the place
Where the armor could sit the stand and the sword dwell ensheathed,
Where the never filled cup would be filling and the rod point true. 25
As he sailed uncharted seas and found in distant lands adventure
He knew his course by but one sign, the stars binary whose
Attraction was closer even than the Gemini twins.
But then one day the sky clouded and he could see their light
No more in the dome of Uranus and the children of Eos 30
Blew no more to fill the hanging sails of his homebound vessel.
Then came the months of doldrums when he lay upon the deck
As if dead for with no landfall there was no water fresh
To drink nor food to gather to eat. The first to die was Hope.
#253 Homeric Epic
EASTERN POETIC FORMS
While I have enjoyed writing in medieval European forms, occasionally I've wanted to write shorter poems to distill a moment or feeling. There are several Eastern forms which I've experimented with that allow this approach. My favorite are the Japanese Haiku and Tanka.
It is true that I do not always stick to the traditional 5-7-5 haiku form, but then it has been argued by better poets than I that the haiku's importance is in its approach and impact rather than the translation of Japanese syllabic count into English.
In any event, I offer the following short poems.
The thorns pierce my hands
As I cling to the rosebush
I release my grip
And fall into the hands of God
Which likewise pierced still catch me.
I forgot winter
When you pulled my eyes from the snow.
I smelled the warm rain
and knew that the growing light
has caused new leaves, wanted or not.
The cold summer wind
Sings alone in the treetops.
Unfolds its wings of paper.
The sheet flies.
Like an empty page
Intuition quiet waits
For the Wheel to write
The future-present in words
Strong and clear through misty clouds.
Here alone I climb
No handrail but my own soul
Fearful but ascending.
Love's a game of chance
Gambling with crystal coins
Played with jagged dice.
Like moss to statue
My eyes cling to your cool form
Waiting for sun to give life.
Long lashed sable stars
In dimness bright the
Evening sees; Cloudy
Shadow-veils cannot hide the
Light which pierces knowingly.
#250 Acrostic Tanka
Soft black rose petals
Form the sheath wherein it rests;
Tempered strength flexing,
Shining glimmer tightly held
Reflecting warmth of forging.
Dark hair, laughing eyes,
Featherlight your touch
My warm breath quickens.
Published in Slightly West : The literary journal of the Evergreen
State College, Spring 1997.
My hands are sticky
With the juice from peeling skin,
My teeth softly tease
The stem before, with one bite,
I devour the fruit whole.
The scent of your hair
Reminds me of the ocean;
Flood tide brings you back
As the waves wash over me;
We lie together on the beach.
Modern Free Verse
The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines Free Verse as: "poetry organized to the cadences of speech and image patterns rather than according to a regular metrical scheme. Free verse, therefore, eliminates much of the artificiality and some of the aesthetic distance of poetic expression and substitutes a flexible formal organization suited to the modern idiom and more casual tonality of the language."
I leave it to the reader as to how well the following poems, some of
my early work in modern Free Verse, achieve this form.
I go coatless in the April sun.
Shortsleeves stroll warm
on this remembered beach.
in my hourglass.
I smile to see the balcony
Where we stood
while we held
The December shadow
falls across my path.
I force myself
onto more solid roads.
at the espresso cart for something
While the wind teases my hat
as your memory ruffles my hair.
I walk past the store where we bought
those gaudy earrings,
a Christmas present
for your aunt.
I smile tears.
under the sand now.
Each grain strikes a blow
then adds to the smothering pile.
Dunes rise above me;
I realize how trapped I am.
What use walking.
The sands will find me
chained to my hourglass.
I walk out
to the waves
that they might
wash the sand off me.
Perhaps I can
let myself be carried
by the tide
At least drown clean.
I'll get my coat from my car
parked outside our winter room.
There's no warmth
in the spring-time sun
And the beach is cold this sunny April day.
#246 Free Verse
With Beth Morris
The door to your heart is shut.
So lovingly I carved it through these stony walls
Cunningly wrought and ornamented
With lights and colored glass.
Rose-colored, it seems
Now iron bands have sealed it ever more
And though I railed against the bonds
Which hold the portal closed
They're stoutly held by your desire
Which I can not touch.
To see the glow and colors bright
To wish to touch the warmth
To know the ban from passion's gate
My soul's reflection dims.
So now I turn as you have done
Away from our love's gleam
Turning away from fast-locked doors
And walls built high and hard,
I see before me all the open land
The fields of green and swaying gold.
I see that all the beauty you have hid
Is but a fraction of what the world can show.
What you have locked away is but a morsel
compared to this great feast of joy and light.
'Tis turning away from gleams in the night
Into the broad light of a new day.
#239 Free Verse
To Wake With You.
The dawn poured like cream
through the curtains
and spilled across your face.
My eyes caught each rivulet
as they cascaded down your forehead,
pooling on your eyelids
that rested easily in sleep.
No waves upon the surface,
just the silent ease of dreams.
The cats swam through the covers,
smelling the milkiness of your skin,
savoring every ounce.
The rich light flowed slowly
down your cheeks.
The color of the smooth moon
on golden nights in autumn
when the stars are sharp.
Your lips drowned in the glimmer--
I wanted nothing but
to taste your breath,
to swim in your eyes again,
to be floodlit.
Poem #299 Free Verse
Every time I started
to eat a piece,
especially on holidays,
my grandmother would say how
I ate pie
just like my grandfather used to.
Then she would get silent.
even my mother,
who never lacked for words,
would quiet for the ghost.
As a child,
I never understood.
He died before I was born
how could I have
learned to be like him?
When I was old enough
to realize she wasn't seeing
me eat pie
I thought it was about
fond memories, happy days,
Holy days filled with food
and family and friends.
The crust of truth though
was that granddad was a drunk,
living with a
"woman of ill repute"
in Rainier that summer's day
in '52 when his heart
gave out at 56.
Some of the family weren't even
speaking to him then,
until the funeral.
I never knew him.
The only time I ever met him
was at his grave years later.
Where, right beside him,
lies my grandmother.
There he is, eternally
where he wasn't
I wonder what kind of pie he liked.
Poem #298, Free verse
The bed lay awash in shadowed isles
that lurked amid the rising tide of sunlight.
And there, in that archipelago of sleep's stirrings,
I navigated by touch,
seeking the sights and smells
of home after a long night's journey.
The early glow of Venus gave me bearings
as I lowered the sheet and
slowly sailed toward the shoreline.
The earth moved while I
guided the prow onto the damp shingle
and held her fast.
Debouching, I fell in thankful worship and
I let the sand slip slowly through my fingers
as I caressed the beach
while the tide receded with the dawn.
#274 Free verse
Beth Morris, also known as Baroness Keilyn FitzWarin, Orders of the Laurel and Pelican, in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), is my teacher in medieval poetry as well as my friend and her constant support of my work has inspired my improvement for years. I have been honored to see our poems published in the same issue of Renaissance Magazine.
Andrea Chavez, aka Lady Adriana Capelletti, my dear friend and co-author of many poems, especially when the muse had fled and I was in desperate need of finding words on paper.
Rebecca Saxton, aka the Honourable Lady Wynefrid Sealbhach Colquohoun, a published author and editor, has taught me how to rewrite with perfection as a goal and yet accept being as close as we can get to the mark and then letting go.
Jaymi Bouziden, aka Lady Livia Montgomery, though a long distance friend, has always found time to edit and advise and my readers will appreciate the improvement from the criticism she has given.
Darla Murker, aka the Honourable Lady Catelin Spenser, with whom I have worked in various SCA offices for years, is an always energetic supporter whose words helped kick this booklet out the door.
Tracy Nelson, aka Lord Cian MacDara and Allen Richards, aka the Honorable Lord Stergar the Smiling, both my squires and also my dear friends and fellow poets. Little did we realize when we started Poetry Nights on Thursdays seven years ago that it would come to this! This present chapbook was edited in large part at yet another Thursday Poetry Night at Cattin’s in Tumwater. This book is as much theirs as it is mine.