The Peregrine Knight ~ Canto I, Part I

Submitted by Caleb on Sun, 10/28/2018 - 21:12

I thought there was no enterprise in the world too mighty for me, and after I had achieved all the adventures that were in my own country, I equipped myself, and set forth to journey through deserts and distant regions ~ The Lady of the Fountain, The Mabinogion


Verschlossene Fenster, überall
Ein Schweigen und ein Trauern;
Es schien, als wohne der stille Tod
In diesen öden Mauern.
~ Heinrich Heine

("Locked Windows, everywhere
A Silence and a Mourning;
It seemed silent death dwelt
In these desolate walls."

I will put a quote in each post and the parts of this poem in the single-spaced comments.)

Author's age when written


Part I: The Knight rideth forth from Caerleon seeking Adventures and cometh unto a Castle in a dense Forest

He promised to return at Whitsuntide,
And rode out from the lands ‘neath Arthur’s sway,
Through springtime’s valleys green, by rivers wide
Where bright and bonnie field and orchard lay,
Then narrow winding paths for many a day
He followed on through wild waste mountain lands,
Where grey rock walls loomed high above the way,
And dark the forest stood on every hand,
And there one day above a glen he came to stand.

The path before him fell betwixt the trees
Down deep into a stony wooded waste,
And like a ship half-sunken in the sea
He saw a castle in that forest placed,
(The which, hard by, a ruined convent faced,)
So down into the vale his horse he steered,
And took each dusty turn the pathway traced,
Until at last, as sunlight disappeared,
Mid trees and high grown weeds the castle gate he neared.

The iron gate on two stone pillars hung,
The rust showed that it long had lain at rest,
And from the pillar tops the grass had sprung,
And on the crumbled arch sat sparrows’ nests.
He struck the bars an entrance to request,
Not knowing who but he could hear his call,
And in the dark, a door yet unnoticed
Beside the gate, swung open in the wall
And there with candle stood a youth, slender and tall.

“A knight in arms upon the road at night!”
He cried, and asked “Now seek you rest within?”
As to his blazon aloft he held his light.
The knight replied “You see a peregrine
Who worn with wanderings wide would welcome win.”
Then light and porter all at once were gone,
But soon the gate swung wide with grating din,
And through the gate the young man led him on
Up to a courtyard, wide as that of Caerleon.

The lonely flame illumined the courtyard stones,
And black against its light he saw a tree,
In middle of the courtyard it had grown
And spread a dark and tangled canopy.
One other light over the branches he
Saw glint from casement distant, high above.
And all was hung with mourning cloth to see,
And all beneath the shroud the branches wove,
Was quiet as a grave forgot in woodland grove.

Up winding stairs to seek that one lit place
He followed on this candle-bearing guide,
Then through an arch he saw a care-filled face --
A lady sitting sad by faint fire’s side,
Her dress worn thin, but mended well with pride.
Nine youths as well sat in that hall who were
Most like to him who led the knight inside,
Red haired and thin, their jerkins edged with fur
And sad their eyes as well, though looked they not like her.

As he came near they rose in courtesy,
And he who seemed the eldest reverence made,
‘Good sir” he said “pray sit you here by me;
Let us converse until the board is laid.”
Then came into the hall nine beauteous maids,
Who took his armour off and cushions spread
For him to sit upon. Then was he bade
To tell his journeyings; how he had sped,
Until unto this lonely castle he was led.

And he was just wondering, for he was a severe critic of his own work, whether that last line couldn't be polished up a bit...
~P.G. Wodehouse

I enjoyed reading this very much. You weave stories so well that it seems as if, as I read your poem, I was reading an old classic. I'm looking forward to the next part!

I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hope to get some out every week for a few weeks.
Style wise I'm using an old stanza form, and tried not to use words that wouldn't fit in a ballad or a medieval or renaissance romance. But I also tried not to use too unfamiliar of words such as were often used in old Arthur stories -- words for which one would need a glossary like awroke, benome, beskifte, bobaunce, wodwos, yolden etc. (They're super cool words though!)

And he was just wondering, for he was a severe critic of his own work, whether that last line couldn't be polished up a bit...
~P.G. Wodehouse