The Peregrine Knight: Part Nine.

The Peregrine Knight. Part I
The Peregrine Knight. Part 8.

Part IX: In which the knight attacks the earl.

He raised his lance to signal the attack,
And with a shout did spur his eager horse.
Then rushed the earl as rolling, ragged rack
When black with rain it flies a tempestuous course.
And when they met, such was the stormy force
Both steeds did stagger, and the earl’s threw
Him down headlong, his men roared in remorse,
But rising from the dust, his sword he drew;
So swift the knight leapt down and drew his weapon too.

Such was their strength, that every ringing clash
Between the black earl’s sword and knight’s sharp steel,
With  fiery, flying sparks as lightning flashed,
And blows, upon the shields, as thunder pealed.
No stronger wights did ever weapons wield.
But stronger struck the earl, and very soon
Did flog the blazon from his rival’s shield,
And then with heavier strokes the shield was hewn,
And dwindled with each sword-stroke, as the waning moon.

So waned the hope within the countess’ breast
On seeing her knight fall back before her foe.
Unto the forest edge the knight was pressed,
And there the earl did strike him such a blow,
As clove his helm, and made his  blood to flow
Down o’er his eyes. And nothing could he see.
And while he sank in this black sea, I trow,
He was in peril great. His enemy
Then raised his sword to lay him low beneath a tree.

The Peregrine Knight: Part Ten.

The Peregrine Knight. Part 8.

The Peregrine Knight. Part I

Then through the casement came a soft perfume
Which when her maids looked out the source to  see
A wonder they beheld. For in full bloom
That very morn was blown the courtyard tree
In morning sun, as white as purity.
Then down the the winding stair the maidens ran
And from the tower, to see this mystery,
That hidden as the heart in honest man
Behind the castle walls did sweet and noble stand.

To view this marvel came the knight and lady too,
She spoke to him and plucked a blossom white:
“Pray keep a flower that in this castle  grew.”
Then led the young men out, for battle dight,
His horse, refreshed and thirsting for the fight.
They aided him to don his habergeon,
And lace his helm, and place his breastplate bright,
A redoubt o’er heart that felt no doubt within,
For overthrown in combat he had never been.

But doubts hung cloudy oe’r the earl’s mind,
Why should these banners greet his black-cloaked hundreds?
Surely those within no hope of grace could find,
Yet had they taken heart of grace? He wondered.
So spurring quickly to the gate he thundered:
“My damosel the castle door throw wide
Your lord is come, who all  your land has plundered.”
“A dead man’s colours fright me not.” he cried
But silence only answered him as echoes died.

Then ‘neath the crumbled arch – through vine-hung door,
Came not the crushed and miserable maid
The which the haughty earl in joy looked for,
But man of war – for tourney all arrayed.
And not his lance nor sword made him afraid
Nor gadded gauntlets, nor his helmet bright
But eyes of  hawk in yarak upon him laid,
From ‘neath the visor of this stranger knight
Who called: “Look to your arms, I for this lady fight!”

Notes: Gads are spikes on gauntlets and ‘in yarak’ is falconry lingo for ready to hunt.

The Peregrine Knight: Part Nine.

The Peregrine Knight. Part Seven.

The Peregrine Knight. Part I

Now, riding through the deep and twisted forest
‘Neath forlorn night’s dark wing, that very hour,
(A night as black as his own raven crest,)
The infamous earl came with all his power
To pitch black tents beneath the countess’ tower.
When flaming morn o’er treetop did extend,
She saw them spread below, but did not cower.
The knight had promise made her to defend –
“This morning,” said she, “sees our night of sorrow end.

So strike the mourning hangings, and unfurl,
From every casement in this castle’s keep,
My father’s standard, to affront the earl”
So pennants green and red did billowing leap
And heavily fall from every port, and sweep
Out on the morning wind above the trees.
“This tower,” she said “long nights has seen me weep
While looking from its casement I did see
In fear those woods that I loved once when I was free”.

The knight then stood before her in the hall
And so to him she told the forest’s ways,
What may be seen where green the shadows fall –
Of  men who had been lost within its maze,
And pathless wandered ‘round for many days,
Till stumbling out they found the castle gate,
But how she fearless walked its paths always
Before the earl had darkened it with hate –
She told him then how rich therein had been her state:

“I loved her winding paths and secret pools
Which dark and mossy branches overhung,
Where owls hid from the forest’s daylight fools,
The jays, who pestered them with questioning song.
If rain clouds found me there when I was young
Where oaks a vaulted abbey roof did spread,
Where buckthorn chapels grew, I dry among
The thicket sat, and heard above my head
The drops down-falling on my leafy roof instead.”

Some days by sun-glanced stream I’d speak my heart,
And lift my song for none but God to hear,
Then summer’s clouds of swifts would take their part
And swirling praise Him in the firmament clear,
As long ago they flew ere knowing fear.”
She smiled, and through the sunlight streaming in
Crossed to the knight and said “Now you are here,
Swift flies the earl’s doom, Sir Peregrine;
My thanks I give – I’ve found the fearless world again.”

The Peregrine Knight. Part 8.

The Peregrine Knight. Part Six.

The Peregrine Knight. Part I

Part VI. In which the foster brother relates what happened after dinner that night.

Our eldest did the countess charge this night,
When empty stood our last barrel of meal,
That she should come and tell to you her plight;
That she should softly to your bedside steal
And bow her head, and as a suppliant kneel,
To beg you be her lord and be her shield.
This, she should ask, not only for her weal,
But for ours too. She answered, and would not yield,
“I’d liefer face our foe myself upon the field”

So she to him would not submission grant,
And though his hest he pressed upon her long,
Like stubborn heretic who never will recant
She, pale and trembling, in her will stood strong.
“Then I and all that unto you belong
Will fly from here as birds in wintertide,
Cold lady who your faithful friends now wrong,
And cowardice in cloak of modesty hides”
So spoke he flinging words like arrows far and wide.

Though she did turn her eyes away from us,
I saw by rushlight glassy teardrops fall
And make dark stain upon her pale dress.
She looked upon the hangings on the wall
Where her father bringing miscreants ‘neath his thrall,
Did stand with sword and sceptre in faded thread.
I spoke: “There’s one now sleeps within these walls,
Who can the black-earl challenge without dread;
Be glad! For I will speak unto the knight.” I said.

The knight replied “Go give to her my word
That I will be her knight, and will not fail
To make all who attack her taste my sword.
And of the truth of those adventure tales
With which I after meat did all regale,
Know, by my faith, true are the things I told.
But bear her tokens three, lest doubt assail,
And with these gifts, pray bid her heart be bold-
This jewel red, this shield of white, this ring of gold.’

The Peregrine Knight. Part Seven.

About The Peregrine Knight.

Right now I’m publishing a serial poem called The Peregrine Knight. It’s an Arthurian Romance, though not a strict re-telling of any Arthurian story. (It is similar to one in the Mabinogion). The way I would recommend reading it is: Click on part one, then read to the bottom of that and click the link to part two, and so on.

The meter of the verses is iambic with eight lines of  ten syllables and then one line of twelve. The rhyme scheme is ABABBCBCC. This form of verse is what Spenser used in The Faery Queen, but I will let you all judge for yourselves the style and quality.

I hope you enjoy it.

The Peregrine Knight. The Fifth Part.

The Peregrine Knight. Part Six.
The Peregrine Knight. Part II
The Peregrine Knight. Part III
The Peregrine Knight. The Fourth Part.

Part V. In which the foster brother telleth the tale of the earl.

“When lived our count, ‘twas o’er a vasty land
That from this hall he held his righteous sway.
It fell a neighbouring earl sought the hand
Of her, his only daughter. But his way
Of proudly wooing vexed her day by day,
And never would her father ‘gainst her will
To any earl on earth give her away.
That he should hawk and yet the dove not kill
With leaping flames of rage this suitor’s heart did fill.

Her father dead, he came, and all afire 
Demanded he should see her then and hear
Her acquiescence to his proud desire.
Into the upper hall they brought him, where,
He asked and she denied, though pierced with fear.
Grasping her wrists, he kicked her round the room
And not her cries, nor aged nurse’s tears
Could stop his blows as he pronounced her doom;
With him her bed would be, or cold within the tomb.

He loosed his horse from ‘neath the courtyard tree,
And galloped in anger through the iron gate.
I saw him turn at the woods periphery
And looking at these walls, with jarring hate
He cursed: “Like ranging wolves their lusts to sate
Who gut a living doe and tear from bone
Her flesh away, I’ll  rend this maid’s estates.
Her house cannot long stand when lands are gone.”
And so he’s warred, and now this castle stands alone.

The countess sits as shipwrecked on a rock.
To sweep her off, the waves are rolling ‘round
And by the rain, and wind, her cries are mocked
For no friend in this storm comes near. The sound
Of roiling waters drowns her calls. And drowned
Are all who first to aid her did appear.
This day just I and brothers twelve are found
To keep this one remaining fortress here
But food is dear –  this night the thirteen brothers fear.

The Peregrine Knight. Part Six.

The Peregrine Knight. The Fourth Part.

The Peregrine Knight. Part I
The Peregrine Knight. Part II
The Peregrine Knight. Part III

Then up a torch lit stair the knight was led
And in his mind still ran her roundelay.
Then came he to a chamber where a bed
By a window, and a long-cold, hearthstone lay.
There lay the knight and looked on one blue star
A-waiting for the coming of the day,
And there he heard a voice as from afar –
The lady of the castle pleading say
His name which he had told to none upon his way.

He wandered in a woodland in his dreams,
And never found the castle towers, though he
The light could see. Loud calling, cawing screams
Tore through the air amid the black branched trees,
And beating wings he heard and could not see.
First quietly, then louder than before
He heard a sound resounding distantly.
Till close, as giants beating drums of war,
It boomed, and from it fled the flocks in loud uproar.

Then he from out this midnight-mare awoke;
The slender young man in the doorway stood,
And fearfully the waking knight bespoke:
“I pray you of your courtesy, be good
To hear me speak. A deep and wild wood
We live within, through which but one path goes-
The lonely way, which in the day you rode.
In twisted briar and bush, and hemlock groves,
This castle’s hid. And who but rogues this household knows?

The noble count whose foster son I am
Is in the grave – now gone three wintertides.
One daughter, heir of all was left by him,
The lady who this night sat by your side.
Like as a blooming rose the woodland hides,
Or jeweled crown in dusty vault long lain,
This castle her bright beauty keeps inside.
But noble knight, this crown you may attain –
Wed her, and with her by your side you may here reign.”

The knight then spoke: “Her eyes, I saw, shine clear,
Her cheeks were like the red blood fall’n on snow.
When her refreshing voice fell on my ear
It came like forest stream with deep clear flow,
Or southern springtime winds when first they blow.
But you were led this night by deeper dread
Then that she’d live unwed. Now let me know
What fear I see – What sword hangs over your head
“Our foe returns”, the young man said, “and we’ve no bread.”

The Peregrine Knight. The Fifth Part.