Daaskmere Monk

William of Meadowsford

Book Cover

arrowShawn Postoff

Copyright © 1997 - 2009
arrowInfinitive Ink Limited


VII ill title Dutiful Squires

In mansion, esquires are sectioned them each
In one of six classes of which they should reach
A level of deftness, distinction, and praise
To serve their good master in laudable ways.
Of Squire of Body, of Chamber, or Wines,
Of Pantry, or Carver, or Honours and Lines,
The best class to be in and most highly sought
Is either the first or the last of the lot.

Of course, ‘tis not everyone lucky to be
A Squire of Honours, or Body decree.
A large group of boys had been chosen to serve
As Squires of the Chambers, where they would preserve
The sanctified state of the Meadowsford rooms.
They’d keep with the scrubbers and gentle perfumes
A welcoming home in which all could return,
And feel the warm comfort where candles did burn.
Amusing it was how selections were made
To choose if a boy was of Chamberlain’s grade.
Sir Robert would ask how he fared at his lines:
If Chaplain responded, “His memory pines,”
Then Robert to Chambers the boy would assign:
“No words in his head but a cleaner right fine.”
With such a distinction, ‘tis easy to see
How Squires of Chambers together would be
A close-knitted clan with more similar traits,
That secretly scolded what scripture relates.
To credit, they all were miraculous skilled
When called into battles that sparring would build:
Their strength was unmatchable, brutal their blows,
And when they ‘came knights they would terrify foes.
But absence of wondrous illuminate text,
Ensured that their wholeness was certainly vexed.
Tho’ Robert would praise them their skill in a war,
I sensed he deprived them of any words more.
For deeply my master held balance as key:
“The letters in hand with the weapons should be
A powerful friendship that all should aspire.
I give my respect to the literate squire.”

How silly it seems when I gaze o’er the years.
We kept ourselves separate from mutual fears.
No doubt they believed me unworthy a breed:
A weakling who cowered behind what I’d read,
Unjust in my rank as a Meadowsford squire,
For surely in battle I quickly would tire.
In turn I did hold them in little esteem,
Convinced they despised of Saint John and his dream.
I cringed when I watched them in practice each day,
Detecting within them a vengeance at bay,
That struggled to free its own violence and wrath,
Expressing emotions of bloodier bath.
These boys of the Chamber of body were built,
But soon there’d a day when their bodies would wilt,
And Peter would turn them away at his gate:
In Heaven, what use was a muscular trait?

But now in my older reflection I know
‘Twas wrongful to let anonymity grow:
We all were an army together for Christ,
Made weaker when ranks in between us were sliced.

Not only of Chambers, but Pantry as well,
A similar tale of avoidance I’ll tell.
For here were the squires that moneys oft wooed,
Largesse was an active performance pursued.
And covetous cravings they shamelessly had,
Desiring for richer impressions from bad.
Their temperaments Robert could easy detect:
When troubadours speaking a strange dialect
Would stop at the manor for rest and repose,
The boys of the Pantry were first to suppose
That making a show of our wealth was the key
To spreading our name for all Leighton to see.
They modeled their action on Anchorwae’s fame:
Impressing the comp’ny was always the game,
And so to these ends did they manage supplies
Like treasure so valued, time only it buys.
Again I’d eschew them their outlooking needs.
No use would I have for desire that bleeds
And swoons for applause from a transient few,
Neglecting to give of its chivalric due.

The third class of squires where duty performed,
Belonged to that drink wherein bodies were warmed.
They saw that the guests round the table were served
With wine -- that tradition of ages preserved.
For lightly lit meals would the claret be poured,
A mix where the wine had with honey been stored.
And for those occasions where nobles were sent,
Uncorked were the bottles of heavy piment:
This old Dionysus was potently aged,
It loosed up the laughter that everyone caged,
Gave flight to the freedom of jovial mirth,
Its casks were the wombs wherein joy had its birth.
(So rich is piment with its purse of good cheer,
The abbey has held from it many a year,
And brothers within it, a vow must we take,
To never of happy pimenta partake.)

With certain a fellow I sometimes would speak,
Despite that the bond of our friendship was weak.
A Squire of the Wines was assigned his degree,
For Michael was named with an air bel-esprit.
He often would talk of the ladies of court.
For him were the layers of Love but a sport.
And as there are laws that do govern our hearts,
The lovelier layers had minimal parts.
Not ugly was Michael -- ‘twas definite true:
His handsome-like manner the ladies could woo.
The privilege of knighthood was only his tool
To make good impressions with skills of his school
On maidens that doted for any a squire
Who gave his attentions to stoking their fire.

The role of a Squire of Honours was filled
By noble, good Duncan, amazingly skilled,
As if, by the nature of pedigree lines,
His birth had the purpose of Honours’ designs.
He’d sit on a horse with his head stately high,
His posture a model for all to espy.
Or else with a scroll in his hand to announce,
How artful his speech would then playfully bounce.
No doubt he did know it: his manners were true.
His life from the tapestries doubtlessly grew.
Whenever his voice would he venture to talk,
Where ever his body he fancied to walk,
There went with him power commanding to all,
Compelling attention to Duncan the Tall.
‘Twas in the fulfillment of Honours, his role,
He’d see stately functions and marshal some whole.
When Robert would hold his receptions and feasts,
‘Twas Duncan who’s duties were almost a priest’s.
If I were to finger one fault in his name,
'Twould be of a pride in his heart to lay blame.
But easily pardoned, I hasten to add --
In Duncan’s religion, how little was bad!
His friendship was deeply sincere and concerned,
His power was laughter that always returned
To feed hungry ears with their succulent charm,
Rejoicing success and ne’er wishing for harm.

As Squire of Carver was Richard assigned
To work with the meats and make mealtimes refined.
From Duncan his temperament differently flared,
And alternate anger with laughter was shared.
But Richard believed in his future as I:
His longing for knighthood a lust in his eye.
And painfully slowly the days passed their turn,
When shackled impatience for freedom did yearn
To break from the dungeon of sights immature,
And rise to where privilege would fin’ly confer.
Of sounding the washing horn Richard would call
The guests to the water that merry would fall
Across their more gentle and hungrier hands.
And then by the table at duty he stands,
To serve them their venisons, stews and delights,
Dessert them their fruits and their pastrier bites.

And as I did say once afore in this piece,
My place was confirmed at Sir Robert’s release,
To Squire of Body where I would attend
All aspects of life that his schedule did send.
I witnessed assemblies and calls of the courts,
I company gave him on hunting and sports.

I held with his Lady a special rapport,
Exchanged with her often our memory’s store,
And marveled her elegant beauty and poise
While speaking to share her appreciate joys.
Her birth in the capitol Canton of Leeds
Could serve as th’ambassador always it needs.
‘Twas from her real stories of life in the North,
Where constant the sight of the Palace called forth
Unquestioned acceptance of service to sing
More dutiful psalms of exalting the king,
I came to have bolstered my heart every day
To boldly give Andrew my chivalrous pay.
Her name was itself a poetic design,
A softer recount from a lyrical line.
Affected by nothing of earthly assail,
‘Twas Catherine, the Lady of Meadowsford Dale.
She taught me the courtesies, manner of speak,
The social distinctions that carefully seek
To find their expression in civilized minds
And peel from behaviour the bitterest rinds.
I came to adopt a more noble-like way,
A method of acting that differed by day,
According to company, creature or care,
So I with Sir Robert could practice my share.
In essence, I was full afforded the right
To be with my master from dawn until night.

And so when a page in a pant sought to see
Sir Robert in chamber, I found company
To hear me the news that was told in discord:
Meek Tom had returned and defied my good lord.
The walls of oblivion I had up-built
To keep back the waters of pain and of guilt
Could not in that moment withstand the great flood
Of mem’ries made tearful and clouded with mud.
So taken was I with misgivings and fear,
In knowing that peril for Thomas was near.