Daaskmere Monk

William of Meadowsford

Book Cover

arrowShawn Postoff

Copyright © 1997 - 2009
arrowInfinitive Ink Limited


XIII ill title Appeasing Words

When into a pool one invades with a stone,
The stillness is stirred not from where it was thrown,
But rather the point on the water it lands
Results in a ripple that quickly expands.
So here was the Dragon who tossed us a flint,
That fell to the castle with casual dint,
And now the calm kingdom, the tranquil blue loch,
Awoke in the ripples expanding of shock.
In rings of intelligence messages went,
Conveying by horseback King Andrew’s intent
To call from the cantons the noblest of souls,
And find their allegiance in greatest of goals.

That I was no knight made no difference to me.
As squire, I still could fight valiantly.
And so at the manor of Meadowsford Dale,
The practices ended and donned was our mail.
Sir Robert and Wimstayme had destrier mounts,
As well as those other brave knights and accounts
Who’d been there that day when the Dragon was born,
And struggled to laugh when to laugh was forlorn.

Good Richard and Duncan bestrode each a knight,
To carry his shield and his helm as was right.
And I tending Robert, kept pace at his side,
His shield I displayed and his arms-coat I cried.
The palfreys ‘pon which the good ladies oft rode,
Were absent this time from our traveling mode,
For Robert had said that the battle ahead
Was not to be witnessed by ladies in dread.

Behind all the warriors and pages and squires
There followed the sommiers with baggage attires,
And still were these tended by servants who sat
Upon their stout roncins to boisterously chat.

Our lengthy procession was ready to start,
And so from the gates of the House did we part.
We left lovely Meadowsford, burning hearts bright,
To feel the blood rushing a yearning to fight.
From out of the valley our menie emerged,
And into the gallant parade we converged.
We rode with the thousands religiously fleeced,
Toward the great monster who dwelt in the East.

The land was alive as like never before.
On highways did swirl the bright banners galore
Of all the great Names and emblazons of arms,
With trumpeting heralds announcing alarms:
“The Houses of Turin, of Leeden, all hail!
Of Anchorwae, Hampton, and Meadowsford Dale!
We trust in the scribes who accomp’ny this might,
To fully record them this hist’ry and sight.
For Leighton has wakened to prove her good name,
And spirits have spoken in absence of shame!”

Like rivers of colour and sparkling bright bells,
The exodus made up of young damoiselles
And pages and varlets and squires and knights
Did flow to the sunrise with gleeful delights.

The minstrels had joined us full force as we rode,
For here was a story - a grand episode -
That soon they would carry to lands far away,
And sing of the courage they witnessed that day.
But often they offered us ballads and rhyme,
That served entertainment for passing the time.
‘Twas one that I heard held a resonant sound,
And in its old lyrics, a calling I found:

Come to listen, hear that song
Of music in my head,
Gather all around me warm
Our interest to be wed.

When my fields were younger
And the country was at peace,
Never could I understand
What light would fade and cease.

Moontime blackened up the sun
With ghosts that whirled and wailed,
Hoards of dark invaders
All the sanctity assailed.
Yet I know that one day soon

I’ll tread within its strands,
Armies serving Daaskmere
Will advance upon my lands.

I could not direct it, or give it a name.
The words in those verses I still could not tame.
But knew from uncompromised feelings within,
That here was a ballad where truth did begin.

In time, with distraction, its words I’d forget,
And other activities in my head set,
As slowly we marched over Leighton’s terrain,
And watched every night as the moonlight did wane.
Each church was a station where journey did pause,
To rest for a while and strengthen our cause.

And so when in Richmond we came to its shrine,
We took our communion of bread and sweet wine.
Then feeling the comfort of Christ in the air,
I kneeled by the altar and sung me some prayer.
“Dear God,” clasped my hands, “your image is bright.
I ask that you hear me this reverence tonight.
Tho’ gallant is this grand diversion and quest,
There lingers still doubt in the depth of my breast.
For sometimes in travel, we pass beggar bands,
Who look to us coldly, outstretched with their hands.
And tho’ I search always the truth of Saint John,
My heart oft compels me to travel still on.
In asking myself how this feeling can be,
I’ve come to believe that in beggars I see
The likes of Blind Tom, who still haunts me this day,
And threatens my mem’ry to never allay.
O Lord, will I ever escape from the sight
Of murdered old Tom on that damnable night?”

I must have been speaking my prayers to the air,
For op’ning my eyes I discovered me there
Good Wimstayme on knees at the right of my side,
And Robert who there at my left did preside.
Said Wimstayme, “Good William, your troubles we’ve known,
Not only from speech but the looks that you’ve shown.
Permit us to share in your questions and thoughts,
And leave us the license to answer your plots.”

“Dear captains,” I answered, “your heartfelt concern
Does stoke for a time the hot embers that burn
From deep in the hearth of my once fiery soul.
But lately the flames that did lick, spark and roll
Have fallen and cooled at the icy-blast wind
That blows through my brain when I think how I sinned.
Had Tom been an enemy worthy of sword,
I’d not have felt weakness in having him gored.
But battle was not in his nature or name:
He passed his days silently sitting the same.
So how can I justify here to my heart
An act so un-Christian it wounds me apart?
How honestly can I pretend to uphold
The values that Knights Hospitallers enfold?
We vow to protect and give hope to the weak,
Yet swearing such things admits lies that I speak.
To Tom and the Order my faith was betrayed,
That night when a passionate murder was made.
And so when you ask me to share what I think,
My only reply is to shiver and shrink.
For here, tho’ I kneel and my hands are enclasped,
The truth of my action says nothing’s been grasped.
I know me the posture to pose while I pray,
But speaking to God I know not what to say.”

“Your mourning for Thomas is noble and good,”
Came Robert’s response. “And believe, if I could,
I’d finish your troubles this instant in time,
And vanish from hist’ry the acts of your crime.
Those moments of anger are ancient and gone,
But still to this day their effect lingers on.
‘Twas like they were planted in mem’ry as seeds,
That now, in your earth, ‘tis orison that feeds,
And fertile remembrance gives root to remorse
That sprouts into thornbushes, poisoned and coarse.
So take this advice, gentle William, my boy,
When speaking to God you must resonate joy.
And tho’ to old Tom you should give him his due,
His name in your prayers should be only a cue
To grant him acknowledgement, peace in his rest,
So then to have other thoughts neatly progressed.
Your penance is done and your battle is fought.
The sadness of Thomas must now be forgot.
‘Tis all you can do to say, ‘God save his soul,’
And carry then on with your life and your goal.”

‘Twas Wimstayme continued the sermon from there,
“Of failing to live you must always beware,
If each open moment the thoughts in your head
Are blindly directed to those who are dead.
‘Tis true, you did slay him, tho’ sworn to protect,
But that is not cause for a siege to erect
Around the great castle that’s built in your name,
That rules but for gallantry, jousting, and game.
The time of repentance is over and past.
Accept what you’ve done and be livened at last.”

“Is this your permission,” I asked of the two,
“To look on the issue as finally through?”

“It is,” answered Robert, “e’en tho’ there’ll still be
The knowledge and mem’ry of what we did see.
But prayers unto Heaven should punish you not.
Instead, when old Thomas does enter your thought,
You always must trust that your actions were true,
And foster forgiveness for him and for you.”

“If that’s the instruction you wish me to heed,”
I said to them both, “then I’ll follow indeed.
I’ll work toward healing this wound in my heart,
And think on this quest a new lifeblood and start.
Sad Thomas will yearly be held in my mind,
When annual death-day I’ll mark it in kind
By lighting a candle and watching it burn,
Affirming my penance with prayer and concern.”

“Agreed,” said Sir Robert, “the method is made.
And plans for renewal are finally laid.
So come then to sleep, to that blissful respite,
Our journey resumes when the morning grows bright.”

So laying me down by the road near the church,
The softness of sleep for whose silence I’d search
Did come to me quickly, unrustled by dreams.
My blanket of rest had no wakening seams.