Daaskmere Monk

William of Meadowsford

Book Cover

arrowShawn Postoff

Copyright © 1997 - 2009
arrowInfinitive Ink Limited


XV ill title Hard Competition

The sunrise next morning shone brief o’er the lands,
As colours through clouds went exploring in bands.
But soon what were stripes in the eastern-lit sky,
Were melted and merged with a soft, gentle sigh,
And came to a uniform thickness of grey,
To cover the sun on an overcast day.
But eyes turned to Heaven were destined to find
No tournaments jousting their lances aligned.
So I to the battle ahead set my mind,
Determined to fight as the King had designed.

The order of meetings was listed, then called,
And no one was absent to have it forestalled.
The field was divided and six courses cleared,
With eager competitors sectioned and tiered,
And pooled into groups of at most sixty-four,
So scribes could more easily mark them the score.
The King took his placement o’er-looking the field,
Upon a high scaffold bedecked with his shield,
So all who would greet him would find with their eyes
What winning would bring them - that ultimate prize.
Before I was called there was run seven rounds,
Where horses converged on the lengthy grass bounds,
And seven were beaten, each felled from his horse,
While seven more squires remained on the course.

‘Twas then I was summoned to joust number eight,
With scarcely a moment for plans to create.
My pages assisted me up to my mount,
And handed my lance with a solemn account.
Then ‘cross to my challenge I faced with my suit:
I nodded, and graciously gave a salute.
Then turned to my King who at ease did recline,
And gestured to Him an acknowledgement sign.
My mask with a ‘squeak’ and a ‘clank’ was then flipped,
With one final check of my armour equipped.
Then hearing the signal the marshal had blown,
My horse to a gallop was instantly thrown.

The distance between us ‘came tighter and closed.
I lowered my lance, as did he who opposed.
Then braced for the impact approaching and near,
And felt the confusing excitement and fear.
The hooves trampled hard on the ground, in my head,
The wind through the slits of my eyesight was fed.
Then sud’ly my armour was buckled and hit.
My metal-made skin did protest with a fit.
A thundering clap ‘round my body was rung,
And breathing was banned from each terrified lung.
My chest was thrown back and the vision in view
Was snapped to my saddle then upwards it flew.
I vaguely took note of my hand in retreat,
The lance it had held had been cracked in defeat.
Then flashes of falling careened through my sight,
And I, in a daze, felt the galloping flight.

But when I’d arrived at the end of the field,
And realized that still I’d not given to yield,
I halted and turned my good stallion around,
And saw my opponent now sprawled on the ground.
Applause came politely to quickly abate.
A scribe made a note that I’d won number eight.

Still twenty-four matches remained after mine,
So I, with my pages, took rest to refine
The methods that next I would work to employ,
So still with success I’d go on to enjoy.

When sixty-four squires had jousted them all,
And thirty-two winners were left to recall,
The cycle was started again from the first,
And sixteen more times would the field be traversed.
My second time riding was not as before:
My fear had abated a little bit more,
And now I invested my effort ahead
To joust even better, unthwarted by dread.
My win was recorded, advancement secured,
I numbered among those who still had endured.

Now eight confrontations remained to be seen.
Excitement was growing where little had been.
The orders were posted and I was prepared
A third time to have me compete and compared.
And now as my confidence rooted and grew,
My state came relaxed even tho’ I still knew
That each one defeated promoted one more
Whose skill was ranked higher than cycles before.
So trust rose in hand with the challenge and art,
And as I sat mounted, awaiting my start,
I glanced at the shield of the King, now alert,
And visions of I as its charge did subvert
My focused intent for which discipline stood.
But thoughts such as those would not do any good,
So quickly I banished their likes from my head,
And sought in my mem’ry for tactics instead.

The signal was sounded, and spurred was my horse,
He raced me along the uprooted-grass course.
I lowered my lance and gave target to point,
My hand to its handle became a new joint.
And as was prescribed by the skill of the game,
My weapon positioned its drive and its aim
So striking my charging opponent, the blow
Would hit at his stomach, and from his mount throw.

With contact I saw that the theory was true,
And tho’ I was struck in the chest I still knew
That I had but simply my body lean back,
And thereby deflect his momentous attack.
But hitting his gut produced different results:
My soft-wooden lance in an arc did convulse,
Then reaching a climax of tension and height,
The tip was released to restore the shape right,
And springing the lance to its straightening sight,
The squire at its mercy was popped into flight.

So now I had triumphed my third joust of three.
My number became among eight who would be
The battling contestants from pool number five.
That shield ‘came the food for my hunger to drive.

The order was summoned and two bouts were had,
Then I for the third one was eagerly clad,
And armed with my lance and with faith in my wits,
I readied the best of my strategy’s hits.
I charged at the sound of the signaling start,
Emboldened by voices that cheered my depart.
The seconds that saw my convergence ran fast,
As thunder and power beneath me was cast.
Then making my contact, the pacing was slowed,
And each subtle detail before my eyes flowed:
My lance was on target and started its arc,
But too my opponent had hit on his mark,
And taken by powerful impact and force,
I felt that my body was leaving my horse.
My weapon had finally arched its extent,
Its wooden construction was ready and bent.
Then sud’ly I felt the collapse in my back,
And heard from my spearhead a splintering crack.
My horse flew away from the vision I held,
And clearly I knew I was finally felled.