Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Here Lies Arthur by Phillip Reeve

This is my response to Here Lies Arthur by Phillip Reeve. Enjoy.

You hear the bard sing tale of my youth and exploits

He told of my play, not deeds

So I return to finish my song

The headless man in reeds.

We return to my story in the midst of battle

As we should far away of Arthur’s men

A rapid chase through wood and pine

With one who destroyed home and killed kin.

He showed and stole a woman

While through the woods he fled

And by some luck of god or goddess

His horse attacked and fell

He got back up and drew his blade

A short and pointed lance

I saw and lowered my shield

But not in time to thwart his glance

Through flesh and bone to flesh and bone

To my steed my leg was stuck

Then both went crashing to the ground

Goddess curse my luck.

I screamed and whimpered like a girl

Pounds of flesh pressed into my flank

Two comrades pulled me from the carcass

And carried me back to town on a plank

In my brother’s house I was kept

Surrounded by he, his woman and babes

And I cried more than the youngest one

When Myrridin said I’d be lame

The wound itself was deep and red

The bones within were shattered

Medwrat said, while holding my head

That god would make me better

Arthur’s wife was there too, Gwenhwyfar

Barely seen in the corner

My cause she took and had me moved

To heal better in her care

Anger seeped from my pores

That I didn’t die that night

What use to Arthur is a man

Who cannot stand and fight?

All the women sent to tend to me

I sent them all away

Even the one I took in a raid

Who came and wept all day

Those who saw me were few

My attitude made them flee

My brother, only would see me after

The only I could stand to see

What he didn’t know was I envied him

Riding with Arthur to war

Confined to this room alone

In bed, an awful bore

Console me, yes, he tried to do

With stories of the past

I’d be up and running by fall of leaf

Sometimes I thought him an ass

But somewhere within his words gave me strength

As did the stories he told

At midsummer I tried walking

Not strong enough on my own

A staff I gave all my weight

Each step filled with pain

But not halfway ‘cross the terrace

I had fallen and was crying again

Gwenhwyfar tried encouragement

Then she held me when I cried

I relaxed there, she stroked my hair

Then something stirred inside

She sent for wine and barley cakes

Then sent her girl away

Over this we spoke of future

And made plans for me to stay

She said, “Bedwyr, you’ll be my champion

When Arthur’s men are gone

When they all ride off to wars

And leave us all alone”

I was excited by this prospect

Being useful once more

But more excited for other things to come

What Gwenhyfar had in store

She told me of a sacred place

Where spring water ran too hot

Where reeds and weeds had overgrown

The bath that time forgot

I was to meet her there

The temple at the heart

There we expressed our love

Never to be torn apart

There’s a heightened sense of something I missed

Being with Gwenhyfar

It’s not the love we share together

But maybe danger, maybe fear

But every morning tending the horses

I think of the moments we share

The touch of her hands, the feel of her skin

The silkyness of her hair

But sooner or later Arthur must return

And what to come of us then?

Though he has never had interest in her

And we both are naught but men

So I ask “what will we do when Arthur comes home?”

And Gwenhwyfar says he may not

That he may be cut down as Valerius once was

And left in the battlefield to rot

I say that Arthur cannot be killed

Warriors like him never can

Not long as he carries Caliburn

He is Britannia’s safest man

We go around in circles

Predicting Arthur’s demise

Suggesting Cei take his place

His rule would be more wise

I told her I’d kill Arthur

Then she’d be mine to wed

We both knew I could barely stand

And that Arthur’d have my head

I told her that I’d treasure her

The way Arthur never did

I never saw her as an aged woman

Though we’d never have a kid

The last night in the darkness

A small voice called out “Lady?”

A girl appeared with startling news

That Arthur was back already

The girl made plans to save us

But it already was too late

We just stared, holding each other

Already sealing our fate

Arthur came in and bellowed

His voice echoed from the stone

Though I knew he was my kinsman

I knew I wouldn’t go home

Lightning flared on Caliburn

Arthur’s sacred blade

And from the hatred flash in his eye

His hand would not be stayed

My head was left in sacred spring

My lady’s shift was sprayed with red

Warrior, lover, champion, now

All I am is dead

You heard my story of youth and play

And now one of my deeds

Now I leave having told my story

The headless man in reeds.

No comments: