Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sir Gallivant and the Dragon

I told Tex that I would uncover my two or three story poems, and post the most recent one.

A bit of backstory first.

The following poem is stilted and old fashioned, the endpiece to a book of fairy tales written in 2005 by kids where I work. They illustrated their stories, wrote poems about themselves, and short biographies, and I took their photos and put everything together in a chapbook format. (A thick chapbook!)

Since there were stories of dragons, knights, and assorted creatures--there were also a few more modern tales, or ones including unexpected combinations of characters--I decided to write a different take on the typical dragonslayer tale. So, if you can look past the contrived rhyming, here's the result:

Sir Gallivant and the Dragon

In ancient time when dragons roamed,
there lived a knight without a home.
He rode a horse bold, black and fleet,
and dragons slew for silver fee.
One day into a vale he rode
to find a dragon said so bold
it neither hid nor made its home
in mountains high and made of stone
nor caverns deep and dark and cold,
but on a hill ‘mid trees of gold.

He came upon a village small
and asked the people, one and all,
to show to him the dragon’s lair,
and thus help him their lives to spare.
They turned their heads and closed their doors,
and to the knight they spake no more.
Puzzled, Sir Gallivant set forth
with dented shield and gleaming sword,
and ventured to the golden wood.
Under its leafy shade there stood

a warning courteous and strong:
“No peddlers, please, or lookers-on.
“Passers, take heed: Beware the dog.”
Leaving the horse, a path he trod
‘neath pleasant trees, through ribboned mist,
and the cavern he almost missed,
for grass grew green up to its mouth.
Sir Gallivant began to doubt
a dragon roved the quiet dell—
no bones nor smoke nor bitter smell

gave proof it was the creature’s lair,
but then before his eyes appeared
a dragon wond’rous to behold
with scales of blue and claws of gold.
Hidden, crouched low, in vain he sought
the creature’s subtle, fatal flaw.
A passing merchant’s cart o’erturned;
the dragon gathered all the urns
and set the cart aright again,
and sent the merchant on his way.

Sir Gallivant saw people come
and pay the beast for favors done:
for metal pierced, for meals cooked through,
for boulders moved and trees down-hewn.
Now understood the gallant knight
why in the valley people might
refuse to help him find the place
where dwelt one of the dragon race
who was so peaceful, kind, and rare
that folk approached without a care.

His gleaming sword he set aside,
his dented shield the knight let lie,
and to the dragon did he go,
and there Sir Gallivant bowed low.
“I never knew goodness could be
within a creature such as thee.”
The dragon smiled and did forgive
the humble knight and bade him live
in the cavern and help sustain
all lowly folk who sought his aid.

He found at last a place to dwell,
within a secret gilded vale,
and there he lived to great old age,
he and the dragon, Cera Mage.
Even the horse—bold, black, and fleet—
some people say can still be seen
bearing Sir Gallivant’s pale shade
to help the weak and render aid
to anyone who yet may dream
of magic, myth, and make-believe.

c. Keanan Brand, May 2005


Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

You are too modest...this poem is incredible. I loved it! So a dragon can have a heart after all....what's next in that enchanted land, trolls who repair bridges so billy goats can go on their way....or witches who cook up potions to heal the ailing...?...:)

What a wonderful world this would be! But, I guess it sure would put the knights out of business.

That part about the knight living to great old age...made me think of the last Indian Jones movie, and that fantastic knight who guarded the 'holy grail' for so many hundreds of years.

I think the blogging world is reviving the art and popularity of poetry.

I'd enjoy reading more of your poems. Lovely cadence, which isn't always easy to do when one is telling a story through poetry.

The Texican said...

There was a bard within the Fort who penned a poem Olde. And all who read the dragons tale were glad that it was tolde. You dun good. :)


Thanks, y'all.

I think the genesis of the kindhearted dragon came from the novels I've been writing. I am constantly surprised by what my characters do and say; I was surprised the day that a villain-dragon spoke, and surprised the day another dragon proved a friend to the human characters.

By the way, I do enjoy the Indiana Jones films, and am looking forward to the new one that is coming out soon.

As for putting knights out of business, well, I was reminded of the film Dragonheart, when the last dragon and the last slayer teamed up to rook folks out of their money. Funny concept which, of course, goes wrong.

Eamon said...

Hi Keanan

Really good stuff. It reminded me a bit of The Canterbury Tales (not the subject matter but the style). Do you like The Canterbury Tales at all, or is there no connection?


I didn't even think about the Tales, but they are written in couplets, aren't they? Might have been a subliminal thing, everything mixing and mashing together in the gray cells until something not-quite-new is created.

Anonymous said...

Lord, love a duck Keanan! Its great! I agree with Lavinia. If you haven't read my response to your comment on my ashtray post, I have your poster hanging in my living room! We must be of kindred spirits. :)


A few weeks ago, Dad came by for an impromptu visit, and he spent a lot of time staring at the poster-print, marveling at how the artist captured the light through fabric, the texture of stone and mail and hair.

Two of his brothers were artists; one died, one gave it up for a while, but I think he's begun again, not with paint but with pencil, his preferred medium. He can reproduce a photograph so well that sometimes it's hard to tell which is Kodak and which is .05 lead.