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