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VxPoem ID: 1330
Posted: January 24th. 2004 9:24:37 AM
King Arthur Chronicles : The ballad of king Arthur
by Jemma Hawtrey
Age Group: Adult
The (unofficial) ballad of king Arthur
The tale that I am weaving
Starts in AD 484
So go and get the beers in
And I shall tell thee more
The tale it starts as I leave my home
The old castle on the hill
My father is Ector de Maris,
Elderly knight of some great skill
I had taken the kings shilling
For to battle whom I was bid
But I just sort of stopped (and hid)
While they went on their way
Deserter is a dirty word
And one that I don’t use
At least I wasn’t at the game
To watch the buggers loose
(… Three hundred knights to nil, what a washout…)
So on one fine sunny morning
I sat in a local pub
With a jug of the landlords finest
And chicken a la tub.
Now as I got to eating
A strange looking chap walks in
The straggly beard was nothing special
The dress, that’s another thing!
Now soon, us we got chatting
As lads are wont to do
He said his name was Merlin
I said “Arther, tis nice to meet you too”
After a few more measures,
Merlin said to me
“I’ve got a cert, old Art my lad
We really cannot loose.”
I’ve heard that phrase so many times
And never to my gain
But I was three sheets to the wind
And Merl was never sane
So he told me of a distant vale
All windswept and bereft
Where for unknown reasons
A broadsword had been left
We agreed then and there
To collect this item rare
To pick it up, sell it on
And split the proceeds, firm and fair.
It took three days to get to that damned vale
I was hungover as I recall
And ole Merl he looked quite pale
Our saddles chafing something cruel
We tumbled slowly off our mounts
And as we clambered to our feet
The sight we saw quite beggared
Merl, he had been straight with me
The sword was a joy to see
8 feet long and finest steel
Must have cost a pretty fee.
The one slight problem we could see
And one that vexed us both
Was that the blade was cased with stone
As swords don’t tend to be.
As you might now imagine
I wasn’t that amused
Being sat in the backend of Wales
When I could be on the booze.
So we sat there quite confuzzled
And debated what to do
But after 3 odd hours thinking
We still hadn’t got a clue.
We walked up to the stone
With its blade all silver blue
We examined it quite closely
The thing it looked brand new
Merlin gave the hilt a pull
It shifted not an inch
He kicked and swore and kicked some more
Till finally he was still.
I went up to the blade
And gave it such a wrench
It slid right out as if from glass,
And I landed on my ass.
And suddenly from the lake behind
We heard the oddest sound
We turned to look and then to stare
As our jaws both fell to ground.
“Who in hell’s this watery bint”
Merl was heard to stammer
She glared at him with flashing eye
We thought we were to die
“Now, your name would be Merlin” (…“I prefer merl”…)
“And yours it would be Arthur”
And these will be the names
By which you will be known for ever after
“Merlin the great wizard
From this time forth be known
And Arthur, King everlasting
Camelot shall be your home”
Oh, and before you think of saying
“This really isn’t fair”
There really isn’t an appeal
And I really do not care!
The country needs a hero
Of that you both well know
As Danish battleaxes into Britons
Really should not go!
… (“yeah, they tend to make a mess” quipped merl – you don’t want to know what that little comment earned him… but that’s another story) …
I know you hopeless wet-slaps
Really haven’t got a clue
But you’re all that bothered to turn up
So I suppose you’ll have to do.
Now Merlin you have the power
To bend men to your will
The powers of the witta
That’s what I’ve given you
Arthur, there is one gift
That I have yet to bestow,
A gift that you should never leave
For why? I’ll let you know.
But first a question for you
An answer, all I need
And then I’ll give you good advice
That you should always heed
In which do you find more beauty
Of the two objects you now hold
The sword with the dance of the skies in
Or the scabbard for to hold it
The scabbard, battered and old.
I at once replied to our friend
“In truth I find more for the sword”
That earned me another dirty look
And my ear she did bend
“The scabbards value is countless
For all its battered charm
For with it you are wound-less
And cannot come to harm.”
She said then you must leave me
And go unto the world
So all those Danish bacon men
Can from our shores be hurled.
We left her then alone
Standing on that windswept moor
And I quietly mentioned to merl
That if he meets a nymph again
Don’t call her a “watery hoar”
From far behind she watched us go
Sadly shaking her fine head
What do they teach the men these days
I really do not know
O, Great God Herne where are you now?
We really need a word!
And at the call a mist arose
And a thunderclap was heard
I am here, and yes I know!
The horned figure shook his head
I think the apprentice is responsible
Tis a shame he’s already dead!
I don’t think the boss will be amused
Not amused at all
I think that we’d best lie low
Wait about nine hundred years, then have another go!
(…Ye Hundred Years War… don’t even go there!)
Now, as for Merl and I
She was right, we hadn’t a clue
We’d got the sword for which we’d come
What now should we do?
We knew we couldn’t sell it
And returning it was out
As we really did not want to know
What evils her anger could bestow
Soon we came unto a pub
The true mans favourite place
And there we entered as oft before
With intent to get off our face.
But, yet again our jaws hit ground
With surprise and disbelief
As all inside knelt on the ground
And called of me the chief
Merl he said “well, bugger me,
That watery bint was right!”
“I heard that” the wind it growled
He didn’t sleep for three long nights!
After some discussion
We both came to agree
We’d do as the girl had asked of us
And then we’d wait and see
I searched hard for Camelot
Looked at all the castles I could find
While Merl he worked upon
His newfound powers of mind.
I had never seen a donkey
With sixteen or so legs
But I think the one that wins the crown
Was the rabbit that laid eggs!
I could go on in many verses
About his strange creations
The glowing mists and dancing fish
And Latin incantations.
But I had found a place for Camelot
A massive hill girt with ditches
With views over the fields
Yet handy for the shops
We built the place in record time
In stone mortared with lime
And soon after we’d finished
Our friend appeared a second time
She said “you have done quite well,
I am really quite impressed”
“Now that this is all complete
You shall continue in your quest”
“Cause to be made a mighty table
A hundred places round
And fill each mighty siege
With the finest knights that may be found”
Now this will take you many years
Through a many great adventures
But be warned not to judge on gold,
But on their pure intentions.
So Merl and I we both sat down
These orders for to ponder
It seemed our nymph was planning out
Our lives til times far yonder.
As women of a certain age well know
And ones young learn when they can
This type of thought with a happy man
Cannot be said to go.
But that my friend is by the by
And not crucial to this story
For if I covered all events
The result would surely bore thee
So Merl and I divide our tasks
And went to it with a will
I was searching for skilled carpenters
(And pretty girlies on the pill)
Merl he had the harder task
To use his gifts and skills
To finds such knights, as had a clue
That the enemy hadn’t marked as kills
The first he found was brave Sir Kai
(Or at least, that’s what they call him)
I should know, from long ago
A gentle tap about the face
Would reduce the boy to tears
Sir Kai, he is my brother
Or at least, that’s what I thought
His mind was quick and his wits sharp,
But his temper rather short.
New knights appeared at Camelot
And took fealty at my knees
But the adoration of sweaty men
I have never counted in my ‘needs’
(Now Merl, on the other hand….)
This king you see was getting bored
And indeed rather lonely
For when you can have their heads cut off
Pretty girls don’t want to bone thee
(Nowadays they call it ‘performance related pay’)
So I sent out proclamations
Across this fair land so green
For fair maidens to take my hand
And I to take their …!
I hoped that she’d have sultry eyes
Like the colour of summer sky
And it certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing
If she turned out to be bi.
(AN: Chivalrous yes, repressed? no!)
Women came to Mount Camelot
From all compass directions
Most it seems, I am sad to say
With my wallet in their intentions
And after time had marched its way
For six long months or more
I had resigned myself to being celibate
Ignored the sayings of kingly lore
As to that ruddy table
The less I say is best
If I meet another carpenter in this life
I’ll put a broadsword through his chest!
First it was the size of it
For which they found fit to complain
Then they couldn’t source the woods
So they started off again!
At last I solved the argument
In a kingly way I’m sure
To make the point, I called the guards
And left some heads upon the floor
(Funny, I never had any problems with contractors after that…)
But still I lacked one thing
To help me on my quest
That pretty girl with big blue eyes
And nicely racked up chest
I searched for months
Both north and south
And east to west
Things were not going well
Till finally I fetched up
At a distant country pub
The beer they served was pretty good
And they did tolerable grub
And it was after several pints
That a new barmaid started shift
And tho’ I was drunk I was sure!
I had found my winner.
Her big blue eyes and long blonde hair
Would have had Bede all a fluster
(AN: And he being celibate and all!)
And her long slim legs and enormous chest
They certainly passed my muster!
We talked and talked the long night through
And walked the days away
By rivers blue, in woodlands green
Bedecked with morning dew
(AN: and yes that is a euphemism!)
Guinivere she had a loving heart
And dancing eyes with dimples in her cheeks
And if you were so minded
The girl could go for weeks!
(Art: she was also good with figures, something I should, in hindsight, have taken more notice of!)
But enough of me and my love life
We should head back to Merl,
Our favourite dress-wearing guy
At Camelot we find the bearded girl…
For by use of his great powers over
Many a long day
Many fine and powerful knights
Had assembled or were on their way
However Merl had sent to me a message
Both short and not that sweet
That several thousand hangers on
Need quite a lot to eat
And that in order to keep all
In the luxuries they would see
The bills concerned were very high
And soon brassic we would be!
We thought and thought into the nights
After I got back to Camelot
But after 3 weeks or so
We hadn’t figured what to do.
But then a knight of prowess great
Came to us for a chat
With a plan he’d made from his old trade
To put the accounts right back on track
This chaps name was Lancelot
A strapping lad with long blond hair
Handy with a broadsword
Or the occasional pub chair
He said before to Camelot I came
I had resigned the fighting game
And it was in financial services
That I really made my name!
What you do is simple
Just follow from my lead
An index linked re-mortgage
Is the puppy that you need!
This will give you liquid assets
For a nominal monthly fee
Then you will be back in black
But the best we were yet to see
(AN: you just know where this is going don’t you!)
“Theme parks” he crowed with shining eye
One in every county!
We thought that he’d gone crazy
He continued on and on
Warming to his theme
And after several hours of this
We were sore pressed not to scream
Eventually we gave in
Gave Lancelot carte blanche
And ran away very fast
For a very liquid lunch
And let us all be honest
At first the plan went well
It was only sometime later
That the whole thing went to hell
There are several other knights
That are known in lists of fame
Although several of the others
Weren’t really in the game.
The Four of Orkney you’d know well
And Bors and Galahad
Lancelot (de Andersonus-Consultii) the fighting financier
And Tristram, whose love life was so sad!
There were others of name unknown
Who mainly served as extras
Credited as “nameless butch knight”
The contract term for “cannon fodder”
And so we went along the years,
Things going as they will
And soon a limited company launched
Camelot (holdings) Ltd – Amusement Parks & the Pennyroyal PillÔ.
(AN: things close to Arts heart there. Having his cake and eating it so to speak..)
But in the world of business
As in the world of war
Profits they can plummet
As well as they can soar
Art and Merl had done so well
And they were really not to know
As Merl later said to the KTI1
“Its that Lancelot who’s to blame!”
The enquiry it was painful,
Detailed and far reaching
And by the end of all the fuss
Our balance sheets were screeching
Camelot, for which we’d worked
Was close to going under
And danger was, that if it did
The Danish consortia would return for our rich plunder
But again it was our friendly nymph
Who finally saved the day
But at a cost that all of us
Would rue in a future far away.
She said she was in finance too
Which got Lance’s swift attention
But when that oddly manly nymph appeared
It suffered swift deflation
(Merl: that wasn’t the only thing that deflated either!)
She offered venture capital
At a very reasonable fee
The return of that battered scabbard
That she’d once given me
I really didn’t have a choice
Such was plain to see
So I took it to the knights arrayed
What would the answer be?
With heavy heart the vote it went
And the answer came back yea
I later heard she sold it on
To some woman named Morgana le Fay…
Camelot was back again
Our fortunes on the rise
But unbeknownst to all of us
We were watched by hungry eyes
As years they passed, And the circles turned
Things went from hard to harder
Competition was getting strong
And tinned salmon in the larder
The sharks they were a’swimming
Around the boardroom door
When Art walked in and found
Lance and Guinnie on the floor!
Now Merl, he counselled caution
When the king he had calmed down
But Art banished them on the spot
On pain of execution
Things soon went from bad to worse
For soon the news it came
That Lance and Guin were
Consulting for the competition!
Soon things came to crisis point
And hostile bids received
That would result in battle
And senior heads being cleaved
Reports came in of takings down
And profit disintegration
The promise of a chivalric age
Collapsing thoughout the nation
So finally the dream it ends
At a hotel on Badon Hill
Where the Camelot board
Swallow the bitter pill
The battle it was long and hard
With claim and counter claim
Till only Art and one loyal knight were left
A bare lad who worked the returns till.
Finally Art he fell
His bonus mortally wounded
And to the boy at his side
His sword he finally handed
“Get rid of it, ” he muttered
“Throw it in the lake”
All that I have been through
Is for that damn things sake!
But the lad he went and hid it
In his travel chest
For surely another finance plan
Would be for the best
The king he asked, “what did you see”
The knight he did reply
“A massive splash upon the lake,
And some geese they set to fly!”
“So where is it boy?”
Art was heard to growl
“I know you’ll see more when the act is done
Than some ruddy brainless fowl!”
The knight he went
With broadsword clutched in hand
But tho he stood right by the shore
The weapon didn’t leave his hand
So he returned to the king
Another story arrayed in mind
But the things that Art said then
Really weren’t that kind
The boy went back unto the lake
And threw with all his might
And as he did the lake it shone
With a silvery glowing light
A girl appeared with flowing hair
Of water she was made
Her hand she raised and she caught
The spinning, flashing blade
The knight he upped and legged it
Back to where poor Art was sat
And helped him slowly to the shore
To a stone seat and there they sat
Art shook his head and swore most foul
“Oh gods, not her again”
“It’s a shame that she’s immortal,
For she’s the cause of all my pain”
At this the nymph she glared at him
And stamped a pretty foot
Don’t blame me for everything
You were supposed to be a king!
You should have fought mighty battles
With broadswords deadly ring
That bards and storytellers
Would over the ages sing.
But no, you were content in business
Boardroom coups your legacy
In the business pages
Are your battles that we see
And now what I have I got
A’ sipping at his Gin
The once and future shopkeeper
A manager cased in tin!
Well hear me now and listen well
For this shall be your fate
Take to this boat with all your men
And we shall away across the lake
At yonder hill out in the mist
Our landfall we will make
And you and yours I’ll set to sleep
Till some far distant date
Your duty in that far time
Will be different from the plan
Instead of saving the nation
You’ll save the honest man
Where’ere the trader takes
More than is his due
And where the rich moneyed lord
Bleeds his peasants blue
There shall you stride with weapons drawn
And armour fine and blued
From used car lot to Rodin nude
Your power shall be rued
I give you now from first to last
A name that will be soon to fear
In the traders lexicon, as they will cry
“The knights of Trading Standards,
Tis they who venture here”
To that young knight
I make this simple charge
To write what happened here
For history at large.
And that’s the story, true every word, of Art & Merl and all.
And if you hear a different one please do not be fooled!….
Ó Durin ab Iceni 22/01/04 7:42pm
Author's Notes: wes thu hal friends
This is a *long* poem! 14 pages of A4 in all so its probably best if you print it and read it from hardcopy.
Before anyone tries to track me down and do nasty things to important parts of my anatomy the arthurian legends are some of my favourites.
I did this poem to see what I could do with my new found abilities in this area. I'd be pleased to hear what you all think of the result.
It comes from the more sarcastic side of my personality, if you havent noticed.. but I am nice really!
Special Greets to the following
*Annalegra & Anwen* - For writing such nice e-mails on the taster version of "king Arthur" and convincing me to continue with it.
*StoneWind* - For his kind comments on "The Dancers"
*Spiritsong* - For his interest in "Shield Wall" and "Sounds". If you are interested Spiritsong - have a look at "The Doubt" and tell me what you think.
Walk in light
Baldrick & Blackadder on Poetry...
(4th Series, Final Episode)
Bal: Dont worry sir, I could go on all night...
Bla: "Not with a bayonet through your neck you couldnt!!"
Author's Location: Colchester, England
More Poems: Jemma Hawtrey has posted 70 additional poems- View them?
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