“Meeting on the Turret Staircase” By Frederic William Burton

“Keep your sword arm up!”
she used to shout to me
from the gallery
as I climbed to my feet
from the mud
of the proving grounds
black flies buzzing
a taunt at my ears
The horse in the stables
laughing at the
ever increasing soreness
in my rump
the boiling red heat
at the sides of my neck
did little to sway
The weapon master’s
ire and the threat that I should
understand swordplay better
or I shall be sent
flat arsed against the ground again
to gain another contusion

Her voice rising above
The sweltering summer heat
Did little to improve my
skill with a blade
but drove my heart
to pound ever more prominent
in my ears
that I should remember
that when the day is passed
and I have removed
the leather and the padding
and stowed away these wooden blades
ever so gentle as an autumn breeze
would find me sitting
alone in the garden
and with the grace of an angel
would her fingers move to soothe
rough skin and purple blotches
and sacrilegiously place
her lips upon pain ravaged flesh
beneath the stars and all of heaven
was her attention given
to warn away
daemons of doubt
and no longer did my thoughts
dwell upon that which I could not do
..did not dwell upon
things which in other men’s sight
I might be rendered deficient
My mind was hers
and only through her
was I to understand the language
of our hearts

For my heart
does not speak to me
in times when she does not
stand near
my eyes do not see
The beauty of the world
except when
I follow the line of her gaze
to the flower
in those times
am I shown
the wonder of the universe
in those times
when her fingers embrace mine
am I made to understand
that to feel her flesh against mine
is why
atom for atom I was created

and not for
the winds of war
do I labor to learn the sword
not for the glory of battle
do I don mail and tabard
and not for a king’s ransom
do I move with haste in the direction
of pitched battle
it is for this
soul which meets me on the stair
as I descend from the watchtower
and for this heart
that without a word
speaks to mine
and says
“Keep your sword arm up!”

About Eric

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22 Responses to Man-at-arms…

  1. Absolutely Delicious Sir. **deep sigh**

  2. thefeatheredsleep says:

    I have always LOVED that painting. One thing about your writing (I”m so in love with your subject-matter but you know this) is that you don’t shy away from writing quite lengthy poems. Someone on my old site said that longer poems were not very modern, urgh, whatever, I love longer poems they remind me of our favorite Tennyson, and they’re very Ancient Mariner in my mind, something very romantic about carrying on a story and not just some short-sound-bite (screw Twitter basically). So I’m a FAN. Oh I’m more than a fan I’m a pre-stalker, I’m in love with your subject, your world, your viewpoint, your damn fine heart. You do this world CREDIT my friend.

  3. Meg Sorick says:

    This is majestic, romantic and captivating! I love the storytelling aspect of your writing, Sir Eric! 😍

  4. Rita says:

    Brother, this is marvelous. I love, love, love your way with a story of love and honor. I just do.

  5. Purpleanais says:

    From the length to everything else, this is old-fashioned romantic poetry and it’s beau-ti-ful! ❤

  6. Eric says:

    Thank you, Lady. 😉

  7. Eric says:

    thank you, Beautiful! ❤

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