“Merlin at the Battle”

Today’s poem is another—the first since a year ago last month—poem in my series set in the Matter of Britain.

I stand upon the wall, with arms outstretched
To greet the morning and to quell its strife.
Because “the battle is not to the strong,”
Nor to those who will later tell the tale,
This day my hands upraised have greater weight
Than any hundred strokes of steel or pen.

I stand, and lift my eyes toward the heavens
To make what intercession is permitted
For the souls of those who fight below.
Oh, may the Lord of Armies, in his might,
Have mercy on these—quick and dead alike.

Though once I was a poet, now a mage,
And still a studying philosopher,
Above the greatest of these worthy tasks,
The greatest calling is to serve my God.

The day at last is over, and the strife,
So, arms beside me, I descend the wall
To greet the army of the conquering Arthur.

I originally wrote my first draft of this poem long ago, quite probably my sophomore or junior year of high school. I did some reorganization and minimal editing a few years after that, as part of a push to do the same thing to the whole cycle en masse. And then it sat in my “to-revise” folder for several more years.

I had started a poem I thought was going to be today’s poem, but which I was having trouble with, because I couldn’t see where the nest lines needed to lead. So I dug through my to-revise folder, hit on this one, and spent some time revising it.

And then, when I went to move those revisions to my master copy (which I keep under version-control, unlike the tool I was using for the revisions), I accidentally deleted both my revised version of this poem and my draft of the other. In the space of a few moments, several hours’ work had vanished into the ether (something I wrote a poem about last year).

So I did my best to recreate what I had done. If I could somehow recover what was lost, I’d be grateful for the draft-in-progress of the poem I have no other versions of saved, but I’m not sure whether I’d prefer my first or second revised version.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (starting with those linked from one of the “archive” installments, since the full archive is by now, at over two hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know, as part of my preparations for a collection, which poems you think are my best. You may also share it with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This is also archived on my wiki.

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3 thoughts on ““Merlin at the Battle”

    • Thank you, Maria; that’s gratifying to hear, since one of the reasons I had let the previous version molder in my archive for so long instead of posting it was that it felt merely static.

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