Shine Cycle Précis: Lighting Camelot

Lighting Camelot is the tentative title of the sixth planned novel in the “Alternate Universes” sub-series of the Shine Cycle, set in and around King Arthur’s legendary court of Camelot. Today’s post is a brief introduction to this planned work. Continue reading

“Taliesin before Guinevere”

The time has come for us to part,
My lady, and for me to go my way.
May the Master keep you near His heart
And bless the costs you pay.
My soul is troubled at the sight
Of what lies in your fate.
Seek ever for the truth and right
That the Lord may make you great.

The ten-hour candle flickers.
Its length is nearly spent.
The feast is coming to an end:
So rich a time was lent.
Bless me, Highness, ere I go;
An empire hangs within the scales.
The candle dims upon your face.
It before your beauty pales.

Taliesin stands before the royal seat,
His helm in his hands, his shoes off his feet.
Taliesin kneels, his head to the floor,
Then bows himself out of the high-barred door.

This is another old poem in my series surrounding the Matter of Britain, and yet another incompatible take on Taliesin’s last farewell to Camelot. Reading it again, I strongly suspect I’d been reading one of the two collections of poetry by Milne, since the meter is similar to one I remember him using in several favorite poems and is quite a departure from both the blank verse that I usually use nowadays and the “free verse” ignoring meter I often wrote in at the time.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you liked this poem, or you didn’t like it, or it made you think of something, or … please leave a comment to let me know.) 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 yesterday’s archive installment, since the full archive is by now, at well over a 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 this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also mirrored on my wiki.

“Blanchefleur Before Merlin”

My lord, you must have the wrong name, the wrong time.
I beg the Presence!
Llogres is established, Taliesin untrained
(For all he is to me the greatest bard
To ever string a harp or frame a verse);
I am nigh his equal. Why, then, should we wait
And go our separate ways within this court
Rather than let our love find its expression,
And bind ourselves together by that rite?

You have the view of time, you say,
For all that Taliesin is a seer.
But I have seen the words you shared with him;
I know that you would never seek his woe.
So I—protesting—will accept your will, if he agrees.

I beg the Presence! Let the Almighty’s dispensation
Include compassion, solace for my troubled soul.
For I must take up my vocation elsewhere,
Soon as my Queen release me, that we may not tempt fate.

This is quite early in the internal chronology of my series set in the Arthuriad, which I’ve coincidentally posted a lot of lately. The context is that Taliesin and Blanchefleur have fallen in love (as I begin to describe in this poem), but Merlin warns them that unless they postpone their union indefinitely disaster will befall both them and Llogres. In addition to being quite early in “series order,” I probably also originally wrote it quite early in the series, late in my high school career, but there’s no way for me to tell for sure. I revised it with all the rest when I overhauled the series (perhaps my sophomore year of college?), and made further revisions before posting it here.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you liked this poem, or you didn’t like it, or it made you think of something, or … please leave a comment to let me know.) 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 yesterday’s archive installment, since the full archive is by now, at well over a hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know which poems you think are my best. You may also share it with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also archived on my wiki.

“Taliesin in the Rose Garden”

My lady the queen, let nothing disturb you.
Your fate is as great as his,
Your destiny as high, and these troubles
Merely the pricking of rose thorns.
Beauty is not an easy path.

I look down upon the citadel of Camelot
From my place in the garden with Guinevere.
The wall is not in place, the people not in homes.
I see the knights’ banners on the breeze:
The dragon of Arthur the king, first and largest;
A fish for Percival the fair, swimming in the sky;
A golden lion for Lancelot the paragon of honor,
A swan for Bors the loving, and by some trick
A cross for the knight of Merlin’s Seat.
These I see above the unlaid foundations
And the half-high defenses of the city of Camelot
As I walk with the queen among the flowers.

My lady, I have seen another great destiny:
Not yours, but another as great.
One shall come, through a misguided devotion to you,
Who alone shall be worthy of the highest quest.

This is one of the earlier poems in my series set in the Arthuriad, both in when I wrote the first version of it (as I can tell from the structure—distinct sections alternating between narration and monologue were the most common structure in the series early on) and by internal chronology. I made some slight but thorough revisions when I overhauled the series several years ago, and then cleaned it up further before posting it today.

I always welcome your comments, critique, suggestions, or any other feedback on this poem or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you like it, if you don’t like it, if something “works”, if something “doesn’t work”, if it makes you think of something or someone, etc., please comment and say so!) If you like this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday; you can also read other poems I’ve written here on this blog (or if that list is too intimidating, I’m posting more manageable subsets each week, such as yesterday’s installment, so you can just start with those). I’d particularly like to know which poems you think are my best.

This poem is also mirrored on my wiki. If you like it, you are also encouraged to share it with others, subject to my sharing policy.

“Taliesin on the Occasion of his Knighthood”

I have achieved the shield. It is akin to poetry:
An image, clear in color, is framed by the art
Into useful form, for the strength of the realm.

I kneel before Arthur, my eyes on his,
As the flat of his sword stings my shoulder.
Blanchefleur—oh, beloved, do not weep—
And Guinevere the queen now bend
To buckle my shield on my arm.

The scars of my ordeal are fading;
Joy and pride now fill my spirit.
I set my lips to frame a verse,
Striving, by structure and my art,
To recall this moment forever.

This is another of my series of poems set in the Arthuriad. I have no idea where it falls in the internal chronology, but I first wrote its initial version fairly early in the series. Later, when I did a wholesale revision of most poems in the series, it was among them and got some fairly superficial changes, but I only substantially improved it quite recently. To give credit where credit is due, I probably got the idea of using the shield, rather than the sword, to represent knighthood from Tamora Pierce‘s fantasy series.

I always welcome your comments, critique, suggestions (perhaps of a real title for this poem?), or any other feedback on this poem or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you like it, if you don’t like it, if something “works”, if something “doesn’t work”, if it makes you think of something or someone, etc., please comment and say so!) If you like this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday; you can also read other poems I’ve written here on this blog (or if that list is too intimidating, I’m posting more manageable subsets each week, such as yesterday’s installment, so you can just start with those). I’d particularly like to know which poems you think are my best.

This poem is also mirrored on my wiki and . If you like it, you are also encouraged to share it with others, subject to my sharing policy.

“Taliesin at the Ball”

It’s my official function: framing verse,
But also to provide Lord Arthur’s court
With music for occasions such as these.
I am accompanied, of course; this court
Has such prestige that sound from one alone,
Were he even the legend of our time,
Would be an insult of the gravest kind.
I have my double harp, and raise my voice;
Beloved Blanchefleur shall play her lute;
Another brings a dulcimer to us,
And fourth, our fiddler now begins to tune.

This ball is held this day to celebrate
The birthday of a vassal (client king)
Whom Arthur justly favors, but I am
For these past weeks plunged into black despair,
Which only lifts when on my knees in prayer.
Each every other time this bleakness struck,
In music I found solace, peace, and joy—
Since music is my trade, and when well-done
It also then becomes a form of worship—
But music gives no solace to me now.
All holy joy is taken from my soul;
Not even my beloved, lingering near,
Can by her presence salve my troubled mind.

What’s worse, this celebration takes its place
Within a season of high joy and feasts;
As is too often the case, my state of mind
Now leads or lags behind the proper mode
By months—at least a season and a half.

Now, nothing can ruin a joyful ball
More quickly than a sad, sorrowful bard,
And my despair is writ upon my face
So only one half-dead could fail to see.
Therefore, my Blanchefleur takes me aside.
When I explain all this to her in brief,
She says, “I must speak more with you at length,
Taliesin, and in private.” I object:
“I, my lady, fear the doom, foretold,
Delay had turned aside—” She interrupts.
“Lord Taliesin, have you so little trust
In my obedience or self-control?
For while in fairest Llogres I remain
I am still under orders, and avowed
A celibate in body and in mind.”

My trust in the Lord, I manage the ball
Without my grief disturbing those who dance.
But, still, until this bleakness passes by,
No happiness shall pass beneath my pen:
No, I will write no more gladness or joy.
Laments I will create, songs of sadness,
Hymns of grief—For though the Lord is with me,
I have not his joy.

This is yet another poem in my series of poems set in the Arthuriad. It’s moderately late in both order of composition and internal chronology. And while it was originally quasi-free verse, I (tried to) regularize the meter into blank verse as part of a thorough revision in preparation for posting it today.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you liked this poem, or you didn’t like it, or it made you think of something, or … please leave a comment to let me know.) If you liked this, you can also read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (starting with yesterday’s archive installment, since the full archive is by now, at over a hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know which poems you think are my best.

This poem is also archived on my wiki.

“Taliesin’s Last Lament”

O, beloved: O, best loved Blanchefleur!
Now I lay me down upon the green earth
Of my own land, which I held best of all—
Till now, when ’tis the worst to me, for now
Upon my rising I’ll not see the face
And smile of my beloved Blanchefleur.
Nor shall I till the years have passed us by!
What purpose has the Lord to keep me here,
And she still there, yet separate and distinct
When we feel nearly one—in spirit, soul,
If not yet in our, frailer, mortal flesh?

This is another—internal-chronologically, possibly the last—poem in my series of poems set in the Arthurian legends (see that link for a slightly more detailed explanation). The speaker is in fact relinquishing the name—the identity—of Taliesin, according to the story which shall be told in my planned novel Sunshine Civil War. In order of composition (“Doylist” chronology), this is one of the later poems in the series, but was written several years ago, and I have no way of dating it any more precisely than that.

I always welcome your comments, critique, suggestions, or any other feedback on this poem or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you like it, if you don’t like it, if something “works”, if something “doesn’t work”, if it makes you think of something or someone, etc., please comment and say so!) If you like this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday; you can also read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (or if that list is too intimidating, I’m posting more manageable subsets each week, such as yesterday’s archive installment, so you can just start with those). I’d particularly like to know which poems you think are my best.

This poem is also mirrored on my wiki.