Out of the blackened wood he rode
into a dark grey dawn,
and thunder chased him with the wolves
over the barren lawn.
Up to the manor walls he flew,
as lightning licked his heels;
pursued by howls and thunderclaps
and the clash of distant steel.
With a splinter and crash the doors fell in,
kicked by his stallion's hooves,
and on he rode up the marble stairs,
without a look to the wolves.
The name he yelled from room to room
was drowned in the thunder’s cry,
and the savage howls of the wolves below
returned as his sole reply.
Out the window and growing near
fire raced down the road;
torches bright in the clouded light,
like gold from a demon's lode.
He leapt from his horse
to find her door, black as the night is dark.
He broke the lock with a pistol shot,
and hounds began to bark.
His sword was out, his blade was bright
with a light that filled the gloom;
His shoulder struck the blackened door;
her cry answered back from the room.
The door stood fast 'gainst all his blows,
held tight by a sorcerous spell,
and all his rage burned futilely bright
like an angel chained in Hell.
In the halls below arose the cries
of wolves and dogs and men,
of teeth and claws and musket blasts,
of death and battle's din.
Up the stairs the clatter came;
the clamor roared down the hall.
He turned away from the cries behind
as the blades began to fall.
His body lay outside the door;
The spell that held it fled.
She stepped in the glow of the morning light—
"You're rescued , lass," they said.
©2008 by Howard Shirley. All rights reserved.
In case you're wondering, it's National Poetry Month. In honor of this, I thought I might offer a little something original for your enjoyment, hence the above, which has been languishing on my hard drive in various forms for several years. My goal in writing this was to capture the adventure poems I loved as a boy, which unfortunately I see very little of today. I also wanted to create a story poem that the reader could "fill in" as it were. Who is rescuing whom— and from what? Is the ending fortunate or tragic? You tell me what you see!
--- Howard Shirley