Stalwart

Minstrel's Song

Poets from different eras and corners of the globe have written verses fitting for Cyan, conveying his beliefs and inner struggles.

Gentilesse
Geoffrey Chaucer

The firste fader and findere of gentilesse,
What man desireth gentil for to be
Most folwe his traas, and alle his wittes dresse
Vertu to sue, and vices for to flee:
For unto vertu longeth dignitee,
And nought the revers, saufly dar I deeme,
Al were he mitre, crowne, or diademe.

This firste stok was ground of rightwisnesse,
Trewe of his word, sobre, pietous, and free,
Clene of his gost, and loved bisinesse

Against the vice of slouthe, in honestee;
And but his heir love vertu as dide he,
He is nat gentil, though he riche seeme,
Al were he mitre, crowne, or diademe.

Vice may wel be heir to old richesse,
But ther may no man, as ye may wel see,
Bequethe his heir his vertuous noblesse:

That is appropred unto no degree
But to the firste fader in majestee,
That maketh his heir him that wol him queme,
Al were he mitre, crowne, or diademe.

This page wouldn't be complete without Chaucer. This 14th century Londoner has always been the touchstone of medieval romance. Here he speaks of the trial of living up to one's noble legacy, which Cyan suddenly finds difficult after his kingdom is destroyed.


Haiku
Matsuo Basho

Leaning upon staves
and white-haired - a whole family
visiting the graves

A lightning gleam:
into darkness travels
a night heron's scream

Summer grass:
of stalwart warriors' splendid dream
the aftermath

On a journey, ill,
and over fields all withered, dreams
go wandering still

Striving for balance in all things, here's one of Japan's greatest poets, who fully developed the haiku in the 17th century. Born into a lower samurai family, he became a wanderer and sought to emphasize the importance of the seemingly insignificant in nature.


Insomnia
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Thin are the night-skirts left behind
By daybreak hours that onward creep,
And thin, alas! the shred of sleep
That wavers with the spirit's wind:
But in half-dreams that shift and roll
And still remember and forget,
My soul this hour has drawn your soul
A little nearer yet.

Our lives, most dear, are never near,
Our thoughts are never far apart,
Though all that draws us heart to heart
Seems fainter now and now more clear.
To-night Love claims his full control,
And with desire and with regret
My soul this hour has drawn your soul
A little nearer yet.

Is there a home where heavy earth
Melts to bright air that breathes no pain,
Where water leaves no thirst again
And springing fire is Love's new birth?
If faith long bound to one true goal
May there at length its hope beget,
My soul that hour shall draw your soul
For ever nearer yet.

These are thoughts Cyan might have upon meeting Elayne and Owain on the Ghost Train, particularly the second stanza. Rossetti was greatly inspired by medieval romance poetry, and wrote this in 1881. He also suffered from insomnia throughout life.


The Two Trees
William Bulter Yeats

Beloved, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start,
And all the trembling flowers they bear.
The changing colours of its fruit
Have dowered the stars with metry light;
The surety of its hidden root

Has planted quiet in the night;
The shaking of its leafy head
Has given the waves their melody,
And made my lips and music wed,
Murmuring a wizard song for thee.
There the Joves a circle go,
The flaming circle of our days,
Gyring, spiring to and fro
In those great ignorant leafy ways;
Remembering all that shaken hair
And how the winged sandals dart,
Thine eyes grow full of tender care:

Beloved, gaze in thine own heart.
Gaze no more in the bitter glass
The demons, with their subtle guile.
Lift up before us when they pass,
Or only gaze a little while;
For there a fatal image grows
That the stormy night receives,
Roots half hidden under snows,
Broken boughs and blackened leaves.
For ill things turn to barrenness
In the dim glass the demons hold,
The glass of outer weariness,
Made when God slept in times of old.
There, through the broken branches, go
The ravens of unresting thought;
Flying, crying, to and fro,
Cruel claw and hungry throat,
Or else they stand and sniff the wind,
And shake their ragged wings; alas!
Thy tender eyes grow all unkind:
Gaze no more in the bitter glass.

I'm sure Yeats didn't have a literal demon like Wrexsoul in mind, but this poem is perfect for Cyan. He must battle his own cynicism and despair - by turning to his heart. A musical adaptation of the poem is heard on Loreena McKennitt's 1994 album The Mask and Mirror.