Poetic Inspiration: Other People's Poems
I love reading poetry. Not only does reading poetry expands my poetic horizons, butI constantly find inspiration in other’s work. Sometimes the subject touches a chord, sometimes I want to try out a particular poetic device, and sometimes — well — it awakens my playful side.
A couple of weeks ago, Robert Lee Brewer posted a “magic” prompt on his blog,
and Mark Windham wrote a rip-roaring yarn involving a dragon and a brave hero.
I read Mark’s poem. After bopping myself over the head for having overlooked such a delightful subject, I wrote a poem of my own.
Here they are: first Mark’s poem and then my own.
(so far untitled)
Damn, but dragon hide is sturdy stuff,
My lance broken, horse dead or run off.
My shield was busted by a swipe of tail,
Helmet went flying and left arm broken.
Our foolishly brave troop is down to me plus three.
All hiding and rethinking our chivalrous vows.
Two have died from swipes of massive claws,
Three roasted in fiery breath, one ingested I fear.
Sitting here with my back against this boulder,
Wondering how in the hell to get out of this mess,
Pledging that the monastery will be my destination;
Damsels can stay in distress, the dragon keep his gold.
What’s this? A newcomer to our futility. Oh Joy!
Much help, I am sure, this old man trudging up the hill;
Stooped against the slope, leaning mightily on his staff,
Clothed in oversized robes and wide brimmed hat.
Halfway up the hill, just below my hiding place,
He is greeted by the dragon’s challenging roar.
Stopping, as if mildly distracted by a butterfly,
He looks from under his hat and strokes his beard.
I hear the now familiar mighty beating of dragon wings,
The old man seems unperturbed, as if studying the event.
Another roar accompanies feeling the heat of belched fire;
Much like seeing the executioners axe, I cannot look away.
Suddenly straightening with unexpected speed and strength,
He thrust his staff forward as the fire engulfs him….
What?! I saw it but do not believe! The dragon’s fire parted,
Passed him by on sides and above; not a singed hair in his beard.
There is a new tone now to the dragon’s cry; rage maybe? Fear?
The sorcerer takes a step forward, staff held high in right hand,
Steely eyed he begins raising the left as he starts chanting,
A white, glowing globe begins to form in his upheld hand.
Continuing his mumbling as he slowly takes two more steps,
Coming even with my spot as the globe grows and swirls.
Beating wings are deafening now as he thrust left hand forward,
Launching his magic at his monstrous, unsuspecting foe.
A brilliant, blinding explosion of light and a piecing scream….
I awake to his gentle hand on my arm; ‘Is it over? Is it dead?’
He smiles and shakes his head. ‘No, one does not kill a dragon.
You just have to convince it that it is time for it to move on.’
He stands and takes up his staff, a helpless old man once more,
And makes his way down the hill, carefully avoiding the rocks.
My remaining companions gather round and watch him go,
All somewhat surprised that he left us the damsel and the gold.
And here’s my response. I decided to make it as unlike Mark’s poem as I could manage.
A Tale of a Poor Knight and an Old Horse
by Margaret Fieland
A man rode out one two-moon night
to win a magic sword.
He rode a horse consumed by blight.
Twas all he could afford.
His clothing, all was soiled and worn
and filled with many holes.
The folks he passed heaped him with scorn
and pelted him with rolls.
His horse was soon quite out of breath
It stopped beneath a tree.
It said, “I feel quite near to death.
Please, master, set me free.”
The man then heaved humongous sighs
and shook a shaggy head.
He felt a measure of surprise
to see his horse had fled.
“Alas,” he said, “it’s much too late
for me to set you free.
I’m much too tired, at any rate,
to dig beneath this tree.”
And so our knight meandered home,
and still without a sword
“because”, he said, “it’s hard to roam
with what I can afford.”
Oh, yes, and a note on the importance of feedback. The initial version of this poem, the one on Robert Brewer’s blog, had the horse “fall dead” at the end of stanza three, but my fellow muselings felt sorry for the horse, and I agreed. Hence now we can all picture him enjoying the grass in some sunny pasture far from poverty stricken knights.
Do check out Mark’s blog:
and let us know what you think of the poems, and if you’re inspired to write one of your own.