Towards the Dawn:


Albeit drab this beggar clothed,

For flocks he must feign caring.

Once he was a paladin bold,

Now filthy rags he's wearing.


Was duty bound by vow and grace,

Still he donned this garb with rue.

False jester's ruse did he embrace,

Thus to fade from this world's view.


Upon this haunted heath to hide,

Himself and his horse and sword.

On downs amongst the ancient tombs,

Awaits his suzerain lord.


Far and long from his love and land,

With ghouls and spirits hiding.

He yearns to fetch the cobbled strand,

King's ship at anchor riding.


Now snow upon the barrow's gone,

'Mid grave mounds where he bided.

Of the king's ship there is word,

Sail and hull have been sighted.


The king's own banner from the mast,

O'er violent seas set flying.

Running down afore the blast,

Gales in the rigging, sighing.


Southward bound 'neath the sheer cliff's brow,

Through green seas, she tossed and dove.

If strake and keel hold firm she'll fetch,

The fey hidden, trysting cove.


Fierce vernal gale, with cold shrill blast,

Raced o'er heath, stone ridge and brae.

On barrow's height he stood his watch,

At the gloaming of this day.


Finally thus the signal sent,

O'er yon ridge three banners stream.

So long did wait was almost spent,

Stood there dazed as if in dream.


Though cold gust roused him to the call,

And he prepared for night's long ride.

Now that darkness soon would fall,

Mark the turning of the tide.


Against the red and sinking sun,

He doffed the jester's sham.

With haste flew down the greening slope,

For sword and shield he ran.


Within the ring of standing stones,

Were his horse, saddle and tack.

His hand again his broadsword owns,

And slings shield upon his back.


With haste he mounts his Frisian steed,

Standing in the stirrups high,

Wind sweeping past his helmless head,

Until king and thanes draw nigh.


Iron shod hooves with power bound,

'Neath a field of blazing stars,

So swift across the shieling pound

As to mark the sod with scars.


Dull sheep all from their slumber roused,

Who scatter then, fleet and spry.

Spied by just the wan moon's crescent

And the owl's hunting eye.


And even with the dawn rising,

And salt scent upon the gale,

He presses still his failing mount.

'Til in sight of the ship's furled sail.


Only then might come to canter,

And still ease once more to trot,

To halt and full obeisance make,

To cast, with king and thane, his lot.


Full ready to shun any crown,

Be it leaves, silver or gold,

Nor vie for seat at the king's right hand.

Bought not, would honor be, nor sold.


But when he o'er the last crest rose,

He did view along the strand,

Foes attacking the king and thanes.

So charged down his sword in hand.


With awful might he joined the fray,

Gave his brothers heart anew.

Well fought, he gave his king the day,

Though his comrades' deaths did rue.


The king's great need for him was plain,

He to northern realms would go,

And together challenge with force,

Scattered legions of the foe.


He grasped the task with all his heart,

Though knew it might speak his death,

He'd risk it all, would halt for naught,

Nor yield, while he still drew breath.