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Enedentian Epic: Canto I

Far in the outlands, long ago,
where valleys sunk and mountains rose,
when gurgling streams from highlands run
and fishes in the ocean swam,
when grass was green and tree took root, 5
and beasts would eat the flesh of fruit;
beneath the silver shimmering lights
that danced on cold and snowy heights,
through distant fields, through open glades
from watery vales to gloomy shades 10
the world was fair, the world was young,
'ere strife was made, or wrong was done.
The world was young, the world was fair,
from open haunt to secret lair.

There once had lived three mighty kings 15
along the coasts where merkins sing
and sweeping sea gulls roam the sky
above the tow'rs, where banners fly.
The fields about their feet were green
as all the world that could be seen 20
from high atop that ancient mound
where Hancel's citadel is found.
And 'neath the sacred fortress hill
are delved those ancient caverns still.
Where hammer falls, where flame is lit, 25
there magnificent treasure sits.
Where flame is lit, where hammer falls
beneath the timeless, stony halls.

The wind-washed faces of the shore
are legendary in fairy lore; 30
the jewel speckled banners stand
amongst the mountains of the land.
The fame of their enchanting horde
was carried by the winds abroad
for though the world was young and fair 35
with vacant groves and empty lairs,
lay wild, ungoverned, stateless lands
beyond the thought of royal hands
great kingdoms spread at the behest
of mighty lords that ruled the west. 40
At their behest, great kingdoms spread
where even fairies fear to tread.

The knowledge of the ancient hoard;
the golden gauntlets, silver swords,
the crimson crown and speckled spear 45
and pitchers made from crystals clear
the long forgotten purple robe
all riches of a king's abode
like fire run into the west
beyond the gulf like foaming crests 50
and to the grave and ruthless east
where mount is drear and fierce is beast.
Then strange things stirred in distant hearts
that lay in disregarded parts.
In distant hearts desires stirred 55
at these queer tidings that they heard.

So long they dwelt, the mighty three
and long were their dominions free
the eastern Enedentian realms
ruled under three coeval helms; 60
The silver scepter of the south
where Lilion's waters spread her mouth
and northern hills are humbled low
into the plain; where far below
an inland water, saltless mere 65
reflects a most enchanting glare.
By this lake stands the Silver crown,
that courage drains and wishes drown.
The Silver crown by this lake stands,
commander of the southern lands. 70

High in the hilly northern realm
much blessed with beauty overwhelm
the stoutest hearts, the mind confounds,
where spring-like purity abounds
and whitestone minarets stand tall 75
above the stony, ageless halls.
The freshness of Lilion's source
along her boisterous, youthful course
dance with the feet of aging hills
with deep and wise perennial wills. 80
There can be seen the towers high
that form a crown against the sky.
From towers high, there can be seen
the Golden crown by watchers keen.

Between the north and southmost realms 85
under the guidance of the helm
of him who holds the golden name;
the first of peers, of ruinous fame
upon a lonely, peerless knoll
sits proud, the first, most glorious hall 90
with greystone walls and towers high
on which his solemn banners fly.
Most unadorned, the iron throne
is stark as bone, is cold as stone.
The Iron helm, the sullen king 100
whose stone is smote, whose hammers ring
The sullen king, the iron helm
The seat of Hancel's treasured realm.

Upon that hill, Amenophel
was Hancel's mighty citadel 105
and deep within the hollow mound
are hidden caverns vaulted round
and flowing with his sacred hoard
protected by the faithful sword
that rules the Enedentian vale; 110
the storied blade of song and tale.
And mighty is the hand that wields
the weapon o'er the glorious fields.
But in the east and in the west
the tidings grow, and nothing rests, 115
and from the west and from the east
are moving hearts of being and beast.

'Twas on a night of calm and kind
when limbs were limp and dull was mind.
The silver light of distant stars 120
shone in a glimmer from afar.
The fields were empty, labour done,
the watches quiet, wind was gone,
and all, as from enchantment deep
hung in some altered shape of sleep. 125
The river Lilion's laughing jest
was stilled as though she were at rest.
But in the east, and from the north
that silver glimmer issued forth.
But from the north, and from the east 130
crept forth a most fantastic beast.

How grave, the Enedentian night
before a yet untested might
for in the while, since days of yore,
when Hancel's fathers made the shore 135
the greatest evil that befell
the fledgling kingdom was from hell.
From deepest pits beneath the fold
in stories that the father's told
a mighty worm, a wondrous blight 140
that slew with unrelenting might.
'Twas bred, they said, in distant parts
by malice pure and evil arts.
In distant parts, 'tis said, was bred
and death it sowed, on fear it fed. 145

A mighty serpent, poisonous tongue
brought ruin when the realm was young
and left despairing in his wake
a cruel thing, a wicked snake.
The villages his wrath consumed 150
he belched forth foul tormenting fumes
and with his tongue he would enthral
the steadfast of that ancient hall.
No name had he, a curse he wore,
his malice spread from hill to shore. 155
Stench of decay, the face of woe,
yet Hancel swore to end his foe.
The face of woe, stench of decay,
who grew in his perilous way.

So Hancel, stoutest of his kin 160
long pondered how to bring within
the shadow of Amenophel
the dreadful snake, the worm of hell.
He set about a secret rite
to sacrifice under the light 165
of brilliant An Melorion
around the source of Lilion
the limbs of those who fell before
in keeping with ancestral lore.
The rite was done with gruesome skill, 170
the mighty foe to lure and kill.
With gruesome skill the rite was done,
and there he sat till all were gone.

No sooner did the last folk leave
was quiet broken by a heave, 175
and with a dread, enthralling hiss
the snake would now his foe dismiss,
yet Hancel could not hear the sigh,
but in the shadows leapt he high.
It was a sign to volley shafts 180
enhanced with Enedentian craft
but no one volleyed to his aid,
for most had fled, confused, dismayed.
So Hancel stood upon the foe,
his eyes looked on the face of woe. 185
Upon the foe did Hancel stand,
the lone defender of the land.

The dreadful battle waged was long,
and is recorded much in song.
Great thunder clapped and with a flood 190
was Hancel drenched in rains of blood
Yet on he fought with blade and shield,
to save his life, to win the field.
And with a mighty blow he threw
He won the day, his foe he slew 195
The mighty son of Vindumane
was now declared the serpent's bane.
With mighty hand he broke the spell
where Hancel's serpent's carcass fell.
He broke the spell with mighty hand, 200
and with his blade he won the land.

But when his unrepentant folk
from their enchanted slumber woke
and gathered they around the site
where Hancel felled the slithering blight 205
he stood above the mighty snake
and these same dreadful words he spake
"I called for aid, and came it not;
I call for none to claim my lot.
With these same hands your foe I slew, 210
and from his riven bosom drew.
With arm and sword I claim this win
of all the treasure found within.
I claimed this win with arm and sword,
the right to hold the serpent's hoard." 215

And so was won that famous hoard
by Hancel's arm, with Hancel's sword,
and still it lies in caverns deep
beneath the mighty greystone keep
upon the bare and stony hill. 220
In those wide caverns, hanging still
the skull of that same serpent stares
with hollowed eyes sinister glares
with gaping mouth and reaching fangs
and pit whence issued once his tongue. 225
Foreboding ghost, a demon's face
completes the ghastly, haunted place.
The demon's face, foreboding ghost,
and shrine of Enedentian boast.

Style / type: 
Structured: Western
Review Request (Intensity): 
I want the raw truth, feel free to knock me on my back
Review Request (Direction): 
How was my language use?
What did you think of the rhythm or pattern or pacing?
Is the internal logic consistent?
Last few words: 
This was started just this morning. I've not had time to go through it thoroughly, but I'm excited so I put it up. It is from a story I've been working on for a very long time now. If you read my earlier "Tale of blessed Kings", much of this legend spans that tale. I divided the verses into fourteen lines each, with the thirteenth being a slight inversion of the eleventh. I hope it is well liked and critiqued.
Editing stage: 


this seems very competent and finished considering you just wrote it
3rd last line of S2 ' there magnificent ' made me stumble interrupts the rhythm although the meter's fine.
S12 L5-8 are very short, obviously there's a way to say this with enough drama to carry it off but for me
L8 'around...' I found didn't work as if the demands of the meter had caught up with me.
I would provide some notes re the characters, etc. not having a dictionary handy Enedentian etc meant nothing to me and made the poem more remote.
Historical poems are not my favourite but this would thrill those who are into the genre.
kind regards

I've noted what you've pointed out, and will work to iron out the meter. This is just the first canto of the now much larger piece I'm writing. On the last point you noted, this is not a factual historical poem. It forms part of a much much larger narrative I've been working on for a couple of years now.

I just selected this bit of the tale to work on as a poem, and it seems to have taken off to a good start. I'll post the other complete canto soon.

Thanks so much for reading this.

No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job. - TS Eliot

author comment

i enjoyed reading this, i especially enjoyed the coinage

a few things caught my eye
‘and fishes in the ocean swam,
when grass was green and fish took root’
the use of ‘fish’ so close threw me a little

'ere strife was made, or done was wrong.
just imo would read better as
'ere strife was made, or wrong was done. – it still is a great internal and near end rhyme to my ear, and is better grammar

and although you have used a lot of mixed verse, it transitions well in the most part
but I felt the scansion is out (to my ear at least) at
‘great kingdoms spread at the behest’
‘like fire run into the west’
There can be seen the towers high’
‘under the guidance of the helm’
‘brought ruin when the realm was young’
‘to sacrifice under the light’
‘but no one fired to his aid’

I really like what you have done in the last four verses of each stanza - repeating the thought in a different word order…

one typo
‘and with his tongue he would enthrall’ - enthral

great story, really well written, with excellent descriptive - i was totally carried along with it
love judy

'Each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
shall draw the Thing as he sees It, for the God of Things as They are.'
(Rudyard Kipling)

Thanks for your kind, encouraging word Judy. This has been one of my goals in poetry, and knowing that you think well of it give me the courage to go on.

I took your suggestions, and have changed those that I can for now. You've been of great help.

Also, it's rather sad that I couldn't participate fully in your workshop. I've been following the discussion though, and it's enlightening.

Thanks for reading.

No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job. - TS Eliot

author comment

i don't expect everyone to submit every week - drop in and out when you can – and feel free do any of the exercises that interest you - not necessarily the current one… the workshop will run indefinitely

but do try to keep up with the forms and other poets who are submitting writes to the shop
love judy

'Each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
shall draw the Thing as he sees It, for the God of Things as They are.'
(Rudyard Kipling)

I am late here and will be later. Please forgive me. I spent a fair time with Ian's work and would like to spend equal with Judyann's, but I will be here post haste. I think you know I enjoy your storytelling style and want to be involved.

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program

Thanks for dropping in. By the time you come, the tale will be even longer than it is now.

Waiting for your input, Wesley!

No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job. - TS Eliot

author comment

This is not the same poet I read when he first arrived. The depth of change in such a short time bodes extremely well for this guy's future.

Here's what I think for now...

"A king there was in days of old:
ere Men yet walked upon the mould
his power was reared in caverns' shade,
his hand was over glen and glade.
Of leaves his crown, his mantle green, (5)
his silver lances long and keen;
the starlight in his shield was caught,
ere moon was made or sun was wrought."

You know this as well as I.
It is, by itself, perhaps my favorite snippet of poetry. Period. However, understand that it is not the poetry that stirs, it is the language wrapping the concept. Reading it "feels" like romance.
I will never be able to produce this sense of adventure in anything I write. It is simply not in me. I will compensate for this lack with story. This is a thing I believe I'm eminently capable of doing... so no pity please... I'm a better storyteller than you will ever be, but YOU a better poet.
What I feel in Tolkien, I feel far more than just the beginnings of in this. Your other poem was delightful (and I will likely keep the cute thing forever), but this is romance. Real romance.
Whatever type of writing you may be doing other than this... stop. If you can do "Enedentian", then you waste our time working on something else.
I'm quite serious about this. The piece needs work, but spending time on another when you can produce something of this nature is akin to the time Tolkien spent on "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" or "The Elder Edda". They are marvelous, but it meant he didn't finish "Narn I Chin Hurin". You may think I'm going over the top a little here, but I have read a lot (read- A LOT) of epoppee and this is the ground floor of something extraordinary.
Some details now.
Judy was correct when she discussed your repetitions and their inversions. Not only are they classical in nature, but they carry well that "feel" of over the top romantic adventure. Don't shy away from them.

Here is small encouragement to continue in the same vein- the place names and personal pronouns are much improved. Alien and yet beautiful to the ear. Some of your earlier were a bit too "comic book".

Remember that "Hell" is a place (particularly in OUR stories), so as you capitalize England so also "Hell".

There are sporadic problems with the meter (as Judy pointed out) and you need to ALWAYS AND FOREVER be on the look out for sites you can improve, but... don't go crazy. For the most part only the most egregious cause trouble. The lightweight fluctuation of meter throughout is comfortable. Go with your instincts and don't feel you have to tow a tight line. The "feel" this poet has for this type of poetry is uncommonly good... follow where he leads.

Don't be afraid of contractions. E.g. "pois'nous". This would ease the meter where used and this is a form of poetry that not only allows it, but welcomes it. Don't go nuts (instinct... trust), but be willing to use them more.
Which brings me to another mechanical problem. It's time you numbered this thing. Personally I think it gives a poem a real "poetic" look, but that's not why I suggest it over many others' complaints. If we are to help you (and I'm dying to) we need a point of reference.
Number it.
A line that doesn't have a number I think would read better if- "a cruel Wyvern (medieval term for Dragon), a wicked snake". I'd tell you where it was, but I don't know. Get it?
Another- "yet Hancel swore to 'lay it low' ".
And last time- "So Hancel stood 'before' the foe".
Number it.
That's all the damage I can do now. You had best be prepared... I'm liable to drive you mad over this.
It is far better than you think.
See you in part two.

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program

This is all a lot to take in Wesley, but thanks a lot for the encouragement. However, there are some things that have gone on in the other cantos that I'm not proud of. Most obvious is I've done away with the repetition in the last four lines of each verse. Somehow I just could not keep up with it.

If it will pose a great problem, then a lot of rewriting is in order, but as you say: revise endlessly.

Also, as the poem wears on, I get the feeling that I'm using certain words and phrases too often. I've already begun to address this issue, and will do so where I can.

I plan on spending a lot of time on this. Were it not for your very big poem (which has served as inspiration) and your relentless pestering over quality of verse, I doubt I would've been able to pull this one off.

And on your numbering of lines, it will be tedious, but that should give me the time to revise certain portions I'm not so proud of. Also, it's one of the things I wish neopoet had: an option to display line numbers.

Thanks for your help so far: this right here is my life's work, what I've been hoping to do for a very long time.

No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job. - TS Eliot

author comment

... for poetry that helped me add numbers. Alas, they don't seem to exist. If you find one, tell me.
As for the repeating lines, no one said it had to happen every four or twelfth or one hundred lines. Use them for effect when the circumstance calls for it. They work very well and don't have to be consistent.
To the use of phrases repetitively... this is a monster poem. You are going to be trapped into repeating rhyme and phrase. The trick is to spread them wide enough to lessen the effect of repetition.
Good luck numbering. It's a pain.

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program

I just might write one! A programmer ought to know what to do when need calls.

I'm done numbering the lines on all three published cantos.

No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job. - TS Eliot

author comment

This write is a beaut it tells a story without faltering, encompassing a world that not only has your eyes seen but your soul.
Loved it, Yours Ian.T

There are a million reasons to believe in yourself,
So find more reasons to believe in others..

for your kind words Ian. Your reading this long poem means a lot to me.

No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job. - TS Eliot

author comment
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