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Enedentian Epic: Canto II

The night was clear, the stars shone fierce,
and starlight through the foliage pierced.
The fields were open, vacant glades
of stagnant air and bending blades.
The rivers quiet, waters still 5
beside the foot of aging hill.
The banners limp in standing air
and towers gleaming proud and fair.
The clouds were gone, the sky was clear,
yet closer crept a shadow drear. 10
With each rank breath it slithered on,
toward the banks of Lilion.
It slithered on with each rank breath:
the malevolent face of death.

The watchers on Amenophel, 15
defenders of the citadel,
caught sight of his reflecting train
as it descended like a stain
despoiling all the fertile green
as far as eye has ever seen. 20
And shimm'ring in the silver hue
reflected many shades of blue
like shards of lightening spitting forth
deep in the valleys of the north.
The deathly pale, encroaching shades 25
slip through the north from hidden glades.
Encroaching shape, the deathly pale
of woe meanders through the vale.

It seeming clad in mail of chain,
a sea of blades is in his train. 30
Across his side are many shields
that shiver as he takes the fields.
Nowhere is seen his hideous skin,
the mark of his accursed kin.
About him sound faint battle horns 35
challenging all to strife forlorn.
About his brow, a diadem
of beaten steel and stolen gem.
The wind was still, the river slept
and closer still the great worm crept, 40
When river slept, when wind was still
A mighty worm fell on the hill.

Aghast, the watchers fled their posts,
before the worm and countless host.
And loud, the battle trumpets sound. 45
A mighty clamour shakes the ground.
The marching of ten thousand feet
that swore no yielding, nor retreat;
the fearless knights of Aramon
with weapons armed and armour worn 50
assume their stations 'neath the brand
Of Enedentia's troubled land.
The drums are loud, the host is near,
A mist engulfs, commanding fear.
The host is near, the drums are loud 55
The hill beleaguered by a shroud.

So goes the Enedentian song:
the fight was fierce, the battle long,
and storied were the deeds there wrought,
upon that evil thing which sought 60
dominion of the blessed three
and all the lands that still were free.
Yet great was the calamity
brought by the dread monstrosity.
For though he could not vanquish all, 65
he slew their folk and smote their hall.
He broke the mighty treasure mound
corrupting consecrated ground.
The mighty treasure mound he broke,
and filled with black, unholy smoke. 70

The King of Hancel's citadel;
The master of Amenophel,
custodian of the sacred hoard
and peerless crown, the Iron Lord,
on that same day his irons wore, 75
a spear he clasped, a shield he bore
and on his brow the famous helm
that marked the reunited realm
rose high above the violent throng.
His cries were fell, his arm was strong, 80
His shield was red, his spear was bent
Amenophel's might was spent.
His spear was bent, his shield was red,
The Lord of Amenophel bled.

He rode like those great kings of yore 85
and faithful to the oath he swore.
In battle was the valiant lord
the steward of the ancient hoard.
And while on broken heel he fought
the greatest deeds by him were wrought, 90
one hundred slain with blade in hand,
unwilling to concede the land.
Yet grew he faint with weariness,
he paid the price of faithfulness.
And so he cried, and with a sigh 95
of anguish looked to heaven's eye.
He heaved a sigh, and loud he cried;
he breathed his last, and thus he died.

The Iron crown that ruled the land
was wounded by a treacherous hand. 100
By silver blade with golden hilt
had some unfaithful servant spilt
the royal blood of mighty Lords
that sat upon the ancient hoard.
That is the manner of the tale 105
as it is told about the vale,
of that grave Enedentian night,
as fallen was their peerless might.
Yet in the north and southern plain
had not reached tidings of the slain? 110
From southern plain, from hilly north,
did not some succour issue forth?

The pits beneath the greystone walls
that held the once unbroken hall
were filled with black, confounding fumes 115
and raging flames that soon consumed
the knights who held the treasure deep
neath the foundations of the keep.
Those saintly folk defiantly
held long the treasure valiantly. 120
But then that dreadful creature broke
their hold, and then before them spoke
in dreadful strains these very words
"I come not for your crowns and swords,
Nor treasure of Lord Hancel's bane 125
But for the cup of Vindumane".

And with those words, those dreadful strains
The valiant knights were cruelly slain,
then with the remnant of his host
he took the cup and made his boast, 130
by swallowing the fabled trove.
He slithered out, and went above
the mound, where now the battle wore.
Defeated by the host that swore
against defeat, away they fled, 135
returning to the east they sped.
The streams were still, the night was clear,
and gone was shadow, faint was fear.
The night was clear, the rivers still
They reeked with death, and red was hill. 140

So comes to us the tragic tale
of what befell then in the vale.
A bloody mire with bodies strewn,
where blade was bent and limb was hewn
and lifeless torsos danced and twitched 145
as though by evil arts bewitched.
And somewhere on that bloodied plain
amongst the bodies of the slain
the master of Amenophel
was glorious where he fought and fell. 150
A mighty lord, a valiant king
whose deeds that minstrels rightly sing.
A valiant king, a mighty lord,
Defender of the looted hoard.

But of the north and of the south, 155
but of the folk of Lilion's mouth
what do we tell, what do we say?
Not seven hands did they essay,
No succour lent, no little aid.
Amenophel by blood betrayed. 160
What of the blade with golden haft,
the symbol of the northern craft?
What of the slender silver blade
that was from southern smithies made?
By treacherous arts, to their avail 165
they lost the battle of the vale,
yet took the prize, by treacherous arts,
and slew their king with murderous hearts.

And so the disenchanted realm
without the mighty Iron helm 170
could not maintain the brotherhood
that had been bound by royal blood.
Then out rode knights with shield and lance
on horses set to warring prance
across the tortured battle plain 175
to track the mighty serpent's train.
Then out rode lords with brand and sword
to claim the Enedentian hoard.
With haste they sped, pursued their lust,
yet eyed each other in mistrust. 180
Spurred on by lustful haste, they sped
along the paths the foe had fled.

That was the fate of Hancel's hoard
whose fame the winds had spread abroad
from ruthless east to distant west 185
in sandy storms and foaming crests.
Yet while that evil slinking foe,
the shade of death and face of woe
returned to his unwholesome lair
still something trembled in the air. 190
Far in the glorious, mighty west
rode out great knights at the behest
of him most ancient of all lords
that ever trod with mace and sword.
The peerless lord, the ancient hand, 195
the mighty king of Fairyland.

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?
Last few words: 
This is the second, completed canto of the long poem. As at now, I'm working on the third. Again, this has only been lightly revised, so there's still a lot of work to be done. A bit on the story: the latter part of the first canto was a flashback to an earlier event that is being paralleled here. This canto returns to the "present day" situation of the story. I make large jumps in the history so I can keep the writing exciting to myself. I hope its not such a bad idea. Your critique is needed. Thank you.
Editing stage: 


well written imo
great storyline and great meter

a few little things
‘with hollows eyes, sinister glares’ - ‘hollow’ or ‘hollowed’?
‘With each rank breath it slithered on’ - I love how this line makes me use my tongue
and ‘It slithered on with each rank breath’ - ditto lol

‘ the malevolent face of death’ – great line – trips off the tongue

I tripped in the rhythm in a couple of places, you might want to relook at (just imo)
‘and pit where once issued his tongue’
‘neath the foundations of the keep’
‘and lifeless torsos danced and twitched’
‘as though by some dark art bewitched’

‘by swallowing the fabled trove.
He slithered out, and went above’ – doesn’t rhyme –‘ trove’ is pronounced as in ‘stove’, ‘drove’, etc

looking forward to the story of ‘the mighty king of Fairyland’
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'll address the last issue. I had a little trouble with that couplet, but in the end I made a compromise and stuck with "trove/above". They do not have a similar sound, but here, I stuck with them because of the similarity of the visual similarity (trOVE/abOVE).

I read about sight (or is it visual) rhyme once, and I've seen it in a couple of places. With a poem this long, I felt I could take the chance just a few times. If I remember rightly, I have one or two couplets with a similar compromise. Personally, if I had a better solution (alas, my mind is saturated. Canto V is now complete!) I would use it immediately. That line is one to watch for revision.

The other slips you pointed out will be ironed out soon. I see where I correct the meter.

But to the story, I'm glad it kept your interest. You may notice in the remaining cantos that I've largely abandoned the repetition of thought in the last quatrain of each stanza. I really couldn't keep up. Also, and you may be the best person to tell me this, I'd like to know if I'm using certain words too often. I get the feeling that repeating words/phrases will make the poem boring in the long run.

Thanks for reading.

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

author comment

It is acceptable (particularly in a work of this size), but generally try to avoid "cliche" rhyme even in something that sounds this aged. Above all... don't rhyme with "love".

A short list-
Lines 14, 24, 45, 82? and 118. These lines (there are more of the same nature, but these are the ones I listed on my notepad) are what are referred to as "statement verse". It's not what you think. It means the meter rolls along at a clip when suddenly the poet lays out a hard statement. The meter is junked for that one line. It is used traditionally to... um... make a statement, so the line "should" be a moderately important one. I like them. I don't use them often because I don't use them well. Look at those lines and instead of "fixing" the meter, let's just make sure the line deserves the sudden accent.

Congratulations on living through the numbering. It's a pain isn't it? It truly helps.
This is as good as the first part.
Look at line 98 and think about whether it might be more dramatic.
Getting tired yet?

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

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Statement verse. I see. I can assure you, I had no intention of making statements there. That's flawed meter, but it's a good thing.

Looking at the examples you've listed, there is a lot of subtlely that I don't have command over. Yet.

I'll need some extra work. Line 98 of this canto might be my favourite in the entire poem so far. I still go back to read from 71 till it end there.

I thought that was dramatic. If I'll increase the drama, the previous line may have to be altered, but I'll look into it.

And finally, I'm tired. Writing this is both joy and pain. :(

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

author comment
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