West Of The Moon

West of the Moon is the unofficial, temporary meeting ground for the members of Christendom's Guild of the Cross and the Quill. Sadly West of the Moon won't be in our future permanent web URL because a number of other selfish people already registered all permutations of the URL years ago without even consulting me. For that they shall pay.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Et Ex Copiis Domini

I wrote this one or two years ago. I was very much in tune with Tolkien's style at the time, so this poem bears some resemblance to the Lay of Luthien in The Fellowship of the Ring. I was concerned that verse 5 was far too simliar to verse 6 of the Lay of Luthien, and that I shouldn't have used the glimmering;shimmering rhyme scheme(I got it from the Lay, wherein it is used at least twice), or the word 'sorrowless', as I got that from the Lay too. Please let me know what you think regarding these concerns - if you get the chance , please compare this to the Lay in order to verify my concerns. Thank you!

Et Ex Copiis Domini

The world was black, the days were dark,
The sun no more to fall,
When mounted I my steed of grace
To reign the wind to Yahweh’s hall.
The helm of justice on my face,
The seal of the call,
And flying by my side the lark
Of wisdom, never deign to fall.

From north to south and back again
The cavalry did fly,
The soldiers, east to west, and thence,
To rally to the Captain’s cry.
The army by the Kingdom’s fence
Was ready not to die,
For when we marched into the fen,
The clouds were black within the sky.

The ancient hills were darkening,
When marched we to our fate,
The shadowed ones were waiting there,
With damning mace and axe of hate.
The banners of the Lord stood fair,
The evil to abate,
We fought, to lark-songs harkening,
When eve and night were falling late.

The arrows unhatefulness
In quivers bound with grace,
Were singing through the dark of night
From bows of faith and virtue’s lace.
The traitors swarmed upon the fight,
The righteous to disgrace,
With daggers of unfaithfulness
And blinding death upon their face.

It fell aback, and forth it laid,
When looked we to the King,
Like rising sun, and rolling sea,
And stars of diamond glimmering.
His brow was shining by the Tree
That stood, and towering,
And by Him rode the Armor-Maid,
Like moon on ocean shimmering.

Our hearts were strong, and soon they came
With seething, striking breath.
“No more, I said, shall darkness slay
And bring its claws and teeth of death.
We swore our oath to ever stay
From now to Ever-rest!
So come in pride, and flee in shame,
Ye heralds now of fear and death.”

The stars were resting, fair and bold,
Upon our ready sword,
Into a darkened eye to thrust
Behind the standards of the Lord.
Their eyes were red with bloody lust
Into our ranks they poured,
And with them took our tears unrolled
Like cloud and wave they roared.

On and on the battle weaved,
When falling from the moon,
The stars upon the sullied ground
With lone despair and darkness strewn.
The hawk of death and Hades’ hound
Were raging, and the moon,
Was weeping, when our soldiers grieved
For comrades lost, in shadows hewn.

The tides of earth were stained with blood
And from the crimson shore,
I looked to where my comrades fought,
But near to me they fought no more.
Their valiance was come to naught,
Their shields nevermore,
To shine in sun, and quell the flood,
Now cold they lay upon the shore.

‘O God above, and here below,
Upon the ruddy sand,
Where have my brothers fled today
And from this cursed mortal land?
My shield arm and swords were they,
We shared a common brand!
They left me under trees of woe
In darkling plain, a skyless land.’

I fell upon my wounded hands,
And cried across the sea,
And with my voice the raging sound
Of fierce, unharried villainy.
Their hoards rejoiced, and marched around
The dune ensnaring me,
And came their numbers on the sands
In triumphing and treachery.

‘You there who sit not sorrowless,
Where is your bravery?
I saw you once with fire-eyes
And free from yoke of slavery.
But now I see you’ve told Him lies
And, too, your bravery,
For here you kneel arrowless
As if you still loved slavery.’

Their voices grated in my mind
As sentencing a curse,
Before I heard another one,
From falling stars a stronger verse.
‘Despair and grief take heed to shun,
If better comes to worse!’
The Armor-Maiden, strong and kind
Was looking on my fated curse.

“I too,” she said, “was watching you,
And ere your fellows slept,
Your bow was keen, your heart was strong,
A secret evermore unkept.
So rise, I say, and take the throng,
That ‘round you here has crept,
Now take your sword and run them through!
Enough today has valor slept.”

I leapt without an idle thought
And threw my waiting knife,
Into the hoard that near me raged,
And in the heart of faithless strife.
A shriek arose that thence was caged,
And cloven by a knife,
A creature that the ones had brought
Who valued honor less than life.

His wings were wrought of adamant,
His eyes were gilded gold,
His scourge was carved of shadow-flame,
And chilling, burning, icy cold.
A tripled figure spelled his name,
Engraved in emerald,
And in the folds of bright raiment,
There glittered pearls and pyrite gold.

“Ah ha!” I cried in daunting tone,
“You thought that I was yours!
Not so, while still my Lady stands
Upon the winds of languid shores.
Now go back to your shadow-lands,
Where peaceless evil roars,”
I said, but not my voice alone,
For others were upon the shores.

Their swords with evil blood were black,
Their faces lined with pain,
But now again their hearts were light,
Like streams of sun amidst the rain.
I knew they fought throughout the night,
As I was fraught with pain,
They scoffed the noose and bloody rack
As now their arrows flew again.

To mouth of snake and heart of lie
Our bows were aimed, and taut;
The dragon fell in ignorance
Of with what pride our troops had fought.
We gazed in awe, as in a trance
On what our strength had wrought,
For nevermore were they to fly,
Their pride in shame we crushed to naught.

Our eyes then looked upon the King,
And on his hallowed sword,
He raised it high above our eyes
Beside the standards of the Lord.
He said, ‘O friends, from heaven’s skies
Receive your just reward!
You fought for Me in tears to bring
Before My Feet a faithful sword.’

Then sang of Him my Lady Grace
A-glimmer, by the Tree,
We followed where her chanting led
And to the dawn above the lee.
The cries of battle long had fled
Through earth and sky and sea,
Defeated, flew they from His Face
Et ex copiis Domini.

10 Comments:

Blogger The Dude said...

Rachael, I am truly, deeply astounded. I warn you, my ensuing comments will not be good for your sense of humility; but they may be very good for motivation for your writing; hopefully the damage will not be too great.

I read this through several times, the second time aloud. Although you probably already know this, I will nevertheless point out, just because it makes me so incredibly happy, that your sense of rhythm is very nearly perfect. Your sense of plot and drama is equally well-formed. I found, I think, two lines which had minor rhythmic flaws, and now I can’t remember what they are and I forgot to circle them as I was reading and I can’t find them.

Perhaps one of the better compliments that I could give is that I would perform this poem without a second thought; I believe it has the power in the very content and beauty and music of the words to hold an audience firmly in its spell. When I read it aloud it fell off the tongue effortlessly, and it begged dramatic inflection; I found myself acting out various portions of it. The horror of the battle, the fear and despair of the protagonist, the majesty of the King, the gentle but firm loveliness of the Maid, the reeking smell of blood and heat flowing with the “tide of the land”—all of these you made vividly present to my senses. The device of using only six syllables in the second line of each quatrain gave a driving force to the unfolding drama and the central conflict between good and evil; the whole thing revolved around the energy of those shorter lines, and you used them very, very well to push the poem ever forward.

If this is what you were capable of achieving a year or two ago, it will be fascinating and not a little exciting to watch your powers of rhythm and rhyme unfolding and developing over the next number of years as your well of experience and ideas grows ever deeper. If I could I would publish this poem a dozen times, just to get the point across that it OUGHT TO BE READ. I will admit that I didn’t read the Tolkein poems which you attribute your inspiration to; I looked the one up on the internet, but was unable to find it; however, from what I have so far seen you may have imitated Tolkein, but you imitated him well. And the first step towards developing your own voice is to be able to imitate well the masters of the past, who have survived the test of time.

If I were to offer criticism, it would be this; that at times, which were few, but significant enough, there were images and ideas being expressed which were a little confusing. Sometimes, in fact, I think you were trying to pack too much into too little space, that this poem could have actually be longer that you could have more adequately described some of the settings which are left sometimes as caricatures, not entirely filled out. Also, there were a few lines, very few and far in between, where some odd syntaxes were employed in order to force the line to adhere to the rhythmic and syllabic constraints. But they were few, and once I gave myself to the hypnotism of the rhythm, I hardly noticed them when they came up.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.

Write more. Now.

P.S. My e-mail address used to be F117ANighthawk@hotmail.com. … or something very, very close to it. Maybe there was an underscore in their somewhere; I can't really remember.

10:25 PM  
Blogger The Wayfarer said...

Geez, John the Lit-Nazi. "Open up, it's the Jaltopo, we want your words."

In spite of that, I think he put everything most nicely, but I'll try to think up something mroe.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Learning to be Alone said...

I read the poem through once thus far, and I can't wait to actually go through it a few more times in depth. It's lovely. (I like that word a lot). And now, I don't mean to be rude or stupid, but I'm afraid I'm about to prove myself too much of both: WHO is Rachael?

Confused,
Mary Beth

10:18 PM  
Blogger The Dude said...

Laura's S.'s younger sister who will be joining us in September.

10:29 PM  
Blogger F117ANighthawk said...

Thank you all very much for your kind comments. I am deeply humbled(though indeed the old peacock of pride is trying to show off its feathers). Any talent I might have truly belongs to God and I only pray that I might be a faithful tenant, referring all praise to Him. I really emphasize that this is so much a result of the Lay of Luthien as to be almost plagiaristic, and I could never have come up with it on my own(thank you Tolkien, R.I.P.). Do read the Lay if you have a copy of the Fellowship of the Ring, as it is far more beautiful than this poor and rather unoriginal effort of mine. I am a great admirer of all the poems and lays found in the Lord of the Rings, as Tolkien has an enthralling style of impeccable meter and fluent rhymes.

P.S. Rachel(no extra a).

4:46 PM  
Blogger Peachy said...

Excellent to see another fan of Tolkien carrying on the tradition. I'll compare to the lay of Leithian, but you said verse 6: do you mean canto 6?
Canto 12 is the inspiring duel between Morgoth Bauglir and the High Elven King Fingolfin, and I think it's one of my favorite passages in the lay.
I'll reread the passage. I have a copy of the Lays of Beleriand, and I'll comment later on the similarities. Tolkien is a master, and worthy to be imitated. His poetic works are not that well known, and indeed are like a rare gem.
Well, more later. Oh, yes, needless to say, I loved the poem and found it very inspiring. Very Tolkienesque to say the least.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Peachy said...

Well, it looks nothing like the Lay of Leithien (not Luthien), so it only imitates Tolkien's style of rhyme and meter.
Very good. It ought to be published.

9:50 AM  
Blogger F117ANighthawk said...

Thank you peachy. I'm much impressed with your knowledge of Tolkien - don't go too deep into his work, though, when comparing it to Et Ex Copiis Domini. Although I am a great fan of Tolkien, I confess I have not read the works you mentioned. The Lay of Luthien is the one I was concerned over(esp. verse 6, and the glimmering/shimmering rhyme scheme that is not used in verse 6 but is used in at least two other places in the lay), not the Lay of Leithian(although I ought to get my hands on that one at some empty point in time). Any similarities to the Lay of Leithian is coincidental.

11:20 AM  
Blogger F117ANighthawk said...

Excuse the bad English. Ahem...."Any similarities to the Lay of Leithian ARE coincidental."

11:21 AM  
Blogger Sheila said...

No, I really don't think it's that much like anything of Tolkien's. You used his metre and a few words (like "sorrowless"), but your images and structure, while showing his influence, were very clearly your own.

I liked it. The only thing I would say has been said before: it was sometimes a little confusing. But I really liked the spiritual-battle thing. It was truly beautiful, in the way a sword is beautiful.

6:04 PM  

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