Having been inspired by Shakespeare’s “Love is not love / Which alters when it alteration finds” during my high school years, I became intrigued by the concept of true love.
Below is a piece in which I explore the tenacity of love through the story of two lovers who are separated not only by physical walls, but also by social status, the law, and ultimately death.
When I showed this poem to one of my teachers during high school, she remarked that it was rather tragic, as it features an innocent captive who is sentenced to death. I agree that there is a note of tragedy here, but I also think that love’s resilience, which is what I attempted to capture, is far from tragic, and is in itself rather optimistic.
The Knight’s Rose
He came upon feet swift as falling rain,
Cloaked in a robe the color of the earth.
And through the misty midnight air he came
As dark and lithe, as swift as he was worth.
He reached the darkened window wherein lay
A sleepless maiden – waiting for this knight.
A simple slave, conditioned to obey,
Yet yearned her heart, for Passion Flames burned bright.
Rough work had made the simple slave’s hands rough,
But yet, upon his face her hand was smooth.
And though her arms were scarred and beat enough,
The gentleness he found in them could soothe.
Intrepid was the knight, yet so afraid…
For soon the slave would wrongly lose her head,
A scapegoat! Caught in so crime-filled a trade
That she would be the least among the dead.
And yet she knew although she’d have to die,
That through her death, she would be freed to live
Inside his heart, with ne’er a lonely sigh,
Able at last to fully herself give.
The Day of Death arrived upon swift feet,
And clothed in but a dirty, flea-filled sack,
The slave – against a pillar – tied and beat.
With growing welts upon her dainty back.
Her fervent eyes searched each face in the crowd
And found at last the Face that she loved best –
Her voice was silent, but her Love was loud,
And then, at last her tortured limbs found rest.
Bored with the scene, the crowds now moved away,
And soon the mournful knight stood all alone.
He knelt, and there remained to mourn and pray
Though prayers flowed with curses to the Throne.
Upon the rising of the silver moon
The grieving knight came forth from his black trance.
He rode toward the Starry Silver-Spoon
With him, she rode – o’er the earth’s expanse.
To starlit grove, romance cache; he came,
Still with her laden in his heart and arms.
In death, her lovely face was still the same,
Yet held in death far more enchanting charms.
And in the grave he buried her that night.
He would not quell the burning tears that flowed
And for his love, his heart blazed fervent white;
He placed upon the mound of earth; A Rose.
No matter if the day was bright or gray,
It mattered not if clouds were in the sky
For neither rain nor hail could bar the way.
The knight would come with brandished Rose held high.
And every year thereafter, he returned:
To place a Rose upon her treasured grave.
For till the day he died, the knight’s heart burned
With maddened love for his dear maiden brave.
And even now, although the knight is dead,
And though the world remembers not his woes,
He rises yearly from his earthen bed
To place upon his maiden’s grave; A Rose.