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Bardic Arts

A Stranger in the West
Branwen ferch Emrys

One day a bold stranger strode into the hall,
clad all in bright shining mail.
He sneered as he stepped past the knights arrayed tall,
and left thunder and heat in his trail.

He strode to King Stephen and threw down his glove,
stood proud and refusing to kneel.
But when he disdained She of beauty and love,
King Stephen's pale eyes turned to steel.

"Tell me, strange knight, what you do in this place,
that you anger my folk and my queen."
King Stephen's gold hair glowed like fire round his face,
and danger stood tall in his mien.

"The knights in your kingdom fright me not at all.
Their combat 'minds me of small girls.
Their honor is worthless, their word a false call,
Their conduct 'minds me of base churls."

The strange knight stood silent; King Stephen stood grim.
His war-tested queen stayed his hand.
"This knight with the loud tongue, waste no time with him.
Let your boys be the first to withstand."

Prince Braun stood up then, stood up, and stood up,
and Eliza stood brave by his side.
He reached way down far, and set down his cup,
and stretched out his bear arms so wide.

"I'll do it," said he, reaching back for his ax,
which stood near as tall as stood he.
Eliza's look promised bones piled high in stacks,
and none glared more fiercely than she.

"Wait," said Prince Daniel, who stood taller still,
the black swan a threat on his chest.
His sword in his left hand, and steel in his will,
he glowed with the strength of the West.

Guiliana, His Princess, a swan on her brow,
lent strength and support of her own.
"Dispatch this foul miscreant, dispatch him right now,
with your hands, not a weapon, alone."

"Aye, mates," said Cornelius, "I'm here for you, too.
I'll show what we do in the south.
With my sword a bright arc of shining steel blue,
I'll carve this black knave a new mouth."

Morwynna, so calm, a smile on her face,
said, "He'll do it; he'll honor his claim.
So unless you be filled with spectacular grace,
beware of the lands you defame."

Prince Morbran, in blue, joined his brothers three,
a wolf howl alive in his voice.
"You'll die here today, my sword stuck in thee.
Fight well, yet you'll die with no choice."

Margarita, his lady, said not one word,
yet a smile shone with glee from her eye.
The glow on her face said she liked what she'd heard,
and she'd like to see the knight die.

Prince Braun with his ax took the strange knight's left arm,
while Daniel made do with his right.
Then Cornelius cut him a grievous harm,
and Morbran, he finished the fight.

The head of the strange knight rolled up to the king,
and spoke as it came to its rest,
"Think well on my words if you know anything:
Don't mess with the men of the West."

Her Highness Eliza asked me to write a poem to commemorate the unusual event that all the crowned heads of the West would be present at one time at Crown Tournament. I decided that since it would necessarily be a longish poem, it should be exciting, too. -- Branwen

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