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Brian's Blog

As first published in the Sept 2015 newsletter, here's an "epic" poem I wrote. Has nothing to do with consignment, but Romantic types might enjoy it :-) After the poem are some editorial comments about the literary techniques I used. -Brian
The Nespus Lilly
by Brian Meny, Jan 1992

Part I – The Gardner

Legend has it long ago there lived an ant as white as snow.
A noble Knight with tales untold of dragons, fights, and crowns of gold;
His sword hath known no foe undone with fencing skills surpassed by none
and fearful of no ant save one, the Bearer of the Dark.

As Fate would have him leave his mark, the Pale Knight saw a distant spark.
Along the path he travelled by, he came across an ant whose cry
was toning sounds of sorrowness and of disheartened loneliness;
the ant in darkened emptiness was sitting by a fire.

"What ails, I say, my trusted sire in darkness sits, what need so dire?"
"Forgive me sir, for I have lost; Misfortune came to reap his cost.
A lovely garden was my trade inside a home my own hands made
but lightning came to fire's aid and not a plant was spared.

Inside my home I had prepared the greatest gift I could have shared
With Princess Amber and her groom, the winner of the Crystal Room.
A tiny flower I had grown with beauty no one else has known
in man or beast for I alone know secrets of the soil."

"Please tell me more, my friend of toil. The Crystal Room, what is the spoil?"
"The King of Nespus hath request in all his lands the swordsmans' best;
The other knights he must surpass and then walk through the room of glass
to place a gift upon the Glass without him making sound.

But wary those to go a round; a Dark Knight's sword's the best around.
He hasn't lost a fight to date and long since hoped to be her mate.
No serf has liked him since he came; he's fearless, sly, and knows no shame
but none can stop his dreadful claim, 'The Princess hand I'll win.'"

"Fear not, old man, the Earth must spin. By morning's light Misfortune's twin
will grant you luck, an equal share, but only if in heart you care.
Until the emberred soot is gone, the rain will fall into the dawn.
For now with speed I travel on to join the Nespus fight."

And so the Bearer of the Light proceeded down into the night
to seek the Nespus castle gate and see what lies ahead by Fate.
The Bearer of the Dark was near and face he must his greatest fear
to save his love and fondest dear, the Princess, from his foe.

Part II – The King
All through the night the raid did blow to only wet the gardner's hoe;
A single cloud with saddened eye to weep enchanted tears and cry.
In morning's haze his heart reached out and touched the hearts of worlds throughout;
Before his eyes he watched it sprout, a miracle of earth.

Reaching then a gate of girth the Iv'ry Knight had felt its birth;
With smiling face proceeded in his not forgot but long since been,
the Nespus Castle here to find the King engrossed in paper-lined.
When looking up he smiled in kind, "And welcome home, my son."

"Alas, my Lord, I am your son if I and Amber wed as one,
But even if I face defeat, my father lost you'll always be.
And now, my Highness, I insist you grant my wish and not resist;
please add my name to roster's list so I may win her hand."

"So long ago you left our land. The Fates for you had purpose grand.
We've heard the tales of Ghostly Knight whose presence tolled opposer's plight,
but now I fear you are too late for Darkness came to Nespus gate.
He's not been beaten since to date; his sword has magic fire.

But if your heart you still desire you name I'll add, just tell the squire.
The final round will be till death; you must remove your foe's last breath.
But come, my boy, you need to rest. To win you'll need to be your best.
One hour hence begins the test for Princess Amber's heart."

And soon the tournament did start. He fought his fights and did his part
throughout the day advancing on; he mastered swords of every pawn.
His legs were tired and arms did ache but hardly had a scratch to take
and one by one he made his wake until the final round.

By dusk the crowd was all around the center field in which they found
the Kinghts of Light and Dark in place to duel till death in battle face,
but soon the smiles had all gone long as winds began to come on strong
and clouds above would roll along; a Time of Fate drew nigh.

"At last we meet," said Dark in dry. "I've seen the end and there you cry.
Prepare to lose your first and last; the shadows rule where light is cast."
"I've heard the tales," said Light in fun. "My friend of old could not have done.
I fear of what you have become. As friends we are no more."

Part III – The Balance
As swords were drawn the winds did roar and needled drops of rain did pour.
The Knights of Fate drew near to clash; when sword met sword a thundered crash
had filled the sky with light ablaze as lightning struck a house to raze
but rain would thwart a fire's ways. A puff of smoke instead.

The yells of panic filled the head as ants with wife and children fled.
The spears of light a deadly dance had lit the air with strikes at chance.
The sounds of clanging barely hear, the Knights fought on with thoughts centered
upon the sword with whom they spurred but soon the Light grew weak.

"Now Simon, dear," the Dark did speak. "You tire so? I glanced your cheek.
You cannot win – I have the spell. These lightning bolts come straight from Hell.
Around my neck I wear a charm I found one day while on the farm.
It gives me strength and keeps me warm though walls of rain would chill."

"I see," said Light. "I bear no ill. My Destiny has had its fill.
But answer me before I'm gone; the gardner man he did you wrong?"
"Inside his house I realized a gift he'd give to Nespus bride
would be the end and my demise so strike it down I bid."

And Light replied "I must forbid your reign of fear and all you did.
I see that all is not your fault and, too, what must be done to halt.
For ev'ry up there is a down, for ev'ry smile exists a frown,
and ev'ry silence has its sound. The evil must end here."

The rain then stopped as Light stepped rear and sheathed his sword for Fate to hear.
He reached under his armor full to find a necklace, give a pull,
and hold in hand the charm he found, an amulet upon the ground
whose glowing stone in White was round and threw with all his might.

When Simon turned, he knew the sight and said to Seph, "It's time to fight."
The amulet of Black Seph wore had fallen and was seen no more.
The clouds dispersed and stars in sky dwarfed in light by full moon high
and swords again rang out in night but Seph had lost his hope.

Without his strength he had to grope and soon was at the end of rope.
A ringing clash sent sword from hand and Seph had knelt, too tired to stand.
But just before the final blow, Sir Simon let his sword not go.
"Seph's not to blame. I've killed the foe. The Kinght of Dark is dead."

Part IV – The Princess
The crowd returned and they were led by Gardner who had turned and said,
"Please take this sir, you'd honor me. A gift to you and bride-to-be."
And in his hands a flower held the likes of which no ant could weld.
Its beauty shone if magic spelled, a single Lilly bloom.

It rustled like a feathered plume with down of pink, light blue, maroon,
a hint of red and yellow stripes, enormous petals blossomed ripe,
and touch of fragrance honey sweet. Then Simon stumbled to his feet
and headed to the Room to meet his only one true Love.

The Princess Amber watched above so tense with horrored visions of
him breaking glass and making sound for crystal things were all around.
Her breath in chest, he staggered in; she saw his face was pale and thin
with eyes that'd seen too much within – her prayers went out in thought.

He stumbled once and barely caught, and all could see his limbs he fought,
but will of ant or act of Fate he reached the end of Room's estate.
With tender hands in Glass he placed the Lilly Gardner gave in faith
and turned to see on Amber's face a smile upon her heart.

She ran to him; the crowd did part rejoicing songs sung from the start
but when her kiss had touched his lips the Room was filled with glowing blips
and suddenly all glass of old had turned into same shapes of gold.
The King to Simon said in bold, "The gold's my gift to wed!"

"I knew you'd come," she softly said. "I've heard your promise in my head
each day that you were gone from me to soon return and marry me.
My Love for you was always true and patiently I'd wait anew
each passing morn to see if you had reached the Nespus line."

With withered body he felt fine and thought that Love had frozen Time.
He puller her close and hugged her tight and knew again he'd never fight.
He looked at her and slowly sighed, while in her arms he fin'lly cried
the tears of which he'd been denied for all that he had seen.

Not far away beneath the green of forest trees beside the stream
an amulet of White in stone was glowing soft where it was thrown.
Some years from now it will be found just lying there upon the ground
until an ant just walking round will find by chance or Fate...
The Nespus Lilly
Hope you enjoyed the poem :-) I was inspired by watching an ant colony methodically move its eggs a great long distance in the forest while camping... The first line of the poem came to me and I thought was cool, so I developed the storyline as I wrote it. I've always had a belief in the world and Life having a balance of sorts. The scary part of this equation is my Life has had SOOOO many blessings I am quite scared of the day(s) where the "curses" come if there truly is a cosmic balance!!!

For you literary geeks out there or a student of the written word, there are numerous techniques employed in the poem :-) As an Engineer, I think fairly "symmetrically" (perhaps leading towards my "balance" of Life thought process) and the poem is fairly structured, in contrast to free form prose. Here are some interesting thoughts:
1) Meter:
With very few exceptions, the meter is quad pairs in each stanza, also known as iambic:
_-_-_-_- _-_-_-_- (8 beats, minor-major tempo)
_-_-_-_- _-_-_-_-
_-_-_-_- _-_-_-_-
_-_-_-_- _-_-_- (7 beats, minor-major temp)
The first line of the poem, for example, is one exception. To conform, it should read "A Legend has it long ago" (verbal emphasis underlined every other syllable) but I thought it sounded better without the leading "A". Interestingly, the human mind could pronounce the word "A" in either of two ways: "ay" or "uh" and neither sounded right as an opening syllable. How many other exceptions are there?

2) Rhyme:
The rhyming scheme is quite involved:
xxxxxxxxxA xxxxxxxxxA
xxxxxxxxxB xxxxxxxxxB
xxxxxxxxxC xxxxxxxxxC
xxxxxxxxxC xxxxxD
xxxxxxxxxD xxxxxxxxxD
xxxxxxxxxE xxxxxxxxxE ....
Note that the rhyme structure not only internally rhymes, but the end of one stanza cross rhymes with the next stanza.

3) Literary techniques used:
Find examples of Consonance (sentences containing internal words with similar, repetitive sounds like "kitten's mittens").
Find examples of Alliteration (generally consecutive words starting with the same letter or sound like Little Lady Loves Letters).
Find examples of Assonance (also known as forced-rhymes, half-rhymes, or near-rhyme, where words almost rhyme like stark and start). I do not like this approach and tried to minimize throughout, but several seemed unavoidable!
Find examples of Foreshadowing (there are several and some are subtle :-)
Find examples of Metaphors (a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable like "a blazing door")
Find examples of Anthropormorphism (attributing human qualities to nonhuman objects like "The rock heard the distant rumble")
Find examples of the Theme (balance) throughout... Many examples!
How many different ways are the protagonist and antagonist described?