Sunday, 25 August 2013

'The Riders' - Lord Dunsany

Who treads these level lands of gold,
The level fields of mist and air,
And rolling moutains manifold
And towers of twilight over there?

No mortal foot upon them strays,
No archer in the tower dwells,
but feet too airy for our ways
Go up and down their hills and dells.

The people out of old romance,
And people that have never been,
And those that on the border dance
Between old history and between.

Resounding fable, as the king
Who held his court at Camelot.
There Guinevere is wandering
And there the knight Sir Lancelot.

And by yon precipice of white,
As steep as Roncesvalles, and more,
Within an inch of fancy's sight,
Roland the peerless rides to war.

And just the tip of Quixote's spear,
The greatest of them all by far,
Is surely visible from here!
But no, it is the Evening Star.

I'm not one for talking about poetry, not really. I wouldn't know where to start for one thing; I paid my dues at English A-Level (which was hard enough) but now a lot of poetry is like a foreign language to me. It sounds musical to my ears but I can't understand it. The landscape described in 'The Riders' though, it's where we all go isn't it? Well, fans of fantasy anyway. It may well be that 'No mortal foot upon them strays' but we have all caught a glimpse of 'these level lands of gold' whenever we've opened a book and caught a glimpse of the magic. It's the 'rolling moutains', and that almost tangible connection between legend and the fantasy stories of today, that keep us turning the pages. Well, me anyway (now that I'm thinking about it a little more).

Looking back at what I've just written, maybe it was just that I never found the right poems that would talk to me in the way that 'The Riders' did. Lord Dunsany's imagery is magical and not only can I see those lands but I want to go back and visit again. On the old blog, I once wrote a short post about how poetry in fantasy just left me cold; I'll still hold to that with certain books (*Cough!*The Hobbit*Cough!) but maybe I'm ready to be proved wrong just a little bit. Any recommendations? I'm pretty sure Robert E. Howard wrote a poem or two and a couple of others whose names escape me (Clark Ashton-Smith? Lovecraft?)

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