The Warrior’s Glade

Warriors End Flower cropped

In the original stories of the Arthurian cycle, the summer and autumn journeys of Sir Gawain, during his year of waiting for death at the hands of the Green Knight, are little documented and left to our imagination. In this poem, the Knight rests in a glade and becomes enraptured by a flower that reminds him of the pentagram, his symbol. The depth of the flower’s kiss will move him, now, but be lost to his active consciousness until much later . . .

This poem is part of a cycle of Gawain related work, to be released as an illustrated book in the Spring of 2016.

The inner meanings of the stories of Sir Gawain, the Green Knight and Lady Ragnell are the main thread for Leaf and Flame, the Silent Eye’s 2016 Spring Workshop, to which all are welcome.

Warriors End Flower cropped

Come warrior of ancient ways

And stay your quest in gentle care

Within these loving petals sleep

And free from straps the weight you bear

Which now, though tested, forged and true

Serves no more the life that dares


The path of mind and duty bore you

Far from home and far from root

Though cleverness of mind ensued

The secret heart of mind stayed mute

Still silent to your pleas and sighs

As heavy thoughts bore darker fruit


So from your head drop helmet’s weight

And bless the earth to see it healed

Make new mind clear and lacking fear

Embrace the unknown land revealed

This sacrifice will change what is

and turn your soul to what must yield


The past will have no say in this

Your day of life whose love is gold

So break the links of that which thinks

In patterns overgrown and old

And cast aside the ghosts of then

Revealing present stories to be told


There is no shame in passion’s game

To live and love is body’s nature

But we must drink from green world’s sap

To know what is beyond, and capture

The hidden taste of higher wine, whose essence

Will our hearts, not loins, enrapture


Within your breast a secret art

Awaits its time to grow and flower

So rise beyond the deep despond

That’s ransomed this, your darkest hour

And, easing breast plate, find that heart

That, naked, knows eternal power


Now bring your eyes from purest white

To see discarded plate and metal spun

Put down your sword, and loose the reins

Cast these away, their time is done

Then let bold Nature quench her thirst

On beauty that you have become


©Copyright words and image Stephen Tanham, July 2015

Dark Night of the Stone

Gawain for Poem Shiny Green ace

Dark Night of the Stone

Freezing fingers clutch the silver cup

The thin but faithful horse stands grace

Equine feelings urge Gawain, “Go on”

The mountain stream adds ice; its own

Completing miseries’ embrace


How did we come to this, Gawain?

His frozen thoughts; the pain, protest

How did we seek a place unknown

To pay the debt we shouldn’t own

From Christmas last, a bitter jest!


He fingers coins, full purse of spite

“Perhaps I’ll buy a room!”

But round him snow and frozen streams

Speak far of warming tavern’s dreams

And icy wind that offers only doom


A mind, half starved, breaks off a branch

“May I divine a place to Yule!”

The joke is lost on blackening fells

Which long for village evening bells

Far from that place where death’s the only rule


His strength no more can fight the cold

He draws his sword and drives its mark

Into the earth, then at this cross begins to pray

In deepest heart beloved Arthur finds a way

And fire which needs no place defies the dark

©Copyright Stephen Tanham, 2015