Here Lies Arthur by Phillip Reeve

>This is my response to Here Lies Arthur by Phillip Reeve. Enjoy.

You hear the bard sing tale of my youth and exploits
He told of my play, not deeds
So I return to finish my song
The headless man in reeds.

We return to my story in the midst of battle
As we should far away of Arthur’s men
A rapid chase through wood and pine
With one who destroyed home and killed kin.

He showed and stole a woman
While through the woods he fled
And by some luck of god or goddess
His horse attacked and fell

He got back up and drew his blade
A short and pointed lance
I saw and lowered my shield
But not in time to thwart his glance

Through flesh and bone to flesh and bone
To my steed my leg was stuck
Then both went crashing to the ground
Goddess curse my luck.

I screamed and whimpered like a girl
Pounds of flesh pressed to my flank
Two comrades pulled me from the carcass
Carrying me to town on a plank

In my brother’s house I was kept
Surrounded by he, his woman and babes
And I cried more than the youngest one
When Myrridin said I’d be lame

The wound itself was deep and red
The bones within were shattered
Medwrat said, while holding my head
That god would make me better

Arthur’s wife was there too, Gwenhwyfar
Barely seen in the corner
My cause she took and had me moved
To heal better in her care

Anger seeped from my pores
That I didn’t die that night
What use to Arthur is a man
Who cannot stand and fight?

All the women sent to tend to me
I sent them all away
Even the one I took in a raid
Who came and wept all day

Those who saw me were few
My attitude made them flee
My brother, only would see me after
The only I could stand to see

What he didn’t know was I envied him
Riding with Arthur to war
Confined to this room alone
In bed, an awful bore

Console me, yes, he tried to do
With stories of the past
I’d be up and running by fall of leaf
Sometimes I thought him an ass

But somewhere within his words gave me strength
As did the stories he told
At midsummer I tried walking
Not strong enough on my own

A staff I gave all my weight
Each step filled with pain
But not halfway ‘cross the terrace
I had fallen and was crying again

Gwenhwyfar tried encouragement
Then she held me when I cried
I relaxed there, she stroked my hair
Then something stirred inside

She sent for wine and barley cakes
Then sent her girl away
Over this we spoke of future
And made plans for me to stay

She said, “Bedwyr, you’ll be my champion
When Arthur’s men are gone
When they all ride off to wars
And leave us all alone”

I was excited by this prospect
Being useful once more
But more excited for other things to come
What Gwenhyfar had in store

She told me of a sacred place
Where spring water ran too hot
Where reeds and weeds had overgrown
The bath that time forgot

I was to meet her there
The temple at the heart
There we expressed our love
Never to be torn apart

There’s a heightened sense of something I missed
Being with Gwenhyfar
It’s not the love we share together
But maybe danger, maybe fear

But every morning tending the horses
I think of the moments we share
The touch of her hands, the feel of her skin
The silkyness of her hair

But sooner or later Arthur must return
And what to come of us then?
Though he has never had interest in her
And we both are naught but men

So I ask “what will we do when Arthur comes home?”
And Gwenhwyfar says he may not
That he may be cut down as Valerius once was
And left in the battlefield to rot

I say that Arthur cannot be killed
Warriors like him never can
Not long as he carries Caliburn
He is Britannia’s safest man

We go around in circles
Predicting Arthur’s demise
Suggesting Cei take his place
His rule would be more wise

I told her I’d kill Arthur
Then she’d be mine to wed
We both knew I could barely stand
And that Arthur’d have my head

I told her that I’d treasure her
The way Arthur never did
I never saw her as an aged woman
Though we’d never have a kid

The last night in the darkness
A small voice called out “Lady?”
A girl appeared with startling news
That Arthur was back already

The girl made plans to save us
But it already was too late
We just stared, holding each other
Already sealing our fate

Arthur came in and bellowed
His voice echoed from the stone
Though I knew he was my kinsman
I knew I wouldn’t go home

Lightning flared on Caliburn
Arthur’s sacred blade
And from the hatred flash in his eye
His hand would not be stayed

My head was left in sacred spring
My lady’s shift was sprayed with red
Warrior, lover, champion, now
All I am is dead

You heard my story of youth and play
And now one of my deeds
Now I leave having told my story
The headless man in reeds.

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