Pale Rider [*POEM*]

PALE  RIDER

by XANADU


See the Pale Rider
Knocking at the door.
Faces at the window
Freeze with shock and awe.
He eyes the merry dancers
On the fatal floor.

The singers and the dancers,
The cakes and the wine,
Carried in on platters;
The lords and ladies fine,
Laughing at their tables,
Thinking life’s divine.

All scattered in a moment
When his sickle falls,
Slicing heads from shoulders,
Splashing blood on walls,
Leaving rank cadavers
In the rotting halls.

See the Pale Rider
On his horse again,
Trot-a-trot-trotting
On to new terrain,
Plotting in the darkness—
‘Let there be pain!’

Pale Rider, Pale Rider,
Pray tell me Who made thee?
Who gave the shark its grinders?
Who formed the fish that flee?
Who built these walls of terror?
Who made the world and me?


8 thoughts to “Pale Rider [*POEM*]”

  1. An all-good, all-wise, and all-loving God made the world and you, but the world became a spiritual war zone with the fall of the rebellious angels and the Original Sin of Adam and Eve. That’s the short version. The long version includes Christ 😉

    1. I should say, as related to the subject matter of the poem, “The long version includes Christ and the redemptive value of suffering when united to His redemptive sacrifice on the Cross.” The mysterium iniquitatis, the mystery of evil, only finds its meaning there.

  2. As a lecturer in English Literature at an ancient university, it is truly heartening to find a website — I discovered this one by sheer chance — where formal poetry is still written and in which the rules of prosody are carefully observed.

    Prosody, it seems, is out of fashion nowadays. Free verse is the thing — which is basically “chopped-up prose”, which almost any hack can write nowadays and get published in obscure literary magazines.

    Writing in rhyme and meter, as Ms Darkmoon does, with careful attention paid to the number of stresses and syllables in each line, is a lost art akin to music. All our greatest poets wrote like this: Shakespeare, Milton, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Yeats, TS Eliot. (Eliot wrote free verse too, but rhyme and meter were also part of his repertoire. )

    I detect in Darkmoon’s verse, especially in the above poem “Pale Rider”, the very strong influence of two poets: William Blake and Christina Rossetti. Both were given to flights of mysticism, though Blake’s mysticism was subject to far wider flights of fancy than Rossetti’s and bordered on the “heretical”. (Heretical if you are an Orthodox Christian, that is, esp. a good Roman Catholic.)

    It’s interesting to note that Christina Rossetti was such an ardent believer in the Anglican (Protestant) version of Christianity that she rejected the man she loved because he was a Roman Catholic. He wanted to marry her, but she couldn’t go through with it because of his Catholicism. Quite extraordinary. As a result, she remained a frustrated spinster all her life, pining for him and longing for heaven.

    The ways of women are passing strange! … and this poem of Darkmoon’s is hauntingly strange in its own way, reminiscent of the work of Christina Rossetti in particular.

    1. “The ways of women are passing strange”

      The many ways of passing women have a fey hold on the soul: best look beyond to hues and curlicues of distant peaks than linger on closer hips and lips. Too late!

    2. @ N. Keeble

      I detect in Darkmoon’s verse, especially in the above poem “Pale Rider”, the very strong influence of two poets: William Blake and Christina Rossetti. Both were given to flights of mysticism, though Blake’s mysticism was subject to far wider flights of fancy than Rossetti’s and bordered on the “heretical”. (Heretical if you are an Orthodox Christian, that is, esp. a good Roman Catholic.)

      Gosh, you are uncannily accurate in your analysis of the poem! “Pale Rider” does indeed show the influence of Blake and Christina Rossetti, more than any other poets in the English language. The final stanza of the poem, for example, is pure Blake — it owes much to Blake’s most famous poem “The Tyger”:

      https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43687/the-tyger

      These lines in LD’s poem can certainly be described as “Blakeian”:

      Pale Rider, Pale Rider,
      Pray tell me Who made thee?
      Who gave the shark its grinders?
      Who formed the fish that flee?
      Who built these walls of terror?
      Who made the world and me?

      Blake’s influence is only thematic, but the influence of Christina Rossetti is much more marked. LD tells me the poem is a “homage” to Christina Rossetti’s poem “Mother Country”. This is one of LD’s favourite Rossetti poems. For some reason, it is seldom to be found in anthologies. We have published “Mother Country” on our site here:

      https://www.darkmoon.me/2020/mother-country-a-poem-by-christina-rossetti/

      What does LD’s poem “Pale Rider” have in common with Christina Rossetti’s “Mother Country”?

      Answer: the rhyme scheme is very similar.

      These technical details will be of no interest to most readers here, but it will be of interest to you as a lecturer in English Literature who knows all about prosody.

      Prosody is to poetry what musical notation is to music; it gives poetry its musicality, its rhythms, and its beautiful sound effects.

      1. Thanks for these erudite comments on prosody. Yes, now that you point it out, LD’s poem “Pale Rider” echoes and pays homage to Rossetti’s poem “Home Country”.

        Here are four lines from verse 4 of Rossetti’s poem:

        “Here Death’s hand knocketh
        At door after door,
        He thins the dancers
        From the festal floor.”

        Here is verse 1 from LD’s poem. Note the marked similarity:

        See the Pale Rider
        Knocking at the door.
        See faces at the window
        Freeze with shock and awe.
        He eyes the merry dancers
        On the fatal floor.

  3. When it’s my time to leave this world and I’m on my death bed and thinking about Life and thinking about everything I’ll soon be leaving behind, I know for sure I’ll be very happy to leave behind U.S. presidential election years. Every 4 years nothing but LIES and fake phony smiles, nothing but LIES and phony smiles from both political parties. I’ll be very happy when I don’t have to go thru anymore U.S. presidential campaign years.

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