Friday, June 13, 2014

What Manner of Man Art Thou?

The symbolism of the sword, the shield, the ring, and the crown is ancient and visceral. The crown is obviously monarchy, the entitlement to rule that is granted by birth. However, it also weighs heavy on the head (literally and figuratively) and is a symbol of the responsibility that comes with that power. The people should be foremost in the monarch's thoughts... And actions. Which brings us to the sword. Any "true king" must not merely inherit a kingdom. The monarch must prove capable and deserving. The sword symbolizes the willingness to fight for the kingdom and to prove merit by deeds. It was not enough for King Arthur to inherit his father Uther's realm, he needed Excalibur to prove his mettle. The shield is probably the most obvious symbolism. The monarch is to be the protector of the people and the land. If you have ever held or even studied these arms you know they are terribly heavy, especially the shield. Being ruler should not be taken lightly. The ring is a trickier symbol. Generally a ring symbolizes oneness, completion, unity, eternity. However, when it is royalty the ring is also a seal. This symbolizes the monarch's word, which is sacred as given and as received. Of course, I realize this is an ideal and probably no monarch has ever lived up to what a ruler is supposed to be. And obviously, we now put more power in our politicians than their royal cousins. However, the responsibility remains the same. Unfortunately, so does the sense of entitlement. These were the thoughts and images running through my head when I wrote this...


How now? What manner of man art thou?
Who seeks to wear the gilded crown
Beneath which all proud heads must bow
To the weighty matters of state.

What jewels do you bring
To the head of the King?
What entitles you to wear that ring?
And inspire the earthbound angels to sing
"How great the head of state"

Blood is not enough, you see
You must have wisdom and integrity
With a heart of love and charity
And hate the tyrant's state

Earth's oft reigned by petty fools
And the powerful use the weak as tools
To execute their greedy rule
And make an ape of the sacred state

How now? What manner of manner art thou?
Still seek to wear that weighty crown?
Wherefore that frown does crease your brow?
Take heart and let not your people down
But listen as they intimate their pure dreams of the perfect state.

A rough rough draft of something that caught my ear while flitting through my mind. Been reading Shakespeare's Henry VIII; I'm sure that influenced me. Of course, it needs plenty of editing, but I don't think I'll change it much: One of the things I like best about it is how the rhythm naturally causes you to emphasize the most important words. I suppose rhythm is generally meant to do so.

I took out a verse that I thought was too awkward but contributes irrevocably to the course of the poem, so I'll have to figure out how to work it in, in better form. In unrevised form it is as follows:

Sweet words will not assist you when there is famine in your fields
Flatterers can only hinder you when your reason fails
Propoganda cannot help you when toil has no yield
Force will only shame you when hungry children wail
Deception will not aid you when your people are in sad state

As always, I welcome kindly-intentioned criticisms, comments, and questions from all comers.

It certainly isn't the best thing I've ever written, but I like the way it flows. The last stanza is seriously flawed. And the stanza I left out? Aaawkwaaard... I always intend to come back to things like this but never do. Good thing I'm not trying to be Queen!