I shall ride high to meet
the lords of barley;
I shall ride by and parley
with the lords of wheat
and where the brook runs down
to Camelot, I shall dismount and drink –
ere there is blood in the water, and the mighty sink;
beneath the patient oak where in the shallows wink
the pieces of the crown.
This is the full text of the poem.
I’m going to write an extended post on this on my blog, under the title ‘exploring Camelot’, so anyone interested should be able to find it there shortly. However, as a kind of preview, I’ll run through the production of the above.
Sometimes, I find myself with a kind of ‘inner itch’ and then out pops – something. In this case, it was the first two lines, exactly as above. ‘What rhymes with barley? I asked myself, ‘parley’ came straight back, ‘and wheat rhymes with meet’ – then I had, almost immediately, lines three and four. The emotional impetus of this carried me forward, and lines five and six, which are the core of the poem, and told me sort of what it was about, came also almost at once. Then the flow dried up, and the rest was blood, sweat and tears – and the result (those last three lines) is far from really pleasing me, I have to say.
More later on my own blog, including further musings on your musings, Colleen
To me the core of your poem is the last three lines. I find that they give a depth and history of the image made by the first six lines. I think the semi-colon confuses the meaning. It could read (without it) as “and the mighty sink beneath the patient oak” which then adds to the image of blood in the water and bodies sinking into the ground. To me, if the poem ended at the sixth line, it would be a nice image but would have no further context. Leaving off the last line (with some tinkering) would still give a story, a history to this image of Camelot, but the last three lines bespeak a time of glory and a time of turmoil, the future falling of Arthur and Camelot, where even the trappings of splendor come to naught and all that is left is the natural world: the oak, the water, the lords of wheat and barley.
I actually like those last three lines best of all. But again, by themselves they would not give a complete picture.
As with most musings with the muse, sometimes it is the picture or the line you are given and then you’re left with what to do with that and how to use it.