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July 2007
William F. Gilreath
All Rights Reserved
wgilreath@gmail.com

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Pocrrv las alwavs lccn onc ol mv lavorirc pasrimcs. lorl in rcading and wriring sonncrs.
sranzas. and couplcrs ol vcrsc. Modcrn pocrrv sccms ro lack a sulsrancc rlar carlicr works ol
sucl grcar pocrs as ¡ord Bvron. William Blakc. Samucl 1avlor Colcridgc. and ¡dgar Allcn
Poc. 1lc pocms ol rlcsc and orlcr pocrs and a lovc ol lanrasv and advcnrurc srorics lavc
culminarcd inro rlc pocm now lclorc vou.

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classical pocrs. and lonors rlcir works wirl irs nosralgic srvlc. ! lopc rlar vou rlc rcadcr
cnjov rlc pocm as mucl as ! cnjovcd wriring ir. and arc inspircd ro dccpcr cxplorc rlc
world ol pocrrv.

! wclcomc commcnrs. criricism. and lccdlack via rlc !nrcrncr. Plcasc lccl lrcc ro c-mail ar
wgilreath@gmail.com. ! cannor guaranrcc ro rcplv ro all mcssagcs. lur ! do rcad cvcrv
mcssagc scnr ro mc.

! sinccrclv lopc vou cnjov rlc pocm as mucl as ! lavc cnjovcd wriring ir.

William ¡. Gilrcarl
!ulv 2007


























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iv


Valiant Quest
1
I was summoned to the king at his behest,
and in his noble presence was sent upon a valiant quest.

"Seek the fortunes the lore and legends foretold,"
"and bring back to our kingdom the needed jewels and gold."

"Where do I go, for whom do I seek?"
I asked the king in a voice so meek.

"Look into your heart to find the route,"
"and all obstacles and pitfalls along the way will work out."

I humbled myself with a deep sweeping bow,
and the king said, "Let your valiant quest begin now."

With a wave of his hand, the king indicated the audience's end,
and from then on the wealth of the kingdom on me did depend.

I left the king's castle, my mind confused and abuzz,
lost as to where to begin my great adventure, as one usually does.

I wandered back and forth, to and fro,
not quite knowing where I would go.

#

Wandering into a meadow all so clear,
and I continued to wander far and wander near.

Continuing a little further onward along my way,
I entered another meadow, occupied by a stone to large to say.

I pushed and heaved with all my might,
and the massive boulder gave a sleight heave to the right.

I looked under the massive boulder underneath,
and below which was a dagger in a sheath.

Reaching in with caution and care,
I retrieved the dagger from its secretive layer.


Valiant Quest
2
Having the new treasure as mine to keep,
I ventured onward into a wooded grove so deep.

Traveling further, and much to my surprise,
I encountered a wolf with hunger in its eyes.

I took flight with very great haste,
for hound's repast was not my life to waste.

I came to a bridge across a river it spanned,
and crossing it was easy, or so I had planned.

As I began to make my way across the bridge,
a grumpy troll appeared from a hidden cave in the ridge.

I had nothing to give, no way to pay the troll,
so my journey in that direction I could not go.

I made a great and rapid retreat,
and during so, heard the earth tread beneath my feet.

Proceeding further on, I came to a patch of carrot,
and so with all my might from the earth did tear it.

I didn't know what future use this object might take,
but in my quest I did not know what course destiny would make.

My meanderings and wanderings took me deeper into the forest,
and after much time encountered a cabin whose construction was poorest.

Entering within the cabin made of aged wood,
I made the acquaintance of a woodcutter in penury, doing what he could.

"Welcome to my humble abode," said he,
"I would help you if I could, but I can't even feed my family."

I thanked the woodcutter and his wife for being so nice,
and as I left resolved to find for their penury something to suffice.

Wandering without destiny, traveling without aim,
a forest oracle cut short my marauding, freezing me is if lame.

Valiant Quest
3
The aged sorcerer raised up a withered hand,
and his spell's price was the freedom I demand.

My heart pounded and my head reeked of fear,
I prayed and hoped no hostile creature passed near.

But fortunately, secure was my fate,
and I did not become the memory of something a monster ate.

And soon, much to my surprise and glee,
I found I could move, and that I was free.

Know where you go, be sure of where you wander,
or you are a fool, and your time you do squander.

#

Having escaped the malicious mischief of the forest mage,
I pressed onward, and came upon a boy of not much age.

I spoke to the lad in a voice so warm,
he realized that I meant him no harm.

The boy came closer, "Kind sir," said he,
"you are the first man to me who has been friendly."

He reached into the sack attached across the girth of his loin,
and from it removed and gave me a gold coin.

This treasure filled a necessary need,
though it was not mercenary greed.

I left the lad, and departed,
and from his friendship and gift I smarted.

Many encounters, no treasure to say, at my quest I began to scoff,
I wandered around mindlessly half the day, soon I wandered off.

I thought I had searched the kingdom all over,
but I soon realized otherwise when I stumbled into a patch of clover.


Valiant Quest
4
The clover patch was lovely, thick, and deep.
If it were a crop there'd be a harvest to reap.

Walking through the patch was like chewing too much with your teeth,
as I muddled through I soon spied a lucky clover, a four-leaf.

Knowing any luck on this adventure might be the trick,
I carefully from the ground did of the four-leaf clover pick.

I proceeded onward on my trek,
moving along forward, never looking back.

I traveled for a while along the seacoast,
passing an abandoned stockade, no one manning the post.

Soon I reached and end of my route at the top of a sea cliff,
far below was the blue ocean, the scent of salt air I caught a whiff.

I proceeded along adjacent to the deep blue sea,
and I came to a spot populated with many a tree.

My curiosity aroused drove me closer to the spot,
fear and anticipation were absent, so I knew them not.

I could discern form my much closer view,
only what my eyes would tell me was true.

Beyond the trees, in the side of the cliff was a hole,
the residence of some sea denizen, but the grotto was as dark as coal.

I was watching the enigmatic sea cave behind a grassy knoll,
and from the spot I saw outside the sea cave a ceramic bowl.

So creeping closer, I stealthily approached the strange dish,
for taking it as mine without struggle was my utmost wish.

I snatched the ceramic bowl as quick as I could,
and made a silent retreat to the thick pinewood.

The object of my thievery I did examine,
but not for an appraisal for unneeded mammon.

Valiant Quest
5
On the bottom of the ceramic bowl was etched a word,
that word being "FILL" and if spoken, no one would have heard.

So that word I did utter,
without error, and without a stutter.

And much to my shock and surprise,
the bowl filled with hot stew, right before my very eyes.

I did eat of the magically made stew,
and delicious and refreshing it was to.

I licked the bowl dry, I scraped it clean,
and once again the word on its bottom could be seen.

#

I changed my direction backward, having things I did need, so
now on my journey I might come closer to my noble deed.

Yet I somehow got off the beaten track,
but so far the quick realization I was to lack.

Where I was, that I did not know,
but there was little else but forward to go.

As I marauded and meandered hither,
and walked and wandered thither.

I spotted something, which I could not ignore,
on the side of the mountain, a large wooden door.

So the gargantuan portal did arouse in me,
a strange interest and intense curiosity.

The feeling of curiosity did so soar,
that I went up to and scrutinized the wooden door.

But alas, I soon discovered entrance within was not free,
for I eyed a keyhole in need of a key.


Valiant Quest
6
I peered through the keyhole to see what I could see,
and inside the mountain I spied a stone staircase, just barely.

Knowing that there was nothing I could do,
I moved along, but keeping in mind what I now knew.

Further onward I came to a sun lit glade,
with a stump, rotted log and wood chips the woodcutter's axe made.

I believed the rotted log to be some animal's den,
but when I looked in, spotted something within.

It was a unreachable sack, so I thought of what I had to use as tools,
and by using the dagger I took the bag, opening to reveal jewels.

To feel guilty of discovery or misgivings of being cruel,
would surely be just grounds to make me a fool.

I continued along my route with my find,
being thankful that fate had been so kind.

I steered myself form the woodcutter's grove,
contented on making my way from where I had found the treasure trove.

#

As I passed through a shaded glade a fairy appeared,
and my consternation rose, my expectations were feared.

With a gesture and wave of her magic wand,
she so blessed me, for of good deeds she is fond.

"Your valiant quest is very much indeed one of good,"
"and as an endowed protector, I have done as I should."

"Yet I cringe at the thought of betrayal,"
"of my evil sister, for whom I weep and wail."

"Beware good wayfarer, in her heart evil has made a home,"
"and in her mind malignant thoughts and feelings roam."


Valiant Quest
7
"She may appear as a guardian of light,"
"but in actuality she is a force darker than night."

"Your flesh she will pry from your bones,"
"and relish your agony and retching moans."

"Death to you will be to her a past repast treat,"
"for human flesh to her has a taste so sweet."

"Of your valiant quest, the kingdom is in need,"
"which only you can meet, when you succeed."

Though good the fairy's motives may be,
the stirring emotional turmoil released realized not she.

I was fearful of that whose path I had not crossed,
now all directions seemed fruitless, I felt lost.

Then I recalled the words of an aged sage,
"Let not fearful expectations be your prison cage."

Thus with the comfort of solace obtained,
my strength renewed, my courage gained.

With stamina rejuvenated and so renewed,
upon my valiant quest I continued.

Remembering the bridge with the troll,
which I did not cross--not having the toll.

My logical course was to return there hence,
and cross, once paying the troll a pence.

I made my way as best I could tell,
and inadvertently came across an ancient well.

Looking down, it was very dark down there,
and the blackness made stand upon my head every hair.

A wooden bucket hung over the mouth of the well,
and lowering it, descended to a depth I could not tell.

Valiant Quest
8
On a mischievous thought of sudden whim,
I conceived to break the rope over the well's rim.

I tried to pull apart the rope with all my might,
but still the hemp strands held fast and tight.

I raised the bucket form far, far below,
and suddenly realized what I already did know.

I felt awkward for not thinking of it at first,
for now I could do my mischievous worst.

Utilizing the dagger, the rope strands I did pierce,
and the bucket I took, it held not fast or fierce.

To me for my deed I thought the bucket would be cursed,
still I drank from it, and the water quenched my thirst.

My foreboding feeling was a joke,
for from a cursed bucket from drinking, I'd have choked.

Proceeding onward, with my thirst relieved,
from my mouth a heavy sigh I heaved.

Back into the forest so deep I went,
with time and distance going by like money spent.

After awhile I arrived at my rendezvous,
and the area's familiarity created a sense of déjà vu.

#

I walked onto the bridge I'd nearly crossed before,
the gruesome troll appeared, a presence I could not ignore.

For the use of his bridge, the troll wanted a toll,
or any deadbeat would be thrown into the brook below.

From the underside of my belt fastened just above the groin,
I removed and gave the young boy's gift, the gold coin.


Valiant Quest
9
The troll accepted the gold coin for the toll immediately,
and disappeared, so I crossed most very expediently.

On the other side of the brook was an isolated isle,
whose being there for me to comprehend took awhile.

I walked further inward, and I did spy,
an old man hobbling about, out of the corner of my eye.

The old man leaned heavily on a crude wooden cane,
and I surmised in observing he appeared in aged pain.

He spotted me, as I was some distance away,
and he started toward me, walking with a sway.

"You are the first human being for me to see,"
"ever since my brother the troll imprisoned me."

"I have been here for many a decade,"
"and in all that time my misery has been made."

"My crime was to be the keeper of the family key,"
"and for that I was imprisoned, death would only set me free."

"This key is for a door, or perhaps a lock,"
"but why this is so, when entry can be gained from a knock."

The old man led me to his lean-to made of sticks and stones,
and he gave me and enormous brass key, and said in a low tone:

"Take this key, the source of my misery,"
"for its to me, a loss that will set me free."

After these words, he collapsed into a heap,
and was very dead, sleeping the eternal sleep.

I returned to the spot of the mountain door,
and wondered what lay beyond, more and more.

There was no knocker on the door with which to knock,
so I inserted the brass key and turned it in the lock.

Valiant Quest
10
The door swung openly outward silently,
and with access gained, I entered compliantly.

The foot of the staircase had rubble and debris,
and I selectively gathered large pieces intuitively.

Peering up the staircase, it rose to such a height,
and seemed to go on, with no end in sight.

I climbed the slick slate staircase fast as I could,
but was careful, falling would be fatal as I understood.

Climbing so long made the strength in my legs wane,
on reaching the top, I knew my efforts were not in vain.

I had entered a dark, gloomy grotto in the back end,
and exploring further, found an entrance around the bend.

I was high on a mountain plateau, the air so thin,
yet dust had settled, I wondered if a visitor had ever been.

#

I was fearful of becoming lost in the clouds,
for who knows what manner of mystery it shrouds.

Listening carefully, I heard a just audible sound,
a thump-thump, footsteps upon the earthen ground.

The nature of this sound was an enigma--malevolent or benign,
the matter I had to resolve, for my destiny is mine.

I followed the noise into the swirling mist,
and seemed lost, at each sound I did turn and twist.

Soon I came into an open, clear area,
and was glad to be free from the misty barrier.

On a rock further away, was an enormous wooden chest,
a chest of endless treasure--an object of my valiant quest.


Valiant Quest
11
But I soon noticed the guardian of the treasure,
and knew that vanquishing it would be no pleasure.

A gargantuan man, a giant, wandered to and fro,
thankfully, my presence he did not seem to know.

The burly giant in my direction did not glance,
and I realized he was mesmerized into a trance.

I knew I could not bribe my way past,
for the giant would crush me, and I'd breathe my last.

The dagger I did not wish to throw,
for when I'd be in need of it I did not know.

I then realized what at the giant I could hurl,
the rocks I'd taken, which to me were now a sacred pearl.

The first I threw as hard as possible after careful aim,
yet I missed, and had only myself to blame.

I tried again, and again, all for naught,
and if this were a divine doing, what a lesson I was taught.

My conscious reckoning of humbleness did work,
for on my last try, I was rid of that disabling quirk.

The hard rock was buried and burrowed into the giant's brain,
and upon his face the blood and grey matter did stain.

On impact, the stone cracked open and nearly split his head,
the giant crashed to the ground, instantaneously dead.

I ran past the dead guardian and took the chest,
tasting the sweetness of victory, having passed a test.

Yet I felt sorrow, for a life I did have to take,
and the oozing head and cerebral fluid a gory sight did make.

I fled the area with much great haste,
for the death did dampen victory's sweet taste.

Valiant Quest
12
Returning to the grotto, where I was sure,
of safety's comfort, of being secure.

Opening the chest, it was filled with many a gold coin,
all exactly like the one I had in my belt above the groin.

I carefully closed the chest of coins so many,
to be careful not to have the loss of any.

Going to the stairs, I descended in rapid stride,
but falling headfirst, wounded by my inflated pride.

I landed roughly and was stunned, not knocked out,
but I now knew what care and caution were all about.

After exiting the mountain chamber, I locked the lock,
and after throwing the key in, closed the door--shut to anyone who knocked.

#

My confidence was bubbling, my heart nearly burst,
but my over confidence almost did me in for the worst.

I happened upon a locale of much sedate pleasantry,
or so it was until an evil witch flying, dive-bombed me.

I ducked, and quickly crawled away on all fours like a mouse,
and came upon an elegant and beautiful gingerbread house.

Opening the door I entered within,
and saw a skeleton--what the witch's last meal had been.

In a puff of smoke and clap of thunder,
the witch appeared, an entrance I did awe in wonder.

"Foolish house-breaker," said she, "your life I will take,"
"and from your flesh and blood a meal I shall make."

The old hag lunged and grabbed my arm,
but then her hand burned, doing her harm.


Valiant Quest
13
"Of you I'll make bone meal dressing,"
"once expires my sister's magical blessing."

I wasted no time in running from her sight,
and ran doggedly, as fast as my legs might.

My fearful flight was interrupted upon collision,
with the wishing well, in which I fell, without any decision.

I plunged downward, and stopped with a splash,
and found myself at the well's bottom, in another mish-mash.

The sides of the well were slick, slimy stone,
and climbing out was impossible I thought with a groan.

I floated upon the surface, treading water as best I could,
but I knew I'd soon tire, and sink like floating driftwood.

Reaching the conclusion in order to stay alive,
I'd have to go down eventually, so I did dive.

I paddled to the bottom, water flowing past,
going as fast as I could, knowing my breath wouldn't last.

When I reached the dim, murky bottom I did look,
‘twas gloomy with algae, kelp, an old bottle, and a rusty fishing hook.

But along the side of the bottom, almost in disguise,
was another opening, much to me a startling surprise.

My lungs near bursting, my chest throbbed with ache,
so I swam into the opening, the only option to take.

My fortuitous fall, my serendipitous swim in the well,
took me on a promising path thought could not tell.

Swimming through the opening, I soon did emerge,
in a cavern, guarded by a dragon, a fiery scourge.

The creature's flaming breath's flames nearly scorched me,
and panic set in, I wanted to take flight and flee.

Valiant Quest
14
With nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, I had to face the wyrm,
but I realized fate would be with me, if I fought on an equal term.

Using the pilfered wooden pail,
that I had absconded from the wishing well,

I threw it and its contents at the burning beast,
dousing its fiery breath, weakening to the least.

The dragon was amazed, startled, and in awe,
and gruffly left, removing a blocking boulder with its claw.

As the great wyrm's tail, dragged beyond sight,
I saw something in the cave's corner, nearly out of sight.

I went to the part of the cave shaded as if by night,
and found a silver mirror, which in the dimness shown bright.

If taken out into the light of day,
how powerfully bright it would be I could not say.

Taking the mirror from its place,
I glanced into it and saw my face.

I looked, I was seen, and I existed,
but yet my enthrallment with it persisted.

Looking longer, I saw my hat upon my head,
but looking closer, it became a crown instead.

I knew through the mirror's power, the future I had viewed,
though it felt obvious to me the outcome was very skewed.

Yet if this was the future that I knew,
I'd lost the relishing of it coming true.

#

Shrugging off my regret and doubt,
I followed the dragon's path, the way out.


Valiant Quest
15
I came into another antechamber of the cave,
and at its other end was light--the exit I did crave.

Exiting the cavern, I felt confident and proud,
but that melted away with a whoosh and cackling so loud.

I realized from who came the wicked chuckle,
my head felt dizzy, and my knees began to buckle.

It was the witch, the good fairy's evil twin sister,
and after the last encounter, I'd hoped to have missed her.

But, as the deeper my thoughts did inquire,
I realized then the fairy's blessing had expired.

I'd have to make do on thought and wits,
or a morsel for the witch I'd become, in nibbles and bits.

I quickly dived and ducked as hastily as I could, instinctive
reflex taking over before my thoughts would.

The witch wildly swooped down, trying to nab me,
but I became paralyzed with fear, so I did not flee.

But if I had tried to run in flight,
the witch would've caught me for a meal that night.

I crawled to take shelter behind a rock,
all the while the witch swooped in like a hawk.

The witch said nothing, and soon began circling around,
hovering above me, lying low crouched to the ground.

But then in a moments thought came a sudden inspiration,
a solution for my current dilemma, answer to tribulation.

I took the dagger so sharp with its glint so sheen,
holding it with my forefinger and thumb, it between.

Taking careful, shrewd aim at the witch in flight,
I took note of her speed, direction, and height.

Valiant Quest
16
Then I let loose the blade, in a swirling throw,
and by the witch's look, what she saw she did not know.

It struck her bodily, in her heart of stone,
having penetrated her chest, ribs and bone.

She gasped a dying breath, and uttered a brief moan,
and in her amazed look at me, emitted a shrieking tone.

Then she vanished in spark of flame and fire,
and I felt relief, for my preservation I desire.

Hastily I examined the silver mirror for a crack,
but I was amazed to find in such a manner it did lack.

I had thought that surely the farm it had bought,
but my thinking was for nay and for naught.

But later, as I trekked on,
my next treasure I had to find did dawn.

#

Soon my empty-minded wanderlust to roam,
unexpectedly brought me to the woodcutter's home.

I remembered then, my promise to me, the one,
and now I know the fulfillment of it would be done.

I confidently entered the indigent couple's dwelling,
and in my breast my joy was ever so swelling.

"Hello again," the woodcutter did to me say,
"how nice of you to stop by again this day."

Upon placing the bare and empty bowl on their table,
the couple's glance and look questioned if my sanity stable.

I then spoke clearly the magic word,
and then the couple knew my intentions were not so absurd.


Valiant Quest
17
The woodcutter's wife said, "We shall not be hungry again,"
"you do not know how wanting our stomach's have been."

Then with an embrace from his wife, and shake of his hand,
I knew I had gained a great friend in the land.

I left my newly made friends in rather great haste,
for time is something of which I did not want to waste.

I chose a direction I had not yet taken,
for my destiny was there, if I was not mistaken.

My mind was so enraptured over the gift of the bowl,
that I walked into and fell down a large open hole.

I hurled down the great chasm,
and landed with a thud and lurching spasm.

I sat in a daze for many a moment,
but recovered quickly, as curiosity fate did foment.

I rose and dusted myself off,
and brightened at the new opportunity, and did not scoff.

I had fallen through into an underground grotto,
my footfalls echoed, as if my feet were a-playing staccato.

Up ahead in the gloom was a great wooden door,
behind which I felt something of destiny was in store.

I grasped the portal's hasp and pulled with all my might,
and was succinctly rewarded by another chambers sight.

I ventured within, with watchful care,
and discovered I'd found a leprechaun layer.

My fate would've been sealed directly on the spot,
if it had not been for the four-leaf clover I had got.

The leprechauns had respect for the four-leaf clover's power,
so form then I had no need to fear or to cower.

Valiant Quest
18
I wandered deeper into the place,
but had to stoop, not being of their race.

Entering a great cavern I felt a sense of whelm,
at being here in the leprechaun's underground realm.

Within the cavern a ring of leprechauns did dance,
spirited and gay, they did caper and prance.

The source of the leprechaun's joy and glee,
became obvious, for it I did see.

In the center of the circling ring,
was a fountain, a most extraordinary thing.

The leprechaun's fountain was filled without end,
and each took turns sipping, a continuous trend.

Bawdy merriment filled the ringed line,
for the leprechauns were inebriated with dark red wine.

I seized the chance at the little-men's laughter and joy,
and carefully stepped over them, they were smaller than a boy.

The leprechauns sang to the goblet, worshipping their deity,
but they did not notice me taking it in their gaiety.

I took the decanter of endless wine,
and in doing so, made it mine.

I carefully stepped out once again,
and hurriedly left, for sobering up was a matter of when.

The next chamber I entered was so little and so small,
that at the back of it was reduced to crawl.

At the back of this cave was an opening smaller than a child,
I felt trapped and doomed, terror within me ran wild.

But the carrot I had plundered from its native patch,
when I ate desperately, shrank me smaller than a match.

Valiant Quest
19
Quickly I left the cave with rapid haste,
for the time span of being small I could not waste.

I emerged from the cave not at all late,
and just then I began growing at a rapid rate.

Soon I stopped watching myself from the ground rise,
and it appeared I was back to my normal size.

The purloined chalice that I did snatch,
was with me, because of the carrot from the carrot patch.

And in my mind I suddenly intuitively knew,
that sadly my valiant quest was through.

#

Even though my noble adventure was through,
I still had one last task to do.

I had to return hence to the kingdom's lord,
and deliver up my grand treasure hoard.

With that resolve, I trod homeward to the king,
intending to give him all and everything.

When at last the king's castle came into my view,
I felt a sense of nobility, and this was true.

Upon being brought before his royal highness,
it occurred to me then he'd pulled crafty slyness.

I delivered unto him the treasure and items I had claimed,
and told him of my fear, creatures, and folly I tamed.

"Noble and valiant that you are," said the king,
"and to you are kingdom will owe everything."

From the king's lapses and gasps of breath,
I knew he was close to reaching death.


Valiant Quest
20
"Experience has been the best sage,"
"otherwise wisdom comes through age."

"You shall be king in my place,"
said the king with a solemn steely look on his face.

"Your quest had proven you fit to rule,"
"for I cannot discern the noble from the fool."

"The quest has designated you my successor,"
"for noble you are, and nothing lesser."

After placing his crown upon my head,
the king faded and vanished from sight--he was dead.

His majesty's wisdom was more great than I had known,
for my valiant quest made me a king to sit on the throne.

For now I had discovered my noble self,
that is a worth more than any material wealth.

I had the knowledge that only I could see,
my true being, and only me.

# # #

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