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The Good King and Faithful Knight

If I had to select one work as my favorite fantasy poem, it would be this one. There are others that might be better, but this fantasy poem is without doubt my personal favorite. It is a story of honor, loyalty, humility, and respect. To summarize, The Good King and Faithful Knight is a fantasy poem about a brave knight-warrior who has grown old, and fallen on hard times. Once a great hero who saved his king, he has accepted his unfortunate plight, the pain of old wounds, and poverty – all with humility, and the stoic outlook of a true warrior. A man, in all sense of the word, who has never forgotten his past, or his love for his king. When he hears that the king is approaching – despite his age and weakness — he still manages to struggle to the road to offer homage to his beloved king without thought of asking anything for himself. As the king passes, the king suddenly realizes who it is bowed low on the side of the road, and the deplorable condition this great knight and warrior has come to. Alighting off his horse, the king lifts the man up and honors him – and makes sure he is taken care of for the rest of his years. And when the old warrior finally dies — the king places a great stone over his grave with an inscription that shows his undying respect for his beloved subject. For me, it is an analogy of what we all owe to those who have so bravely served and sacrificed, in our military in foreign wars, and the awful plight of those veterans who fell on hard times, or became “homeless” due to the mental scars of battle. Easily, one of my best fantasy poems, and as I said before, my personal favorite.
©2011 by Jon Gutmacher
On fateful day the king rode out
to see the land
and those about
to gauge the temperament
of what He held
to survey the realm
to serve it well

And at this time
not far away
a man grew weak
no place to stay

He lived on roots
and what he could steal
for this (was)
his only way
to have a meal

Once a warrior
brave and true
T’were many an enemy
that he slew
and once he saved
his enbattled King
and fought
all who would
invade the Land

but age and times
can be quite hard
and men forget the past . . .
and youth
it does not last . . .

No place to live
no life to feel
except old wounds
that would not heal
the cold, dark nights
so empty, bleak
life passed him by
his eyes grew weak

But when he heard
the king approached
he hobbled to
the hedge, and broached
and proudly stood
to glimpse his Liege
then bowed his head
to knee

the King passed by
and then stopped dead
for something swooned
inside his head
and then reared back
His eyes looked deep
He saw the man
and had to speak

“I know you, friend
I know you well
You fought beside me
And fought like hell
You saved my life
more times than once
is this how I reward?

And then He alighted
from his stead
and joined the man
on bended knee
and raised him up
eye to eye
and stopped a tear
for Kings
don’t cry

“To you I give
a home and land
and funds enough
for you to stand
for all your days
a man of wealth
whose Liege remembers
well

And then the warrior
who once was bold
but now just tatters
and so so old
raised fist to heart
in deep salute
and looked at King
so resolute

“You do me honor
you’ve paid the debt
and for all of time
with deep respect
for when I saved you
that battled day
I knew this then
and still I say

“There never was
a better king than you
I would do it all again

And the warrior lived
the life he should
and on his grave
this inscription stood:

He served thru life
A grateful king
who never
will forget

The image is “The Fallen Warrior” by Scott Black, and can be found at http://www.redbubble.com/people/scottb1977. The actual image has more context, is more robust, and more moving – but was trimmed for the purpose of the poem. Other works of the artist are displayed on the website, and are absolutely excellent.
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