The Ballad of Godwin

I must confess to having a love for medieval literature. One particular section of medieval literature for which I have particular fascination is the medieval ballad. A genre that is formulaic, sing song-y, ridiculously rhymed, absolutely cheesy, and borderline preachy. A genre not to be taken seriously, but as serious as all the world. This simple, enigmatic world of knights and swords has enraptured me. Thus I have decided to present to you my very own Ballad. To give the casual reader fair warning, I will most likely bungle my ballad. But as the brilliant Briton G.K. Chesterton once said, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly”

The Ballad of Godwin

Good Godwin sat upon his steed
His armor glinting shone
His heart intent upon his deed
He must complete alone

Commissioned by his Sovereign lord
To ride to Wondrous Gard
The lawless road, fraught with discord
Was his grim boulevard

The road which lay between Godwin
And Wondrous Gard, his goal
Was filled with troubled, violent men
Corrupt and black of soul

But Godwin was not faint of heart
For fear he did not heed
The good knight boldly did depart

He must fulfill his deed.

With thund’rous hooves upon the stone
He set upon his quest
He flew through tangled woods alone
All at the King’s behest

Sir Godwin galloped ’till evening
Took respite by a well
But promptly on the morning’s gleam
He could not long there dwell

But hark! Upon a nearby hill
There stood a figure grim
The solitary figure still
Loomed silently and dim

“Who are you?” Called the specter dark
His voice was cruel, and harsh
“What is your purpose?” came the bark
It bellowed in the marsh

“My name is Godwin” merrily
sung forth our noble man
“My purpose: follow that which he
my Sovereign did command”

But one more vocal volley boomed
with cruel and ill intent
the dread figure that mounted loomed
on trouble, he was bent

“Sir Godwin I cannot abide
your passage through this land
Your sovereign lord I do defy
his rule, I cannot stand

“To rule over another soul
is greatest of all sin
Morality is no control
of man, or of person

“So brace yourself to meet my lance
for I cannot abide
to let a King’s man here advance
you shall not reach my side”

Proud Godwin and the dread knight both
then reached for lance and shield
and galloped fast, wond’rously wroth
To clash upon that field

The dread knight’s lance did not withstand
the shield of good Godwin
his splintered husk of wood in hand
the dread knight knew doomed him

For Godwin’s lance had struck him hard
full squarely in the chest
And off his charger flew the knight
of victory, divest

And there upon the ground he lay
the grim and dreadful knight
there his body was to stay
Good Godwin won the fight

“Why do you still follow your lord?”
The fallen knight exclaimed
“You could be great on your accord
if you your king disclaim”

The good Godwin, was not convinced
but spoke with true pity
“To serve my king in deference
Is what was meant to be”

“While in submission I do serve
my sovereign with my might
To bend my will may seem absurd
But trust me, it is right

“To bend the will destroys the pride
which vexes man to strife
This vein of Godly suicide
will end our prideful life”

When such admonishments did cease
Sir Godwin then declared
“Grim Knight go make to God your peace
and tell my King what fared”

The Grim Knight left, his pride thus marred
And Godwin galloped on
For he must ride to Wondrous Gard
Do what he’d undergone

He rode until the close of day
when weary rested he
he found his restful place to stay
inside a warm abbey

But on the morn he rode again
to journey on his quest
To Wondrous Gard he must begin
to do his King’s request

He worked his charger fast and hard
far well into the day
But as before, he stopped his charge
for something blocked his way

Two ruffians beset a man
collapsed beside the road
Malice in eye and sword in hand
they sought to steal his load

Sir Godwin’s heart was filled with pain
to see such blatant strife
such cruelty filled him with disdain
Iniquity was rife

He rode into the fearsome fray
This he could not abide
for he would not pass on his way
he took the beaten’s side

“Why do you stop our daily deed”
the first knave questioned fast
“we have not paid you any heed
and want that peace to last”

“You beat a helpless man for sport
and steal his property,
you loathesome fools” he did retort
“I shall not leave you be”

But off his horse did Godwin go
to stand on equal ground
For eye to eye he faced his foe
to honor he was bound

But honor to these knavish men
was far from their cold minds
for both soon set upon Godwin
with “honor” far behind

This fearsome duo drew their swords
and beat upon our knight
Their blows which struck with one accord
were filled with wrath and might

But Godwin’s shield held strong and firm
against the fierce onslaught
with dolorous strokes from Godwin’s arm
was proper justice wrought.

The first man’s blade was cleaved in twain
by Godwin’s mighty blows
The second lost his sword the same
Godwin disarmed his foes

The pair of theives did quake in fright
their plans had gone awry
They saw that Godwin won the fight
The first knave shouted “Fie!

Good sir your sword is strong and keen
we see your knightly might
But why do you now intervene
What could give you the right?

You call upon morality
to justify your charge
but look at the reality
before to us you barge

This man who you so quickly save
is not what he appears
This lowly cunning meddlesome knave
we’ve hunted for some years

He doomed himself with his own tongue
By spreading slanderous lies
His insults on our minds have hung
and rest not till he dies

He called us heartless, slovenly men
who are unfit to breathe
He insults me and all my kin
His life he soon shall leave

For this justice you hold so dear
for your “morality”
Withhold your sword from both us here
and leave us verily!”

Sir Godwin heard the desperate plea
and grimaced at the thought
What seemed to be a robbery
Was vengeance being fought

But Godwin this could not abide
He wisely did respond
“Confuse not honor with your pride”
He they did reprimand

“For Vengeance is a dang’rous game
which you ought not partake
For death brings death upon your name
a cruel relentless snake

The snake of vengeance slithers vile
its poison sinks too deep
To kill this man will further rile
his kin this grudge to keep

And when they come to slay you two
your sin will quickly break
your family when they avenge you
to satisfy their hate

As more and more are thrown upon
your cruel altar of pride
your vengeance’s meaning will be gone
and changed with hatred’s hide

It is your part to forgive he
who trampled your good name
Give love to slander diligently
Go back the way you came

To forgive wrong is not the part
of cowards, weak of will
to forgive wrong will test the heart
more than the strongest steel

While insult he did give to you
which broke your honor’s cord
This vengeance is not yours to do
But rests true in the Lord”

These warnings fell upon deaf ears
for numb were both the men
Their hunt for vengeance all these years
had to truth blinded them.

But unrepentant souls do not
equate to tempered steel
no matter how calloused their lot
They had to turn their heel

They trudged away, disheartened by
their sound and clear defeat
Their vengeance was soundly denied
But they retained conceit

While Godwin did not save the men
enslaved by vengeful hate
The cause of truth he did defend
And saved the weak man’s fate

“Your careless word has caused much strife
and almost was your end
do not with slander rule your life
those wounds are hard to mend”

The hapless slander’r quickly stood
and seized his scattered load
he scampered off, with all he could
muster to clear the road.

Unthanked, ignored, a watching man
Good Godwin stood quite still
His lot was not in glory’s plan
A man of principle

Immediate fruits he was denied
the world is quite uncouth
His true reward was in his ride
and fighting hard for truth

Like Godwin we must worry not
about our thanks or gain
but in to God throw our fate’s lot
for service, suffer pain

To join with Godwin on his quest
to ride to Wondrous Gard
We must of pride to be divest
and vengeance to discard

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One thought on “The Ballad of Godwin

  1. theculturegirl March 3, 2013 / 11:43 AM

    Great post and great ballad, it must have been challenging to write, it’s not something I would attempt in a hurry! It’s very impressive though.

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