Wyrd & Wonder

Fantasy poems

image by Svetlana Alyuk on 123RF.com

I love poetry and some of my favorite poems have fantastical elements in them. I’m going to share a few poems that I love and feel free to recommend me some of your faves. Let’s start with a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien, I think every fantasy fan is familiar with this one:

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

I loved it from the first time I read The Fellowship of the Ring. Tolkien wrote many poems and I might eventually write a post on my fave Lord of the Rings poetry.

The Maenads by Ursula K. Le Guin

Somewhere I read
that when they finally staggered off the mountain
into some strange town, past drunk,
hoarse, half naked, blear-eyed,
blood dried under broken nails
and across young thighs,
but still jeering and joking, still trying
to dance, lurching and yelling, but falling
dead asleep by the market stalls,
sprawled helpless, flat out, then
middle-aged women,
respectable housewives,
would come and stand nightlong in the agora
silent
together
as ewes and cows in the night fields,
guarding, watching them
as their mothers
watched over them.
And no man
dared
that fierce decorum.

This poem by Ursula K. Le Guin is pretty new to me and I have yet to read any of her other work, but I love this one: the image of Maenads, followers of Dionysus, having the time of their lives and then being watched over by older women, having rituals that men don’t dare interrupt – I love that.

What if you slept by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

What if you slept
And what if
In your sleep
You dreamed
And what if
In your dream
You went to heaven
And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower
And what if
When you awoke
You had that flower in your hand
Ah, what then?

Siren song by Margaret Atwood

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:
the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls
the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.
Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?
I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical
with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.
I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song
is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique
at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

A poem with a twist by Margaret Atwood. Also the only poem of hers that I know, and this is a reminder to read more.

The Stolen Child by W.B. Yeats

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

This is just a short excerpt of a longer poem. You can read the full poem here.

And the last poem is by a Reddit poet called Poem_for_your_sprog, famous for turning reddit comments into poems. This poem was written in memory of Terry Pratchett. I absolutely love it even though I haven’t read Discworld so I don’t actually understand the references, but the poem is wonderful. The Color of Magic is on my tbr for Wyrd & Wonder, so soon I’ll enter Discworld myself.

The sun goes down upon the Ankh,
And slowly, softly fades –
Across the Drum; the Royal Bank;
The River-Gate; the Shades.

A stony circle’s closed to elves;
And here, where lines are blurred,
Between the stacks of books on shelves,
A quiet ‘Ook’ is heard.

A copper steps the city-street
On paths he’s often passed;
The final march; the final beat;
The time to rest at last.

He gives his badge a final shine,
And sadly shakes his head –
While Granny lies beneath a sign
That says: ‘I aten’t dead.’

The Luggage shifts in sleep and dreams;
It’s now. The time’s at hand.
For where it’s always night, it seems,
A timer clears of sand.

And so it is that Death arrives,
When all the time has gone…
But dreams endure, and hope survives,
And Discworld carries on.

Writing this post has made me realize how little fantasy poetry (or speculative poetry) I actually know. I should find a book of speculative poetry to read this month and if you have any recommendations, please share them in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Fantasy poems”

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