Steel cased in stone. By harsh daylight
It had resisted all the might
Of every squire and every man
Who did what merely muscle can.
But now upheld for all to see:
The people cheer. Knights shake their head.
Will Arthur dare take Uther’s stead?
The mighty Barons standing near
Don’t bother to withhold a sneer.
“Whoever pulls me from the stone
Wins for himself this kingdom’s thone!”
This epigram in letters clear
Around the stone in gold appear.
The kingdom’s throne of which they spoke
Presages anarchy which broke
Out soon as one that sword held high.
King Arthur will his foes defy!
Quick Merlin hastens to his side
To whisper warning. Woe betide
Unwary kings! King Uther’s dead:
A still corpse on its chapel bed
To soon rest ‘neath layers of stone.
Not long had he resigned the throne –
His corpse is hardly buried when
A civil war explodes again.
The new King Arthur cries “To me!”
An awkward pause. Then suddenly
Threescore well armed and valiant men
Surge forwards in a group to then
Stand Arthur’s guard, ring him around
With drawn blades. Within that ground
He stands secure from attack.
The Barons and their knights forced back.
For now discretion trumps valour:
There’s time enough soon to wage war.
“The castle!” King Arthur commands.
A passage forced by armoured hands
Through yelling crowds they make a way
And Arthur is crowned king that day.
The commons cheer. The Barons curse.
Things quickly change from bad to worse.
Though none openly oppose him yet
The Barons will make good their threat
To replace Arthur with their own
Compliant weakling on the throne.
All call up men and fashion arms
Ready to answer war’s alarms.
For now, the King upon the throne
Prepares to face down rebellion.
The sage Merlin is by his side
To council him whate’er betide.
A silence settles on the land.
As though a storm were near at hand –
A tempest come, about to fall
Upon the kingdom. On them all!
The King’s levies assemble first.
King Arthur soon expects the worst.
Should he march south? Or march up north?
Which enemy will first come forth?
He gave his future to the fates.
King Arthur watched. King Arthur waits.