We should not love a castle, but we do;
we place ourselves within its keep, not where
we’d really stand. For thousands, not a few,
the parapets were meant to strip you bare.
Sweet the rhyme and full of grace,
sunshine of my lady’s face.
We love the castle for its inner view,
the safe and privileged place we dream to share,
Its bridge down, pennants fluttering; for who
thinks of self Welsh or Saracen, not heir?
Sweet the song and clear the skies
Radiant as my lady’s eyes
This crumbling stone machine was not meant to
welcome you in; its gatehouse disrepair
belies intended gore. You’d be shot through
before you set a foot inside the square.
Sweet the song, its notes are pure
my lady slept this night secure
The escalades and walks were not for you.
You never saw the glass and silver-ware,
the neat stone well, the chapel doloroux;
For you was not the heraldry fanfare.
Sun rose, day came like a shout
horns blew and my lord rode out
We love a castle most if once we knew
some private bed behind a portiere;
beau idéal of one throne sized for two,
inside love’s wall, secure, belonging there.
Such a prize at such high cost
Night came and my lady’s lost
I stand outside. A castle’s function true
was blood and guard; look up to your despair.
To each walled heart, we’re all the wandering Jew;
Limestone and granite sing you solitaire.
Sweet the tune yet tinged with rue
tears as rain, my lady’s due
Sweet the song though sad the air
Qui veult vit sans aucun espère?
(Ruth Johnston, 2013)