The Swordsman Recalls His Whetting Song

it is addressed thusly:
A song.
it reads:
The heart of the matter is this
For he who desires of bliss
Of peace, of joy and of life
He must muster a will for strife
The pain of despair and of hell
Of stress and the mind unwell
For in each the pride may lie
For in each it too may die.


The Swordsman's Thought Before First Steel

it is addressed thusly:
A thought.
it reads:
Ahead the eyes as bright as flames
My breast now beats as war's own drums
I wonder now what be their names
But lo! The contest comes.


The Echo

it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
The beauty of a moment
Is drawn out in its echo
For the echo is not a repeat
But the moment as it is drawn
Into the fabric of the world
With all unrepeatable things
As remembered imperfectly
Making their only moment
All the more perfect in its time
And the future is more beautiful
And the past is more sublime
And the present is most kinetic.


The Swordsman Speaks of His Many Injuries

it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
A scar here across my chest
A broken toe, a crushed knee
A bruise for each of the rest
Hands both maimed as oft may be
What may I say of these
That you may understand?
Were they mere disease
A blight upon a weary land?
So says the eye that looks
But does not see the heart
This be knowledge not of books
Not true science, nor true art
Since you I would not harm
I then must as silently
Hold high a brazen arm
And wordless, bear iniquity.


The Sage Considers a Thought of Death

it is addressed thusly:
A song.
it reads:
Sang the man, "Tis my thought of death
This a strange, unworldly breath
Though time come and make me old
Though old Winter chill me cold
Time and times may come again
The world a never ending end;
Death is dead! I'll have not lied
For when like old death I have died
I shall make something of this life
And scoff the old man for his strife
And though I be, what I have been
I shall never be again.


Origen's Conundrum

it reads:
Before I was, was I
Within you, and had the
glory as you have worn
In this vision? But in this vision
Does the instead future lie
Behind; as were a memory
Of tomorrow's morn?


The Poet had Nine Verses Writ for His Love

it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
Shall I compare your heart to a precious emerald?
But yours can't be bought, or bartered or sold;
Shall I say your love's a red, red rose?
Yours is no mere symbol, heaven knows;
Shall I call your touch a spring's warm breeze?
But you remain gentle, while Winter does freeze;
And while a poem may redeem the time
And truth has been colored by clever rhyme
Your love is what it is, and none of these.


The Winter-oak

it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
The winter-oak, whose arms
Cleft the cold sky, somnolent, slow
Growing into old age, gnarled, gray
Dappled with weather and drawn out long
His years each a rind, a skin further
Toward the waiting sun and clouds
Gathering now, and dispersing
Swirling like breath and flame
Hot, cold, indifferent, light, dark
Each passing leaving its mark
And though the philosophers say
They are unmoved, and endure
Yet to my eye, these elements
Are inconstant and shift without ceasing
Against the waiting winter-oak.


Wachet Auf

it is addressed thusly:
A vision.
it reads:
This was my dream, One was dreaming
And the dreamer who dreamed was I,
The one whom he dreamed was seeming
To be cast from the self-same die;

But his form was that of a figure
And he seemed but a shadow in depth
I could hardly make out any feature
For he shifted like midwinter's breath;

And I wondered at what he was seeing
And how I could see what he saw
For who knows the depths of a being
And who sees his inward law?

And the one whom he saw was awaking
At this we both made a start,
And held our breath, we were waiting
For the veil itself to depart;

But the one whom he saw was but starting
At some inward turbulent thought,
And the mist and shade slowly parting
As though by cataracts caught;

I considered then what was the meaning
Of all of this then which I saw?
He whom I saw too was gleaning
From his vision an inward law;

And he who slept was all-gleaming
And in his dream he uttered a cry:
"In this my dream, One is dreaming
And the dreamer who dreams is I!"


The Sage Contemplates Winter

it reads:
Though frost seems permanence,
The cold like the tomb
And the chill in a man's bones
Can only leave soon
And the vastness of the abyss
Is still like a glacier
Everlasting dark it seems
An eyeless embrasure
The way of things is not thus
Not thus as we think
For in the landing snowflake
Upon the eye to blink
We see the length of winter
A many-chambered thing
To melt away in moments,
To pass away in spring.