He sat at a rough-hewn table
in the first warmth of breaking day,
before him the few instruments
of his craft which could enable
many to see through his eyes, say
with his thoughts rousing testaments
of right and wrong, fact or fable,
cowards nee heroes of a fray
where men fled wisdom's investments.
Plume and ink, as oft as the sword,
had changed outcomes, scribal hands
embellishing facts here and there,
omitting the useless, untoward
events, unhelpful where commands
of liege lords prejudged the affair,
ordered, for political concord,
pseudo-history. Far away lands,
allies, need not everything share.
But he was not to his master
like a mindless quill in the hand,
flowing new pathways on parchment,
separate from fame or disaster.
He would have the future understand
his personal acknowledgment
of pure Justice tracing, faster
than time's measure of falling sand,
details of each man's own judgment,
where kingly commands are hearsay,
men's choices alone, revealing
purity of heart or its lack.
Personal honor...the nosegay
of fools if kings plan concealing
their evil, or the surprise attack
on a defenseless city...may
demand that which denies healing;
treason requires death on the rack.
What more dared a man ask? To die
well once, or compromise to live
long, intending to do better?
Impossible, fruitless to try
to bargain that destiny give
more, not keeping the law's letter
if others in their anguish cry.
Time flows through it, but virtue's sieve
garners good deeds by its fetter.
Life is not fuel to be burned
down to empty by the tankful,
its joy derived from consumption.
It's a name waiting to be earned,
an unique act that the thankful
commit without the presumption
of wages, a moment discerned
more valuable than a bank full
of wealth made by grit and gumption.
One 'no' to a king, to this place
and the morning to be his last,
had conveyed him without regret.
Bemused at the manner that Grace
had chosen to usher him past
things about which others must fret,
determined the smile on his face
be his resurrection forecast,
on the rack, he had his eyes set.