Monthly Archives: May 2012

Magic Swords

Long ago, I fancied myself something of a poet of the fantastic in the mode of Clark Ashton Smith, and I wrote a few fantasy poems.  There was no place to publish them back then, or if there was, I didn’t know about it, so I wrote them and tucked them away with other manuscripts.  Going through boxes tonight, I found these two.  The first ties into my lifelong interest in King Arthur–I identify with Gawain in that cycle, but have always had a great interest in Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot, Kay, Balin, Tristram and other knights in the saga.  The second ties into the earliest beginning of Tunnels and Trolls, and my fascination with the word: Shancinar, which came to be associated with elvish homelands in Trollworld.  I had some fancy formatting for when I wrote out the Arthurian poem, since I believed that the form of the poem was almost as important as the words, but WordPress won’t let me easily duplicate that without some html that I don’t know, so all you get is the words.  I wrote these two poems myself, sometime in the early to mid 1970s.

Arthurian Legend as Science Fiction

And it hung there

Half sunken in a block of stone

Awaiting the one starry-eyed urchin from the wild

Who alone

Could liberate it to flourish in the cheer-filled air.


And the young king,

With enchanted blade and dauntless hope,

Turned to his task, restoration of a troubled planet,

Forging peace with sword blows . . .

No small thing.


And there were strange

Beings, events, legends, mysteries.

Meet them with courage, Arthur.

Fear not the green-haired and the fey

That lead you into danger.


Arthur, leader of true

Knights, men, ladies, humanity–

You put down, stamp out the false and alien

Giants, trolls, dragons, witch-dealers of insanity.

And glory grew!


I love wordplay.  I especially like exotic poetic forms.  The sestina is pretty exotic and forced.  I tried my hand at creating some a couple of times.  I thought fantasy would go well with the sestina.

The Song of Shancinar (a sestina)

The sword called Shancinar

Was brought to the tower,

Black spire of the white moon,

From sea-bottom bed far,

To save elfin power,

Or so goes the old tune.


The war harps played their tune,

War-song of Shancinar,

While trolls in their power

Attacked the old tower,

And beast-things from all far

Places howled at the moon.


Then the ears of the moon

Heard that high and strange tune

That the Elves sang so far,

War-song of Shancinar,

Defending the tower

With sorcerous power.


Well seen was its power

By the sons of the moon.

Beneath the black tower

Rang the terrible tune

Of sea-sword Shancinar

That had come from afar.


The earth spirits ran far

To flee the sword’s power.

They all feared Shancinar!

Storm clouds hid the sad moon,

The wind played a death tune

Around the black tower.


The trolls fled the tower

And scattered to caves far

Away from the death tune.

Broken was Troll power,

Strong sons of earth and moon

Could not face Shancinar.



The grim tune of Shancinar

Neath white moon had power

To slay far from tower.


Well, it’s doggerel, but it preshadowed my idea that Shancinar was connected to the Elves in some way.  I had fun writing it back when I was a young and foolish poet as opposed to now when I’m an old and foolish poet, and perhaps if you read it aloud and revel in the absurdity and repetitions of the rhymes, you’ll get a smile out of it too.


If you ever wrote fantastic doggerel, go ahead and leave a comment. In rhyme, please.

–Ken St. Andre