Index Picture, left
Index Picture, right

Midnight Castle

By: Paul Spooner
Released by the author to the public domain

This is a poem I wrote during the summer of 2005 for my then-girlfriend. We later broke up, though probably not over this poem specifically. Honestly, I wasn't even aware that we were dating in the first place. Anyway, here's an ostensibly romantic long-form poem. I've also set the poem to music with

Midnight Castle

Crumbling craggy granite overhangs the restless sea.
Wet with mist and spray and fog, desiring grass or tree.
Somber black and slimy stone offends the naked eye.
Surf assaults the lonely rock; seagulls wheel and cry.

Grasping crooked fissures and its towers leaping high
Shooting narrow bridges cross the gorge beneath the sky
Woven in the midnight granite, ruling stormy seas
Stonework wreathed in shadow sprawls; welling with disease.

Gate of solid mountain oak and crossbars made of steel
Ever climbing buttresses with apogee surreal
Figures in the foggy twilight pace the lofty walls
Windows glow with crimson light; from infernal halls

Perched upon a balcony above the flying foam,
Searching from the shadow of her frigid dusky home,
Maiden sits with regal bearing looking to the waves,
Tremble in her quiet breath; sentiment betrays.

Silver locket sparkles as she holds it to her breast
Carrying a crimson lion as the only crest
Out upon the swell approaching swiftly as the night
Sails boast the ruddy beast; blazoned on the white.

Prow defeats the surging waves as storm clouds gather near,
Wind flings up a wispy curtain formed of ocean's tears,
Cries from far above her on the battlements declare,
More than just the princess see; all are now aware.

Captains call for archers as they spy the lonely craft,
Rustle in each archer's quiver lends a single shaft,
Now the mists enfold the castle deadening the sight,
Mist of twilight hides the boat; guarded by the night.

Wind decries the mad affair and raindrops sting the face,
Sea now roars and hisses at the flinty castle's base,
Flavoring the air, the smell of salt ascends the wall,
Soaked and slick the men still gaze; peering through the pall.

Many call for torches but the fog protects the night,
Bathing all the battlements in wan and jaundiced light,
Every eye is fixed upon the ramp from dock to gate,
Arrows nocked and archers shift; long and anxious wait.

Flash of lightning outlines armored figure on the grade,
Just as soon is swallowed up by building storm's cascade,
Arrows whistle vainly as their mark's concealed once more,
Swordsmen clatter down the steps; heading to the door.

Now the shadow of a man grows clearer through the spray,
Torches thrown upon the road make mockery of day,
For a moment in the dark the clouds draw back to show,
Single figure clad in stone; glinting in the glow.

Arrows swarm like locusts in a black and buzzing cloud,
Glancing powerless upon the shining crystal shroud,
Now he breaks into a run as arrows fall around,
Road grows tufted with the shafts, driving in the ground.

But his path is now arrested by the oaken doors,
Standing firm against the ages of infernal wars,
Halting for a moment in the shadow of the stone,
Silently considers this; thoughts and plans unknown.

Then with mighty strokes that shiver timbers all to shreds,
Flaming sword assaults the portal, splinters far he spreads,
Wading through the wreckage he advances toward the troops,
Turning from his wrathful gaze, fleeing him in groups.

Entering the courtyard now the figure casts about,
Lending no attention to the fearful fleeing rout,
Choosing his direction he begins to run again,
Pounding down the torch-lit halls; toward the sanguine den.

Words can not portray the horror of the demon's lair,
Language falters faced with bile and bones and gore and hair,
Squatted ever leering on his self-made throne of death,
Principality of doom; Steals away the breath.

Shouting to implore the mighty God who will not fail,
Standing on the threshold while the demon's light grows pale,
Armored figure stretches out his blade toward demon's heart,
Fissures split the stone worked walls; mortar melts apart.

Demon flies to kill the man who would destroy his home,
Caught mid-flight the demon's crushed beneath the falling dome,
Fetid vapors rush out in a roaring sudden blast,
Figure turns from ruined hall; demon dead at last.

Searching through the dungeons and the towers high above,
Seeking out the cell where he can find his mourning love,
Weeping on her balcony she shuns the light of dawn,
Fearing he has been destroyed; by the demon's brawn.

Now resounding in the corridor she hears a sound,
Splintered boards and beams are clattering onto the ground,
Closer comes the terror and she hazards what portend,
Standing on the balcony; bracing for the end.

Flashing steel defeats the door and darkness greets her sight,
Hidden in the corridor in shadows dark as night,
Then a joyous voice cries out, beckoning her name,
Armored figure steps within, gesturing the same.

Tromping through the passages beneath the towers high

Crossing narrow bridges over gorge beneath the sky
Fleeing from the midnight granite to the stormy seas
Stonework wreathed in shadow falls; crumbling to its knees.

Crumbling craggy granite overhangs the restless sea.
Wet with mist and spray and fog, desiring grass or tree.
Somber black and slimy stone offends the naked eye.
Vessel flees lonely rock; seagulls wheel and cry.

Authors Commentary

On re-reading this, I'm torn between being really pleased with the poetry in some places, and rather disapointed in others. I was 21 at the time, so there's no excuse for youth. Still though, I'm not sure how I would improve it, save by punching up the pacing.

I'm really happy to finally have illustrations for this poem, courtesy of Midjourney. The AI took a lot of license with the scenes, and I don't think it appreciates my poetry. I'm planning to do a reading of this poem, set to the images, but we'll see how long that takes.

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