Honour and Duty

Mercy and Might bore two righteous sons,
Honour and Duty were twins – close from birth,
Copied their mother before they could walk,
Followed their father before they could run.

But quickly a schism set in.
For Honour would serve for prestige and acclaim,
While Duty internalised much of the same,
And took his own pride in the deeds and the valour.

Both knew what it meant to be true,
With a grandiose debt to be paid,
They rendered their rates to the sick and the poor,
And by brawn, they ended their reckless abuse.

With each new quest and task thus complete,
Honour would bask in the praise and delight,
As Duty’s retreat – ceded the night,
Off to sharpen his imperfect ways.

Finally stood at the peak of the mount,
With blade in hand and cuirass held on firm,
Confronted their ultimate foe: a fiend;
Ghastliest of all, the demon of drought.

The battle was fierce as the demon attacked,
They channelled their father who lent them his power,
So fought on they did, hour after hour.
Remembering mother, when wanting to falter.

They parried and struck through the nights and the days,
Until exhausted – the last blow was true.
Begging for quarter, the demon did plead,
If only they be allowed to part ways.

Parading him first, they thought to accept,
Where Honour noticed the mood of the crowd,
Baying for blood that the deal disallowed,
But Duty had noticed it too.

Honour acceded with a swing of his blade,
Though he was stopped just short of the mark,
Duty, still tied by the weight of his word,
Demanded the killing be stayed.

Honour knew he could not best him alone,
So appealed to the crowd to give in,
Although they relented on this single whim,
The fated result was well known to both.

Honour would stay – be made hero of men,
While Duty would leave – build a hall on the mount,
And train with any who might follow his path,
To leave Honour; the champion of all who remained.


Mercy did have a sister, Wisdom by name,
Her senior in years, and ancient in sight,
But lesser in stature, and poorer in fame.
Thus lacking the wealth of a patron like Might.

Hers was a journey, as patient beholder,
Saw the fools about her, and thought them quaint,
Their problems; a weight she felt she could shoulder,
So as travelling sage, she found her new taste.

The squirrel misplacing his acorns,
The mole who had lost his way,
The cockerel who kept on forgetting the morn,
And the whale who was trapped in the bay.

Leaves on the trees, in search of the sun,
And so too the roots; entangled,
The idle-most river, refusing to run,
All of these things she could handle.

An affair of the moon would give her more grief,
A long-running feud with the sun over rule,
They spoiled for a fight, and broke her belief,
So feuding she left them – that they be the fools.

After all this, the matters of man
Could be nought but a bore,
So she opened her court to all of the land,
And to all who would come, she gave them her law.

Disciples thus flocked to hear of her ways,
But soon were rebuked, and sent on their own,
No school and no book could replace all those days,
To encounter and see all there is to be known.

A warning to those who get lost on her path,
Stay true, but be careful – don’t dally,
For even Wisdom in the midst of her dash,
Could still find time to marry.


Bread baskets full, and a river of wine,
And gentle winds in a verdant garden,
Thus was the bed for young Mercy divined,
Under soft, fluffy clouds of a tender sky.

Her gifts were many, and given with joy,
For any whose pride could be ignored,
She always had a seat at her table,
For many friends more than worries afford.

But soon it was her – whose pantry laid bare,
Hers was an ask that none would ignore,
Yet even then she would not cease her care,
To any who asked, or spun her a yarn.

So bereft once more, she found herself starved,
Without a friend to meet her trust in kind.
With nothing left to give, she departed,
To bequeath her kindness, to any who she’d find.

She’d heard the tales of a most tortured soul,
Lost in the depths of a cavernous mine,
One of his making – in lost hopes to be whole,
Led astray by the promise of his trial.

From the first meeting of their gaze,
He knew that she was a gift, and she, though weak;
Gave his mind rest – and quieted his ache:
Put the light in his dawn, made his evenings less bleak.

His blade was tempered, molten metal quenched,
And for her, though she’d deny it:
A pail over her wants, and cease in her mention,
Of the need to help every stranger who asks.

Might brought her temperance, clarity of view,
As Mercy gave him a purpose, and one
Suitably noble – to channel his strength,
To her worthy ends, with impediments gone.

The fools at her altar will fall to deceit,
Or sacrifice all, without heed of the cost.
Her wisdom needs power to meet;
And power has no time for a bleeding heart.


In the beginning, there was Might,
Who swept the plains with his great hand,
Laid low all who rose – forced them to bow,
With a foot on the neck,
Of his destiny: grand.

Fire was his blood, and fury his cloak.
As blood was his tribute,
But in gold, he did soak,
To scrub away his days.

He tired of his lot,
Grew bored of his bed,
So the new must be sought,
To quench the inferno;
That raged in his head.

Mother nature thus felt his wrath,
He swung wide, and with power,
So mountains were felled,
With each swing of his hammer.

Her children and form were counted,
Kept as trophy to adorn,
His halls and keep,
Fit for a conqueror who’d left,
Only the sky to mourn.

Atop the world he strode,
Left ravenous by his meal,
Disdainful of his new abode,
His finely fitted; gilded cage.

Faster than the spoils were won,
He burned them all with glee,
He smashed and shattered every stone,
To hear the din just one last time,
His beloved melody.

There’s power in those walls,
With rage and love to match,
From which every lord and soldier rolls,
A fragment in their hand.

His altar is a window,
Into the hearts of lofty men,
Or any seeking more,
By blade or brawl,
You’ll know him, only then.

The Temporal Peak

He must be neither shy, nor meek,
At the temporal peak,
Always alert, ever bold,
Never to be bought or sold.

He must either cloak himself in gold,
Or adopt the commoner’s mould,
Never to be outshone,
Or willingly, by everyone.

For, though his duty is to none,
He is yet the nation’s son,
Both the master, and the servant,
To neither role unobservant.

Ever to his people and state – fervent,
To build and keep his garden – verdant,
Seeing off every foot of misplaced callous,
As eagerly as he glares off those of malice.

Staving off the crowd’s madness,
And denying their desired poison chalice,
He must honour first his station,
Then tradition, and the nation,

He shall have no other fixation,
On foreign folk, or derivation,
But stay true to his task,
In only just confidence – bask.

With truest virtue as his mask,
And higher prodigy none could ask,
He will suffer not from want’s taint,
Nor be bound by arrogant constraint.

Rising above petty ideologies – quaint,
Resisting its hegemonic smearing paint,
No, he will extract only the true and best,
To guide the state upon its quest.

He shall take as company, and gracious guest,
Scholars, artists, merchants, and from them wrest,
The counsel from both high and meek,
To gain the virtue and harmony we seek.

Duty to Below

What does it mean to embody:
Not just the good or great,
But the best of our nation’s body,
And what must be your rightful weight?

To be a lion among beasts,
And ever live in truth,
To enjoy its just feast,
Rightly proud and aloof.

To covet only your own,
And offer as generous gratuity,
The spoils that would drown,
Any challenge to your fortuity.

You shall not break nor undermine,
Nor curse, nor seek to escape,
The gifts of providence divine,
And flee to decadence’s drape.

Venerate and maintain the old,
Eschew the easy new,
Even when it’s easily sold,
And its reason hides from view.

Be first to take the blow,
When fortune seems to fade,
For in these times you are to sow;
The loyalty that will be repaid.

Watch over your folk and people,
Those whom on you, rely,
And set for them an example,
That none would want deny.

Though none may claim your toil,
And few can easily compare,
There ever waits a vicious foil,
Of selfish wants, and demagogic flare.

Let virtue be your shield,
And duty your restless blade,
Regardless the burden to wield,
And the darkness into which you wade.

Though all about you may lie,
Those who trod the path and fell,
Indeed you will pass them by,
Pay both respect and farewell.

In that moment, two ideas will come:
You may think yourself their better,
And marvel at what you may become,
But remember, you’re the debtor:

It’s their path that you now tread,
Paid in blood, and sweat, and treasure,
Others will continue, after you are dead,
So slump not into unearned leisure.

You stand on the shoulders of giants,
With a duty you must see through:
Not just a pride or posterity, reliant,
But the whole world, stands on you.

Duty to Above

In humility there is liberation,
For those who are normal,
Whom fame is not their station,
And whose legacy is mortal.

But yours is the most core,
Most esteemed and most dear,
Most vital of tasks, which sits at your door,
To bring forth your courage, and abolish your fear.

You man the great walls,
And bear most of the brunt,
For our national spirit’s halls,
To allow us respite from the front.

But while you are indeed the guard,
So too are you the prize,
It’s for the nation you’re bruised and scarred,
Yet it’s within you, the nation lies.

But heed not the extant conceit,
That yours should be the will unbound,
For in that path lies virtue’s defeat,
When each man thinks his head crowned.

However, do not expect a life austere,
For yours is the sweetest gift,
In exchange for a risk most dear:
You are released from painful thrift.

Enjoy any desired delight,
And worry not on the cost,
While your means may be finite,
Patron’s joy flees with retainers lost.

Do not mistake liberty for assent,
Though you may be able,
In all ways you are shaped and bent,
And a nation of vice, is a nation unstable.

So man the boundaries,
Man the walls,
Man the foundries,
Heed the homeward call.

Guardian of your homesteads,
Custodian of future descent,
Proud beneficiary of culture’s threads,
With humility’s gift, stalwart and unbent.

The Wasted Hero

Here you are, stuck in a cell.
Your tale is often tragic,
But not one you’re shy to tell;
If only it were magic,
We may not need that tiny hell.

In millenia past you,
Grasping blade or mighty axe,
Would find a tree or man to hue,
And glory from the worthy act,
But always to your nature true.

In centuries past, with glee,
Land and acclaim found you fit,
Though more for fidelity,
Than need of skulls to be split,
But you remained a mighty tree.

Even in mere decades past,
Order could be made your call:
When justice wants for action; fast,
To keep in place, unruly thrall,
With one final spell to cast.

So, legionnaire, here you are, bound,
With the goths all about you,
Blind and deaf Rome, all around,
Assured by their righteous view,
That their past is mere book-bound.

And though you are left to waste
While your skills are seen as curse,
It’s all the worse in this case,
Our requiem is set in verse,
Inscribed upon the plan we chased.

The Great Tale

We’ve always had our tales we tell ourselves,
And each other when the time was right, but
Never had our story been one that tells
Only to engorge, in ever greater glut.

Our tale was survival once, when needed.
Protect thy kin, and scorn all other folk.
It kept them safe in wholesome bond, but dread
Would make the merchants cry out and choke.

Our tale made room for holy unity.
Brothers bound in common faith and creed,
All the greater shame that they could not see,
How it fed the want, of power and greed.

And thus a path was set upon, which
Through no intent of its adherents,
Would give a few the means to twist and bewitch
From the right path, to blind incoherence.

The faith was made a mighty bulwark,
A wall to break the tidal wave of foes.
A watcher in the night. Eyes in the dark.
A warning to hubris – of just how little he knows.

Soon their faith was fashioned into a blade.
The vital strength of unified will,
Recovering – with a hand that wouldn’t be stayed,
Lost land and blood, but savouring the thrill.

But such a union could never last.
Its confined sense was much too narrow,
And yet its scope was much too vast.
So found its match on a heretic’s gallow.

Our story thus became nation once more,
But this, one of tongue, and land, and taste:
Less on which a state need draw,
To cast the net wide, for the trials to be faced.

It had designs, and schemes, and plans, you see.
Coveting land and sea and endless sky,
The toll in blood required, and given with glee,
By men whose lives and wives must pass them by.

Only the power of home and kin could spur,
Even the basest of worldly men,
To acts of glory which might kill or cure,
And thus drag men from their cosy den.

And only when the heroes were spent,
The reluctant followed them, close behind,
Their young before their time were sent.
And finally the great end was divined.

No more caste, nor creed, nor folk or home,
Just one great mass of ‘human’ grey goo,
Its permutations a fleeting foam.
Always in search of the shiny and new.

To consume is their reason to be,
Trapped by each new day’s dawning,
In the emptiness they feel but cannot see,
The shallow crass of this newest story.

They know of what could be, of what we were.
The heights that might be reached, if our story lends us vigour.
Not to leech, nor bleed, nor blur.
But gives us a home, that we may dream bigger.

The Other Story

You won’t hear my story,
It’s full of hope and glory.
You were raised on tales of woe and waste –
Of bullets faced and freedom chased.
So what of those who loved the war?
Gazed upon the raw force and asked for more.

You talk of the donkey,
And yes, stubborn was he,
But loyal, honourable to a fault,
Caring and uncaring of bullets made to halt,
In the face of will and noblesse oblige,
Beyond the realm of death’s strive.

The reaper took his due and more,
But life is never clearer than at his door.
When men are brothers in truth,
And women: valkyries who dain to stoop
In blood and muck with charity’s gift,
‘Till pulled by that otherworldly drift.

So what was the point of it all?
When nations fought in total brawl
Where virtue’s vices yield their price
And siren’s songs entice
Only the fools and those naive
Who refuse to see and must believe.

So you cannot hear my tale
Lest it crack your world most frail.