The Wandering of Anselm

By Joshua Holbrook

A little bit of background: This poem came about from a challenge from one of the members of my writing group, the LitWits. We were challenged to write a poem with only words with Germanic origins – no Latin, no Greek. I wrote this, but slipped in one non-germanic word just for fun.

Mighty Anselm, King of Alton in the West
Robbed of his maiden, Aisling, the faire and blest
By the fell Bowmen from the Walds of the East
They took her, most lovely, of women not the least

But Anselm the Great left his kingdom for his bride
Aisling, heart-stopped, his queen, lover and pride
He struck out eastward, alone wand’ring
With the blessing of Domhall, King above all Kings

But Drake, Archon of Bowmen, though to waylay
Anselm in his coming, to slay him if he may
He sent Everard, the boar great and grim, to slay him if he might
He came to him in minter, ‘midst the hoarfrost in the night

The boar took many blows
His tusks halted not their drive
But Anselm fighting yet
Struck the boar, and Lo! he died.

The winter tarried longer
And to Ardenstadt came the King in snowy din
He answered Durward’s riddles
And the strongman let him in

When winter’s melt came, he struck out again
And made great haste for Fenton waste, as the Spring brought her rain
The hateful muck of Fenton Bog up to his sword’s hilt came
And the folk of Fenton wouldn’t take him in, so on he trod again

At long last he came to the Wald where the Bowmen made their home
But the Bowmen would not face Anselm, though he was alone
They set a snare, and Anselm fell – a hole in the Earth!
And there bemoaned his wretched life – he and Aisling ne’r to know mirth

But in the Dark o’er his sobbing he heard a watr’y pang
He lit a fire and at his feet He found a Grotolm’s fang
And lo, he raised his awestruck eyes, saw many the piebald wurm
He gazed around, behold they were wheree’er the fireslight burned

Fifty of them gazes at Anselm as he drew his trusty blade
Twenty ran forth to their deaths as Anselm each unmade
The Grotolmeister, King of them all, writhe up to make him his feed
But Alton’s king dropped his sword, tamed the wurm and made it his steed!

Up he came, up from the crag, the evil olm made new
Fire spritzed from his mouth, and Anselm Drake slew
The Bowmen scattered and in their burg Anselm found his bride
They wandered thence back to Alton, mighty Anselm Aisling’s guide

Spring 2019 Issue