.

Sir Percival

A quiet desperation lives within
my soul: to find the Holy Cup, the Grail;
to touch something beyond this mortal pen,
and taste my God, His blood, from Cross’s nail.

I am not worthy, this I know too well,
though we are all the Son, all Christ, or could
be Him if we’d but try abjuring Hell—
but Hell grows deep within like poisoned wood—

yet am I least of those I call “brother”,
not half so great as good Sir Galahad,
nor stalwart nor as strong as bold Sir Bors,
nor courteous like Gawain, humble lad,

nor skilled as cursed Sir Lancelot with sword,
but yet in me a passion burns: longing
to know my Maker, hear His flesh made Word,
that like un-quenching flame peels back my skin

revealing such deep pits within they ring
with sound—shrill screams, and trumpets loud,
as though angelic hosts and Satan’s throng
clash in the firmament—while I am bound,

tethered to flesh and failure, one lost name,
that yet will not forsake this quest, to yearn
and strive with all my aching heart—in pain
that close resembles ecstasy—and learn,

at last, what one droplet of Christ’s dark blood
could purge from this vessel of clay and bone;
at last, the meaning, all—completely understood,
in one pure instant revelation known:

why I was perfectly imperfect made,
and all my destiny, so long concealed,
would be unveiled, while I was unafraid,
and at long last the child within could heal.

If I could find the Grail, all things would be
as they were meant to be, as I had dreamt,
when just a boy playing in lustrous trees,
those sacred summer days—before the serpent.

.

.

Alan Grant lives in Glastonbury, England, where he makes a regular pilgrimage to the Tor, reads Tarot, and purchases too many books. 


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5 Responses

  1. Yael

    Nice poem, I really enjoy it. While I don’t know much about knights and their quest for the holy Grail, I really enjoy the observations made by the speaker in this poem. The second stanza is great and sets the tone for the rest of the poem. There is enough drama and tension to keep my attention all the way until the end, without artificial hype or forced rhyming schemes. I like the natural flow of the language and the even rhythm throughout which reveals the passion.

    Reply
  2. Alan Sugar

    This is absolutely incredible. Obviously, God has made of you a vessel from which to speak.

    Reply
  3. James Sale

    Another Glastonbury poem, following on from the brilliant one from Andrew Benson Brown. And Yael and Alan Sugar are absolutely right: as Yael notes, the drama, the lack of artificiality, the natural flow within the tight structure; and most importantly, as Alan Sugar observes, God to speak or as I would say, the Muse is clearly here – the whole imagining is just superb. Also, there are many wonderful technical features, so I will highlight one to finish: the rhyming of dreamt/serpent. This is a master writing, for it is of course onomatopoeic, or mimetic in intention. Contrary to the pedant on these pages who continually and erroneously keeps trying to force ‘perfect’ rhyme on all who listen to his delusional rants, it is never a question of it should be ‘perfect’ or it mustn’t be perfect; it’s a question of the form of words that best enact the meaning. Here that perfect world of summer is being interrupted by the serpent, and so the sound effect – the rhyme – is disrupted too. This is a brilliant use of pararhyme and only the kind of thing a master poet can … master! I hope to read more poems by Alan Grant – this is truly magnificent.

    Reply
  4. Andrew Benson Brown

    Magnificent. The tradition of Arthurian poetry has been languishing for too long now, and it is great to read this contribution! You really capture the pathos that characterizes many of the best examples of this genre.

    Reply
  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Alan, thank you for this breathtaking poem that begs to be read again.

    Reply

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