The Herald

Sketch of a knight fighting a fire-breathing dragon

Warring 'Gainst the Dragon's Lair

A Poem of Encouragement, by Joseph Pote

Battle scarred and bone weary,
The vet’ran warrior stands alone,
Upon a barren hillock,
Waiting for the dawn.

Tattered cloak pulled close about him,
Face set in grim determination,
A single tear coursed down his cheek,
Toward unknown destination.

How came I to this lonely tor,
To this land of bitter sorrow?
Whence hath fled my lady love
And bright hope of tomorrow?

Alas, the dragon took my love,
Fleeing both into the night.
To him her will hath been surrendered,
The battle lost without a fight.

“Protect each other faithfully,
And desert each other not!”
This charge was given by our King,
Ere we left Camelot.

Ever did I court my love
And ‘gainst the dragon fought.
While she turned sword upon my back
And did the dragon court.

Long did I fight that crafty beast.
Not once did I yield ground.
Yet now I find the battle’s over,
And vict’ry ‘twas not found.

Have I lost the battle then,
Though fought courageously?
N’er did I desert my post;
Yet my post deserted me!

A single dove alighteth near,
Snow white in the graying dawn.
A scroll loosed from its gentle clasp
Drops softly to the lawn.

The seal bears My King’s signet,
And the flowing script is His alone.
The ink shines forth a fiery red
Like the gold upon His throne.

“My own dear knight,” the letter reads,
“Be not discouraged or dismayed.
I have seen thy courage and thy love,
And heard thee when thou prayed.”

“This battle’s over, it is true,
But the war continues on.
I yet have need of thy sword and spear.
Victory must be won!”

“Other knights, though warring hard,
Grow weary of the fight.
Enter thou into the fray;
Grant them some respite.”

“I need thee to My Herald be.
Speak comfort to the wounded.
Strengthen those whose will grows faint.
Encourage the disconcerted.”

I close the scroll and bow my head,
Giving thanks unto My King,
Asking Him for strength of will,
And heart for minist’ring.

Hark, what sound is this,
Falling sweet upon my ears?
Ne’r twas sunrise heralded so,
Not in two thousand years!

I turn my gaze toward the bright’ning east,
Seeking source of this trumpet blast.
Not even the sun can shine so bright!
My King is coming at last!

Shining argent ‘pon a noble steed,
Leading forth a mighty host,
He crests the east horizon,
Whom my heart desireth most!

The brightness of His coming
Scatters mists of despair.
I see battles waging round about,
Warring ‘gainst the dragon’s lair.

Heart filled now with courage,
I quickly mount my steed,
Charging toward the battle
Where I see the greatest need!

From deep within my bosom
A war cry ‘scapes my throat,
“Sharpen now your weapons!
Mend your mail coat!”

“Cast aside your weariness!
Be strong!  Hold firm!  Stand fast!
The battle’s almost over!
The King is coming at last!”

 

I wrote this poem in January of 2002, just three months after the finalization of a divorce that marked the end of a 17 year marriage.  It was written as a way of expressing some of the mixed emotions I was experiencing of sorrow combined with hope, and out of recognition of God’s redemptive calling in the midst of a dark period of life.

Since then, I have found myself going back to this poem, as a source of encouragement.  When going through a difficult period, as I feel myself sliding toward discouragement, I sometimes quote this poem to myself, and find it a refreshing reminder that what I am experiencing is not unique to me, but common to mankind; that others are as much in need of encouragement as I am; and that the battle will not last forever.

The King is Coming!

Whether He is coming to reclaim the earth, or coming to reclaim my heart, or both, He is coming soon!

What favorite poems, songs, or Bible passages do you turn to for encouragement when facing difficult situations?

6 thoughts on “The Herald

    • It is amazing how God can speak to our immediate needs through an unexpected passage, Isn’t it? I have read various “thru the Bible in a year” formats over the years. There have been several times when I was almost pessimistic about benefiting from the passage assigned for a given day, and yet God spoke to me through it. I used to think of the genealogical lists as stuff to rush thru or skip over to get to “the good stuff”, but have found some real nuggets of insight even in those passages.

  1. Your poem gives strength, comfort and wisdom.

    I would like to offer a mere etymological footnote.

    ‘Dragon’ derives from a Greek word, δράκων (drákōn), which probably comes from δρακεῖν (drakeîn), “to see clearly”.

    The serpent of Eden must have seen Adam and Eve with great clarity and thus gained power to tempt them.

    Even in popular thought, dragons are believed to be beasts from below, coming forth to feast on the innocent.

    • Very interesting! I love digging up word roots and origins. It often gives insight into current usage.

      Several years ago, I read a novel titled “The Oath” by Frank Peretti, in which a mythological dragon is the personification of a community’s shared sin. The dragon was a master at concealment, adapting to its background like a cameleon, so it was difficult to see.

      I liked Peretti’s approach, and saw in it some possible explanation for why, in Arthurian legend, the knights on holy quest would pursue and slay dragons. If the dragons are symbolic of personal or community sin, then it makes perfect sense for their pursuit and demise to become a holy quest.

      Obviously, I drew from that perspective in writing this poem.

      So, if the root meaning of the word “dragon” is “to see clearly,” perhaps it is referring to clearly seeing our own sin, which is usually well concealed. Once visible it can be dealt with and fought against.

      I see that as a major part of the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives, to reveal to us the sin in our hearts and lives, so He can then deal with it.

      An interesting perspective, anyway.

      Thanks, Larry!

  2. I like you poem, Joe. Thanks. It helps me see your journey.

    And you must have worked hard to get all those rhymes and have it scan so will while still driving the metaphors home to their target. Well done!

    Also Larry, thanks for the etymology. Yes. The serpent saw Eve and Adam’s weaknesses, he checked them out like a thief susses out his target before hitting on him, or like a white collar sociopath susses out the weaknesses in the company he works for in order to strike at the most vulnerable point and make his kill. Or like a stranger-rapist checks out a woman to see what her weak points are (long hair easy to grab, high heels can’t run fast, using her mobile phone means she is distracted by other things….) The dragon examines, eyeballs, sneaks, peers, scrutinizes and probes with patience and precision in order to best plan his evil attack.

    • Thanks, Barbara! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Writing this poem was somewhat therapeutic for me, at the time, and it seemed to just flow out. I toyed with the ideas for several weeks before actually sitting down to write…then couldn’t stop writing until I finished it…

      Yes, the dragon is very cunning, vicious, and deceitful!

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