Of wandering heroes, women perched on pedestals, and unrequited love …
Lady Ice – Thomas Canty
This is a poem that graces a print hanging above one of the many bookshelves that populate Dartmouth Manor. The author is Eric Kimbell, and the poem is a rugged, rhythmic piece meant to be recited over deep and potent draughts of ale. ‘Tis the story of a weary traveler, an ideal of desire, and the lengths to which men (and women) will go for these prized dreams of imagination and libido … and the peril that awaits their hearts when they do.
Or, more simply put, this is a song of unrequited love …
Every now and then I search for this poem on the net and turn up nothing and so, as a public service (‘mongst other things) I am reproducing it here.
And should you ever catch me in a tavern with a few ales under my belt, I might be persuaded to share my own redention of the good poet’s tale …
If Time is a circle, then in a circling of Time,
I came to a highway in a midnight of rain.
Another Soldier of confusion in a murderous clime,
Another prisoner of misfortune with no word to explain.
So I rode for the border and I searched for a light,
And I was thinking I was lost when I first heard her voice.
So when she asked me to trust her, I thought that I might,
Though I knew from the beginning I really had no choice.
And she said she could tell I was a desperate man,
But she pleaded she was caught in some bad situations.
And she said, Every one of us must do what he can,
And if I did my best for her, she’s return the obligation.
At the edge of a hurricane only hunger makes sense,
And though I knew I really shouldn’t, still I rode where she called.
I surrendered my suspicions to the brittling winds,
And the next thing I knew, I knew nothing at all…
She is the Lady of Diamonds, She is the Lady of Ice,
Mysterious Enchantress, the Madonna of Sorrows,
And if she calls you to find her, you cannot think twice,
For what she says once will mean nothing tomorrow.
So I came to a tower all of glittering white,
And when I saw her in her window I prayed for control,
Her hysterical radiance unraveled my sight
As the fingertips of her beauty touched ice to my soul.
And I stood before her silence like a thief caught in flight,
There was thunder on the road, all the hillsides were shaken.
I said “Lady! You have called me! I have traveled all night!”
And she smiled as she replied, “I believe you are mistaken.”
And I stood beneath her window like a scarecrow in rags,
With my heart in my hands, with the rain in my eyes.
And when I begged her for mercy she cursed me and laughed,
And her laughter was like diamonds, and her voice was like ice.
And I stood within her shadow like an angel in chains,
There was a wicked storm rising, I was more dead than alive,
And as I turned to find the highway, I asked her for a word,
And as she barred up her window, she whispered, “Survive!”
Now there’s a cold wind blowing, and it cuts me like a knife
As I remember those words and I call back those hours,
And I count the man lucky who escapes with his life
From the casual cruelties of ladies in towers…
She is the Lady of Diamonds, Glad Lady of Lies,
Proud Mistress of Ruins with a conjurer’s heart,
And if she calls you to dance you had better think twice,
For in intricate bits she will tear you apart…
But … if Time is a circle, then, in a circling of time
I expect that that woman is going to call me again,
And as I listen for her voice, still I’m wishing she’d find
Some other highway in the midnight…
Some other desolation soldier
For her hollow crucifixions…
Another rider in the rain…
Goddess – Barry Windsor Smith