An Evening On the Battlements

As I stood on the ramparts, I gazed out at the leaden winter sky. The air was frigid, an icy Norse wind which numbed my face and sent my hair flying. Below me lay a vast mountain landscape, a stark and grand panorama which aroused the darker, sterner, more manly spirits in me. I could see snowy peaks not too far away piercing the rough clouds which appeared, as I looked upon them, to be misty giants embattled. The broken stony highway winding away from the fortress into the distance seemed tiny as did those who walked beneath my feet.
      Here was I, the lone sentry that night. How many before me must have known the feeling which now possessed me, the awe of the infinite. I was at that moment the master of this great height surveying my dark and foreboding kingdom. I could almost hear the trumpets echoing through the mountains in the distance to herald a call to arms. And the world below me—it seemed to consume me! It drew me closer to the edge of the battlements. There was a grim and deadly beauty about the yawning and gaping jagged peaks. I did not fear death here, and my daily worries were but grains of sand where I stood. I did not care that I stood alone, for I was one with the mountains around me, filled with a feeling of dark and mighty splendor, standing tall as the cold wind howled mercilessly around me. It was no fiery, sensuous passion which filled me, the warm, feminine feeling of fulfilled romantic desire. It was a feeling of cold, stoic bliss; it was the chilly thrill of victory. Perhaps this was the best feeling I could ever hope for, I thought sadly, but here and now, the feeling was sufficient to lift me from my restless despair. Upon my death, I hoped the feeling I would experience would be similar. There was no love here, but there was harmony, majestic order. There was something deeper and more meaningful than my life there in the rocks below, something immortal and heroic with would surely outlive me. I knew I could never hope to duplicate this wonder with any of my endeavors, but I didn't care. After all, I was only human like everyone else.
      After a long moment of contemplation, I turned from the parapet and descended the stony stairwell to retire to my room in the ancient guard tower. Dusk had fallen, grey and pallid upon the land.

George Chadderdon © 1991