The Dark Rider

These ancient stones I've often trod,
     A shadow from a distant land,
Estranged alike from man and God
     Akin to wind and shifting sand.

The eyes, unfriendly, mark my passing,
     Heads turn, wary, to their neighbors,
Whisper tales of Armageddon
     As the watchmen grip their sabres.

By many I am called the Raven,
     Messenger of storm of strife.
An envoy from a savage land,
     I trade with kings in death and life.

Their folk and mine, alike my burden,
     Gather arms, prepared for fray,
And peace or slaughter rest upon
     The air of words exchanged next day.

I have no quarrel with strange men,
     But ride with terror in my train,
Dread ultimatums from abroad
     Foretelling news of heroes slain.

I'd pray tomorrow never come
     For I fear evil in its wake,
But still the storm-winds drive me on
     And soon this night I must forsake.

It is a cold night, dark and squalid;
     Angry rain snaps at my brow.
And winds beat heavy on my cloak,
     Shriek for my death, and yet somehow

The storm brings me a kind of solace,
     Familiar knowledge of a foe
I've faced and weathered countless times,
     Whose nature I grasped long ago.

Not so, the enemy ahead,
     Who waits for all but longs for me.
It fills me with unyielding dread,
     The destination I foresee.

And yet I do not wish to linger,
     Here among these cowering men,
Nor in my homeland. Rather, on
     The road which never knows its end.

George Chadderdon © 1994