I couldn’t resist the temptation to escape briefly from 19th century verse and do a different (and shorter!) take on the Monk of Haldon story, so here’s my attempt.
The Lidwell Monk
The moor mists disturbed the traveller’s soul,
blurring the weft of the fluttering robe,
clothing the friar, and frayed by the devil’s breath.
The moor mists whispered in the traveller’s ear,
soft-singing the swell of the siren’s thrall,
“come, come, come on down, to My Lady’s Well”.
The moor mists kissed the traveller’s cheek
as he drifted to that lilt off the wheel-rutted path,
lit by the sprites of the fire-damp lamps.
The moor mists lingered on the traveller’s face
to the fingering reel of the Lidwell monk
where the spring of My Lady flows free.
The moor mists clung to the traveller’s throat
at the sting of the blade that slit to the bone
and the throb of his blood down the well.
The moor mists swirled, curling back to the road,
unfurling the robe of the Lidwell monk,
rehearsing the song of the siren’s thrall
to lure another traveller’s soul.
The moor mists dispersed as the full moon rose
lifting the curse for the sailor come home,
the sailor come home from the sea.
The sirens still sang of My Lady’s home
but his blood ran cold at the sight of the monk
offering the travellers’ dole.
He ate of the bread and he drank of the wine
and his head felt dull on the palliasse bed
that lulled him and soothed him to rest.
Then his eyes caught the glint of the flashing blade
and the grin of the monk in the windowed moon
and his gauntlet bore the bite of the knife
Whilst his cutlass tore through the thickness of night
and carved into two the monk from his head
dropping deep, down deep to My Lady’s well.
Now on Haldon moor when the moor mists swirl
you must still take care though you’re pure of heart,
for I’ve heard that there the ghost of the monk
still lurks at My Lady’s well.
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