29 Sep 2015

Poem: The Lady and the Dragon

The interlude has been long. A week ago, I wrote on the Ark; there I discussed the direction of the plot, matters of writing, and other such literary deliberations. I also presented a new chapter, the last to be made public before the date of publication.

Alas, I have done little in the way of the Ark hence. The cause may be attributed to a case of the flu—an unpleasant virus it is, easily capable of sapping energy from even the most lively of souls.

But another cause lies with the topic of this particular post. I have completed an epic poem entitled the Lady and the Dragon; and I do not speak of it as an ‘epic’ lightly. It is over two thousand words and nearly five hundred stanzas in length; it is, to put it simply, pretty damn big.

Why, you ask? To answer that particular question, one need look at what this poem actually is: a story. A fairytale, even. It describes the journey of the Lady Stella, and her faithful companion, Orem the Dragon. It is in many ways the archetypal novel: an antagonist—or rather, a multitude of them: the Golden Prince and the Keeper being the most notable—contrives to wreak some evil, or are presently in some state of evil. The protagonists attempt to survive, but also to truimph.

For the Lady Stella and the Dragon Orm do indeed truimph. At no small cost to themselves, alas—such is the workings of any good tale—but triumph they do.

Before I present my analysis—why not take a look?

Read the Lady and the Dragon

Analysis

Here I shall refrain from providing an in-depth analysis; for to do so would require many words, and more time than I’ve permitted—curse this illness of mine. Instead, I will draw attention to (and provide clarification for) the most pertinent aspects of this work.

Chiefly among these is the evident metaphorical aspect to this fairytale. The Lady Stella is a woman, and a kind, tenacious one at that; but she is also a symbol of the oppressed. And who would be the oppressor, you ask? Well: that would be not the Dragon (hardly; and it would be terribly cliché) but the Golden Prince.

He—along with the real mastermind behind the plan, the Keeper—represents the patriarchy. The latter is not some crash caricature invented by certain contemporary self-proclaimed feminists (who indeed are professional offence-takers, not fighters for freedom) but rather: it is the truth. Behind it, there lies a callous king; a desire for power and sex, no matter how it be given; and most of all: an enduring disregard for human life and human suffering.

The patriarchy has subtler, more insidious forms too. Take one such:

‘You are no man, but a shadow;
‘A creature of ghastly evils done
‘Of dark words said by men to boys
‘And evil to good.’

Now, this being a mere poem, it does not concern itself with analysing the many and varied forms of patriarchy, the causes, the expression, et cetera et cetera. No: this poem serves merely to give an insight. Patriarchy can be insidious; it can embed itself deep into the minds of children (male and female alike) in a manner not dissimilar to a genetic disease.

There are other metaphorical plays; indeed it may be argued that the poem itself is actually one giant metaphor. In the beginning, Stella is imprisoned within a castle:

Forged of men’s cruel intent
Built of crude granite; its windows barred
Its walls high, and its gate impenetrable,
The castle secures the Rebellious One
Oh so very well.

The castle may best be surmised with the words: ‘Know thy place.’ If you are imprisoned within its confines, you are in effect trapped from interacting meaningfully with the world; from political discourse, ownership of the means of production, and from any meaningful kind of self-agency. Yes, Stella has some limited control over her body in her choice of fashion, for example; but being imprisoned, she is unable to, say, ride a horse.

The topic most pertinent, however, is not the castle but the Dragon. Who is he? We learn that his name is Orem, and that he once betrayed the Ways:

I am Orem, the Great Dragon;
‘I betrayed those evil Ways
‘And neither Keeper, nor King
‘Nor the many men of savage armies
‘Could break my vigil.
‘I cannot control, but I cannot be defeated.’

Beyond this, I shan’t say too much. He is certainly loyal to Stella—even as a dragon, free to roam the world, and immune from near all human depredation, he yet holds fast. He protects her from many a dark scheme and insidious plot, despite having no such obligation. On a personal level, he is a hero; a man willing to stand in her defence, no matter the cost.

On another level, he is perhaps indicative of some societal force. Not all men are power hungry patriarchs; and though many may be deceived by the patriarchies’ lies and corrupting words, few willingly choose to subvert women for personal gain or sheer sadistry. Orem may be that man who treats his wife well, despite whatever others may think or do; Orem is he who stands for the defence of the innocent, no matter the price.

Let us conclude by addressing one more important thing: their success. Somehow, Stella and Orem do defeat the Keeper and his acolytes. How? The cause is two-fold. Firstly, Stella fights. At times, her fight may seem futile; but it is her defiance that ultimately destroys the Keeper’s insidious powers.

And it is also Orem, the Dragon, that kills these purveyors of evil. Take from that what you will.

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