The Riverlord’s Passing

Moss-hung oaks lift ancient heads

To greet his passing bier

Herons bow their graceful necks

And farewell liege-lord dear


No noise of gulls in salty air

And otters kneel ashore

Marsh grass parts to make the way

For gloried, aged riverlord


Their fathers’ fathers sang his reign

The young lord tall and strong

He raised his flag and house and hold

To rule their river long


The tide moons pass and much is lost

But water knows its course

And river life does not forget

The tender of its source


He gave this land his body

And creatures great and small

Come now to give their homage

For his service to them all


A dolphin guard swims silent by

As waves wash tired hands

High osprey’s eye perceives afar

The age falls from the man


The river’s king has reached the ocean

The waters finally meet

To make anew first Adam’s heir

For sweet long hoped-for sea.


Illustration Credit: Katherine Cameron, Mary Macgregor’s Stories of King Arthur’s Knights

This poem is for my grandfather. I owe some credit for the imagination of this scene to Arthurian legend, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and George R.R. Martin. But then, I suppose I owe all fantasy writers.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

Comments 1

  1. James, I am speechless, but you were able to capture what my heart feels about him. The day of the service, there was a beautiful , large blue heron standing on the small plank that crosses the ditch by the barn. He was staring toward the cemetery as if he was watching over us quietly, with great composure and peace. A wonderful visual image God have me to remember him by! Thank you

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