My own poem: ‘Three monks in a castle courtyard’

Hi and welcome again to The Green Castle. 🙂

One of the reasons for re-starting this blog was to create a space for sharing some of my own new writing that relates to or has in some way been inspired by various parts of the Speculative Fiction range and that this would also be true for also Speculative Poetry – i.e, verses in any form that drew on the same range as any prose pieces.

So, for this post I’m going to offer a poem I have written today. It describes some types of scenes that I have thought about in connection to my own reading of the Epic Fantasy tradition, especially when it comes to actions and characters in and around castles.  Beyond that, I wanted to present a picture of some monks as characters who might  offer more story-telling potential than men simply chanting in choirs or hunching themselves over vellum pages in a scriptorium. Those are both fine in their own ways and well-known to be authentic to the lifestyle of so many different orders of monks, but I felt there can be more to it than ‘just’ that.  Given how complex some political alliances can be in Epic Fantasy and in the original worlds that inspired and continue to inspire that tradition, I became intrigued by the possibility that a meeting between monks would not be entirely or even mostly about debating a finer point of scripture.

To add more intrigue to both the scenes in the poem and the writing process, I decided to not give myself any narrator’s privilege of knowing what the monks said but not revealing it to any other readers. There is also the issue that not all monks in a story or poem, or “in real history” back in Medieval Europe, would simply get along well with each other just because of all of them being ‘men of the cloth’.  Finally, some abbeys and monasteries could and did become very bound up in castle-based politics and so monks could, at least possibly, be used as couriers or spies, or both, and that could be without, or sometimes even with, their knowledge and agreement.

I hope you enjoy this early version of the resulting poem. 🙂

Three monks in a castle courtyard 

Three monks huddle

in a castle’s icy courtyard:

two monks in white robes,

their visitor in green.

They whisper, gesture, pull on their robes,

steal quick glances at soldiers

up on the castle’s walls.


The monk in green makes a final sign,

then stalks away.

He is noticed by a guard in the gatehouse, but neither man speaks.


In the next warm season,

an invading army closes in on the castle;

the guard remembers the monk who left early,

but not the exact shade of green.

Is there a link to the army’s flags?


An arrow robs him of any answer.


4 thoughts on “My own poem: ‘Three monks in a castle courtyard’

    • Hi, Sally
      I don’t think that monk was interested in forgiveness when he left the castle [:)] but remorse might set in later -or he might just become really bitter at being used as a spy or “devil’s advocate”. 🙂 It might also depend a bit on on whether or not he ever learnt any news of the army at the castle where he met the monks in white?
      Well, there might be the option of heading off on a good long pilgrimage to get away from those who set him up for the mission. 🙂
      cheers, Tim

    • Many thanks, Carolyn -for the kind words about the poem and for dropping in at the castle. 🙂 That last line was one of my fave parts too – as well as the sudden ending for the guard, it also signalled that the approaching force insisted on being reckoned with…and the monk in green was still ‘on the loose’. I had plenty of fun writing that one. 🙂

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