Fast Rode the Knight by Stephen Crane

Fast rode the knight
hot and heavy
in its chain-mail armor
ready eager
sword waving forward
to save the lady
the fair damsel
in distress
from the dragons
and evil kingdoms
of duress
and dressing to impress
other’s conventional
standards
of dress.

Fast rode the knight
leaping from his saddle
to enter the war
the madness the fray
the disastrous
consequences of glory
and honor which befall
those who go
forth into that nightly
fastly rode.

Steel flickering and gleaming
riots of silver light
the gold of the King’s banner
waving on castle walls
and in towers
commanding the attention
of men far and wide
to understand that
important things
there were to transpire
for the sake of love
for the sake of Helen
of Troy
for the sake of meaninglessness
but it didn’t matter
let the banner’s
wave.
They will anyway.

Horse, blow your nose
stagger you bloody thing
at the foot of castle walls
helping men do their bidding
helping the knight ride forth
surely
for what else would he ride
upon
into the glory of battle
of taking your lance
and thrusting it upon
your enemy
your brother in honor
who wears his own colors
and fights for the sake
of his own castle
with its own banner
and flags waiving in the
air
so that the horse
that poor creature
can wind up dead.

What did it have to do
with honor and love?
Why did it need to be
led through battered
and bruised to its
death.
Do you think that’s
really what the
fair maiden
imaginary
wanted
in the first place?