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The Knight
by: Ted Hughes

Has conquered. He has surrendered everything.

Now he kneels. He is offering up his victory
And unlacing his steel.

In front of him are the common wild stones of the earth –

The first and last altar
Onto which he lowers his spoils.

And that is right. He has conquered in earth’s name.
Committing these trophies

To the small madness of roots, to the mineral stasis
And to rain.

And unearthly cry goes up.
The Universes squabble over him –

Here a bone, there a rag.
His sacrifice is perfect. He reserves nothing.

Skylines tug him apart, winds drink him,
Earth itself unravels from beneath –

His submission is flawless.

Blueflies lift off his beauty,
Beetles and ants officiate

Pestering him with instructions.
His patience grows only more vast.

His eyes darken bolder in their vigil
As the chapel crumbles.

His spine survives its religion,
The texts moulder –

The quaint courtly language
Of wingbones and talons.

And already
Nothing remains of the warrior but his weapons

And his gaze.
Blades, shafts, unstrung bows – and the skull’s beauty

Wrapped in the rags of his banner.
He is himself his banner and its rags.

While hour by hour the sun
Deepens its revelation.

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