Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Friday, October 04, 2013

Oct 4: Go Gentle . . .

Each morning I bind
my breasts in heavy cloth,
lift up the helm, a mask,
face hidden; next the chest plate,
gauntlets protect each hand.
Fully skirted, I cover my legs
with metal, gather my dagger
and my mace,
finally, the shield.
So encumbered, I yet remember
your touch and go forth,
outside these walls,
a warrior facing yet another winter.
Some can afford to be gentle.
Would that this world did not
require armor.

Adobe wall, Sante Fe (Camp 2010)

I struggled with the concept of 'gentle' all day, for at first, I could not forget the echoes of Dylan Thomas' famous lament on the death of his father: "Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

My husband wanted me to write a poem about our granddaughter who is learning how to be gentle with the cat. He is truly a gentle person, gentler than me.

Last weekend we went to a local fairgrounds for a children's sale, paradoxically held right next to a gun show. I was surprised not only by the men who passed us in pairs and camouflage, but by how they held their guns and knives at the ready in an 'open carry' state. I immediately felt defensive, in 'fight' mode, ready for an attack.

Perhaps at heart, I shall always fight.

Read the full text of the Dylan Thomas poem here.

Read what gentler voices have written for OctPoWriMo here.


  1. Wonderful! I find it to be an accurate description of how we have to defend ourselves from all the hurt out there.

  2. Anonymous8:01 PM

    Dylan Thomas drew me in today, too. Your poem is such a sadly profound statement of truth... "Would that this world did not require armor". Indeed.

  3. I can't believe they were holding a gun show next to a children's sale, just seems wrong.

    I wasn't feeling very gentle with my poem either but I love the route you took with yours. Truly, wish we didn't need armor.

  4. Well done, Beth. I could easily visualize the suiting up, fortifying to meet the world. This line "So encumbered, I yet remember
    your touch and go forth," shows me there is tenderness and gentleness somewhere in this person's life.

    Thanks you. xoA

  5. I appreciated your meta analysis!

  6. A lovely poem! So descriptive and so profound!

  7. I can hear, smell and feel the armor.

  8. I see the protective aspects of this poem, not necessarily a lack of gentility. Yes, the armor is worn, yes the weapons are at the ready...but I don't see blood drawn here. Ready to protect and defend. :-)

    That said, I was immediately drawn into this one...I love stories of armored knights anyway and you really painted a lovely picture with this poem.

  9. This was a much more profound use of the prompt than mine. No surprise there. But your explanation of where it came from also stirred me. X

  10. I am embarrassed that I don't get the Dylan Thomas reference AT ALL! Need to find that. I'm thinking Joan of Arc, for some reason. There is a fierce gentleness both in wearing the armor and choosing not to wear the armor. I'm glad you went your way rather than give in to your husband's urging. That would have been a great poem, but it sounds like your gut was calling you elsewhere. Brava!

  11. Oh, what a world it would be.

  12. I had a tough time, trying to get words to be gentle, but finally i did! Your poems brings out the best in the readers :)