Thursday, January 07, 2010

Entry #22

The Tower
by Bernita


All night I have stood by this narrow window and stared down at the Thames. No torch-lit barges alight with revelry of lute and mandolin and song have disturbed its course. The river runs dark as my damask gown and cold as stone.

All night only moonlight troubled the waters like a sword...

A sword, not the axe. He will allow me that and no more. Such kingly courtesy...

Now dawn has stirred the ravens that strut and swoop about this fortress. I think they must feed on the silent curses of the condemned -- for they are fat and black...

A thousand days. A thousand days to dance and glitter like sunlight on a blade. A thousand days which ends this May morning...

I finger my necklace, the one he clasped about my neck with his own hands...

A bustle at the door. Footsteps ring slow across the floor. I turn as the Constable approaches. An uncouth man, but kind in his fashion. He jerks a bow and avoids my eyes. I notice his ruff and doublet are splatter-stained with red wine. I clasp my hands at my waist and wait.

"Majesty," he says. He coughs and looks away.

"M'lady...Mistress Boleyn..."Tis time."

60 comments:

Lena said...

Wow. I like the atmosphere you created with that few words. It is like you are in there. Very well done. Loved it.

Aniket said...

I've been following your comments on the posts before and your wisdom is evident in them. I was looking forward to your piece and it totally lives upto all my expectations.

To me, nothing seems out of place. The words work like clockwork to take you to a different time. Great work.

Jared Culpepper said...

couldn't agree more with the previous two posts. a firmly-established sense of environment comes across with each sentence. really enjoyed this.

Nevine said...

I love the medieval setting and language. Very nicely put together, and filled with with personal anguish.

Nevine

Leatherdykeuk said...

Very clever piece. I liked it muchly.

Chris Eldin said...

I really love your voice here. And you speak with so much confidence... I am in your world. Very, very well written. This is one of my favorite lines: I think they must feed on the silent curses of the condemned

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Great work, Bernita, as usual. You write it so well, I knew it was Anne Boleyn well before the end. I agree with Chris - that was the line that stood out for me too.

pjd said...

I went with my boys to the Tower last April on vacation, and it's stirring to see the block and hear the stories and walk the same ground those condemned people did. What a feeling it must have been to know the executioner waited for you. I think the voice of your story hits the right mark.

Craig said...

Heavy atmosphere. The dignity of the character is strongly portrayed.

Tara said...

Nicely written, I was clued in to her identity almost immediately.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Others knew her identity ahead of time. I wasn't sure which one it would be.

Love how you brought me into the tower and the period in time.

Excellent!

fairyhedgehog said...

This is beautiful. I felt such a pull of emotion right from the start.

I love the deceptive simplicity of the language in A sword, not the axe. He will allow me that and no more. Such kingly courtesy... and the lyricism of A thousand days. A thousand days to dance and glitter like sunlight on a blade. A thousand days which ends this May morning...

You've captured the mood of the picture perfectly.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Kind People!
I thought it essential to provide identity clues early and I hoped they were sufficient.

Kartik said...

+1 at fairyhedgehog's comment. I loved those lines too!

SzélsőFa said...

a very accurate yet poetic piece. the monologue seems to portray the Anne vividly to me.
reading it was like watching an interesting film about that time.

JaneyV said...

Bernita - this is pure class. FairyHedgehog said it all. Brava!

raine said...

Magnificent, which doesn't surprise me at all.
I was absolutely there. Strong wording with slashes of tragic sensitivity.
"A thousand days to dance and glitter like sunlight on a blade."
Excellent.

PEOPLE, PLACES, VOICES, FACES... said...

"I think they must feed on the silent curses of the condemned -- for they are fat and black..."
I absolutely, unequivocally, love everything about this piece.
Wonderfully conceived and exquisitely written.

Ranee

Four Dinners said...

The 'atmosphere' you create is quite extraordinary.

"M'lady...Mistress Boleyn..."Tis time."

Well I'll be damned! I didn't see that coming in any way!

Don't knock yourself babe. You are bloody good!!!!

'Naughty' 4D x

Chris Allinotte said...

I won't repeat what others have said, though I agree with all of it, I'll just add that I loved the craft of this piece:

All night only moonlight troubled the waters like a sword...

A sword, not the axe. He will allow me that and no more. Such kingly courtesy...

Well done!

Terri said...

Bravo; perfectly crafted.

And the birds are so subtly a part of the scenery I actually had to think about where they were, afterwards.

laughingwolf said...

excellent, bernita!

[i KNOW i left a comment yesterday, here and on your blog]

Amias said...

an old tale with a new voice, how refreshing.

Blodeuedd said...

I got a chill, this was such a great piece. I knew it was someone, but would not have guessed it would be her

onipar... said...

Simply beautiful. I can swim through your prose.

Aimee Laine said...

Such imagery. As good as being there.

Beth Harar said...

I think this is beautiful. Your writing is very lovely!

Anonymous said...

awesome and beautiful, bernita!!

anne frasier

Ayodele Morocco-Clarke said...

Enjoyed reading this the first time...and still enjoyed it this time. Nice one Bernita.

Bernita said...

Thank you for all your lovely comments.
~cries~

kashers said...

Ah yes... Anne of the 'little neck'.

Loved the descriptions of the Thames. Both 'The river runs dark as my damask gown and cold as stone.' and 'All night only moonlight troubled the waters like a sword...' are gems as subtle as any as the lady would have worn.

Anonymous said...

Loved the voice in this and the writing flows smooth and well crafted from the very first word.

J. Randick

austere said...

Sheer poetry in the first few lines, and that sense of distraught in the rest.

Tim Remp said...

This was my favorite line : I think they must feed on the silent curses of the condemned -- for they are fat and black...

Wonderful piece. I haven't seen the Thames in years.

Laurel said...

Damask in the Tower...I was hoping for Boleyn and boy did you deliver!

This is elegant. One of my favorites.

Kate said...

I love how the constable has trouble addressing her. She's about to die, but it's everyone else who's a mess.

catvibe said...

So wonderfully written. I just love stories about this period and these people. You have done an excellent job. Loved the poetry in your prose. The paragraph about the birds was succulent. Excellent.

sandra seamans said...

Such beautiful writing, Bernita! Lovely, lovely piece

Crafty Green Poet said...

this is excellent, wonderfully evoked time period, a companion piece to Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall

illyriataylor said...

superb in its originality. bravo.

Charmaine said...

Wow. You're amazing! Beautiful and suprisingly well written.

I knew it would be.

Liz said...

This reminded me of when Dr. Who visits a mistress in 17 or 18 century England. I liked how she was given a thousand days. I wonder if she just waited there all those thousand days, but I guess it just mattered where she was at the end. I guess the crow also was almost like the dark messenger letting her know her time was up.

You could write a book based on this one entry talking about what she did each of the a thousand days and if she had remorse...

BernardL said...

An ephemeral look at a last morning. My favorite line - 'The river runs dark as my damask gown and cold as stone.'

truevoid said...

very compact. you transported me to that time. beautiful.

Deb Smythe said...

I commented yesterday, but I guess Blogger ate my words. Anyway, this was great. In my top 5 at least. Beautifully written. Spot-on on in tone and language.

Preeti said...

simply loved the imagery. i had such a wonderful time reading this and it left me with a wistful feeling when it ended. i wish there was more.

beautiful.

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

Poetic, beautifully written. I was taken by surprise at the end. I watch The Tudors, and it brought me right back!
Great job ~ best wishes.

stacy said...

This is terrific.

MRMacrum said...

I was sure I had already commented here. Guess not. This is one of my favorites and I read it before I read most of the others. On my third read through now. Really really like this one.

Sandy said...

Very poetic and beautiful. The ending falls like a rock upon calm waters.

Sandeep

J. M. Poirot said...

Wow, that was impressive. Incredible and vivid descriptions and setting. Beautiful language. loved it.

MHPayne said...

One of my prize possessions:

Is a sculpture a friend made for me of a raven dressed in full Yeoman Warder regalia. A lovely piece: top 10, says I!

Mike

McKoala said...

Ah, a historical! Lovely description, puts us perfectly in the place and time. Nice details. Especially the wine stains, loved that!

james r tomlinson said...

I've read a few historical flashes in this contest. It's so nice to be able to imagine what awaits her, instead of having the graphic violence shown. The guillotine awaits.

desiderata said...

superbly told -- an historical setting comes alive as a present. tops my faves so far, Desi

Jane said...

oh i loved this..great prose and scene setting..being a henry v111 history boff, i knew it was the eve before anne's execution as soon as the sword and the axe were mentioned, so i didn't need the final line..love how you tied in the thousand days as in anne of 1000 days - one of my fave films from childhood...the ravens and the thames too - very authentic scene.

Rabid Fox said...

Quiet, foreboding, and a bit sad. Not bad at all.

Corra McFeydon said...

Oh - nice! I didn't see that ending coming.

*No torch-lit barges alight with revelry of lute and mandolin and song have disturbed its course.*

Lovely and lyrical prose.

A pleasure to read. ;)

~ Corra McFeydon

Aerin said...

Dear Entrants #1-105,

I have read your pieces so that I can fairly participate in the Readers' Choice vote. (I read all of them through last week, before I started commenting.) I will be coming back around to offer my keep/tweak comment, but I didn't want anyone to snark.

Cheers,
Aerin (#236)

BTW, it's perfectly fine if you still want to snark, but this way you can choose a more appropriate subject, like the merits of Mafia Wars or whether Katie Holmes should demand a divorce

Bernita said...

A most grateful thank you to everyone who took the time to comment.
Your words were very sweet.