We all know the tale of the Knight Erasmus
killed by a fateful canon-ball
while blithely obeying the call
but who knows the tale of his lady love?
– Perhaps no one at all
but I know the tale of Erasmus’ lover
met by moonlight, under darkness’ spell
for only beneath that black velvet cover
could such a deep passion dwell.
– The tale I now shall tell:
One night, the Knight-errant, the brave Erasmus
emerged from depths of his castle-cave
and there on the cliff-side a shadow was calling
who wraithlike did beckon our errant knave.
To the brink she did lead him, this velvet shadow
and there on the ledge he would plunge head-first
for she had so wholly enthralled this fellow
that he knew nothing more but his carnal thirst.
So he leapt, not to death, but to depthless love
and he drank of her potion, most potent and strong
and from that day on, he was wholly giv’n o’er
to all her dark charms, though she soon was gone.
For she was not a lady of wealth, nor of station
but a creature wilder than the wolves of the east
and he could not take her as his bride: the reason?
She was wholly unfit for the nuptial feast.
But oh, how he loved her, his dark raven-beauty
and every night to the ledge he would come
there to perform his most chivalrous duty
but never within castle walls was she borne.
And when she discovered that she was with child
and he gave her a gold coin, to pay off her shame
she could not abide, for her passion was wild
and so over the ledge she did plummet in vain.
But even in death, she did never forget him
and every night with the wild wolves would call
and sure, he would hear her, his heart ever-bleeding
as it was on the morn of that last cannon-ball:
She appeared in the hallway, and urged him to enter
the latrine – yes, for she had thrown open the door
and as he obeyed that final call of nature
I can’t tell if she smiled at the things that she saw.
© Experimentsinfiction 2020, All Rights Reserved
About this poem
Written for dVerse Poetics, where host Sanaa has asked us to ‘write a Gothic poem and explore the question: “Which according to you are the deepest, darkest and most concealed of human emotions?” ‘ Well, without question, the deepest is love. But as this is Gothic, it had to be forbidden love.
I set this fictional and tongue-in-cheek Gothic tale in Slovenia’s Predjama Castle. The Knight Erasmus was a real historical figure and lord of this castle, and legend has it he was killed by a cannon ball whilst paying a visit to the toilet. Whether he ever did have a forbidden love I have no idea.