|IN EARLY MORNING, COLD I STOOD|
On a brown and trackless hill.
Near the edge of a bleak and hoary wood,
Quiet of weather, solemn of mood.
The day was sere and still.
When out of the misty, Autumn weald
Came hoof beats, sharp and drawn.
Marred silent pall of wood and field.
To Riders, now, the day did yield
This fragile, blue-gray dawn.
From the waiting wood came Riders, four,
With midnight mail, and fell;
And helms like silver skulls, they wore,
This grim Tetrad from ancient lore
Of whom, John does sadly tell.
The leader raised an ebon horn
And gave it mighty breath -
A savage cry did rape the morn,
The Horseman, of pure evil born -
Their cursed name is Death...
In a valley wide, my village does stand
Beneath this sullen hill, and brown.
Not very great or very grand,
Like many a village in this land
Was my small and homely town.
These gangly wraiths of nightmare made
Blew past with nary a sound.
Grinning, now, each hellish shade,
Intent upon this feckless raid
On my kins-folk, and town.
The first Horseman, it was War,
And waving it's bloody sword
Set mine against villages, near and far,
Till flesh was wrent, and innocence mar!
By this eternally grinning horde.
And now, his existence's work well done,
He fell back among the ranks.
The second Horseman - Starvation - comes
And set his horse at a frantic run,
Touched spur to jetty flanks.
He raised a skeletal hand on high
And waved a sweeping arc.
All our lakes and streams ran dry,
I saw our crops turn black and die.
His eye gave a baleful spark.
Beneath his palely glinting helmet,
His laughter chilled my heart.
And I fell, lying overwhelmed -
The Horsemen laughed as kinsmen, well-met -
Disease from mirthless peers did part.
His stallion shook its ebon strands,
Reared up its Rider, mighty and tall.
He raised his arms and flexed his hands,
And sickness spread across the lands,
As stunned, I lay in thrall.
From my humble village, I
Could hear the anguished screams.
I witnessed my whole world die,
And cried with rage up to the sky
As Death destroyed my dreams.
My heart was dying in my breast,
It's remnant, withered and sere.
Like poisoned daggers had pierced my chest.
My loved ones went to uneasy rest.
My soul became a stagnant mere.
Ill omens rarely come in threes,
Oh, no; they come in fours.
With a malicious, unholy glee,
The other Horsemen took the lee.
Pestilence claimed the fore.
Ichor covered the helm on that visage, grim,
Wielding high a spectral staff
A fetid cloud blew from him.
Autumns frailish light grew dim.
He sighed a chilling laugh.
The cloud became a horde of locusts.
Then my teary vision failed.
I covered eyes much stung with dust.
From the cruel, unholy gust
The leafless branches flailed.
I lay on the hill that was dead and brown,
As the scary death-wake passed.
Then cast my eyes upon my town;
Beneath me, near and far, around
Left dead in this wanton ballast
The pall of death lay on terrestrial things
As far as I could see
A cacophany of death knells ring
As mourning, the few, the maimed sing,
Of those who had ceased to be.
I walked among the sad decay
Of a formerly bustling place.
Said what paternosters I could say,
As the wind blew fruitless tears away
From my haggard face.
Since then, I've wandered over the Earth
Without a hearth or home.
I've seen too much of death; and birth -
I stayed apart from; for what it's worth
I've kept myself alone.
I've seen the four and lived to tell.
Been sullied with their evil taint.
I'm cursed now, I know, full well.
My soul is too besmirched to sell,
Or be saved by any Saint.
Now I wait for Death's embrace.
Shut up in these quiet rooms,
In this far and foreign place.
Just another empty face,
No name to mark my tomb.