Vol. 14 No. 16 · 20 August 1992

Of Two Knights Stationed in Neighbouring Castles

Simon Armitage

220 words

After Boccaccio

buddies through dozens
of scrapes and hassles,

the first knight thought he was happily wed,
the second man slept in a single bed.

One morning, at leisure, the married man
was walking his dog by the parish dam

and spied his wife across the water,
and waited a while, and caught her

in the arms of his friend – naked, consenting.
To say the least this really upset him

so later, he ran his friend through with a lance
and tore out his heart with his bare hands

and boiled the organ for his lady’s supper
and served it with chives and garlic butter.

On tasting the dish she was suitably grateful
and helped herself to a second plateful,

but on hearing the truth, exclaimed:
‘My love has swung round like a weather vane;

it’s me who should be blamed. If he is dead
I am married by hand but not in the head,

spliced by name, but in the heart a widow.’
Then she walked straight out of the bedroom window.

They buried the lovers
next to each other.

The human condition is misunderstood;
the heart is a muscle for pumping blood

but love goes
where the wind blows.

The heart can be skewered, scalded, salted and eaten
but love will not be altered, or beaten.

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