Black Bishop

Not Bishops Muzorewa or Sentamu! This is the black bishop in chess, but is the conflict really on a chess-board? Towards the end I evoke legends of Arthurian kingship and conflict. Like many of my characters, the Black Bishop feels a sense of duty and the reality of a role, but cannot define either. He (she?) is at once priestly and mystified. I recently posted on “My very own archetypes” and the Black Bishop seems to me to draw on three of them – the Wounded Magician, the Ignorant Soldier and the Watcher – perhaps even the Rider.




I am the black bishop, charged to strike

With marvellous speed along diagonals

Unable to go up or down, condemned

To follow one colour only until I fall

Or sleep. I am the lord of sidelong charges.


I am engaged in a cause we do not know

I am a soldier in a war we did not start,

And what we fight is like a mirror image

Of what we think we are. There have been wars, I think,

On this terrain before, and those dead struggles

Direct our own: the strings are pulled from far.

I am the priest of all the unknown altars.


I am a dream that I have long become

I am a comrade of the warring ghosts

Whose squares and files advance, collapse, reform

Into the mists that grizzle the warm night

My extreme unction’s carried like a mortar

My dying will be by a seep of water

I would not know from blood: I am the wandering order.


Here is the blade she gave me by the boardway

Across the marshes that are dried and ploughed

Here is the word I could not speak when grasping

The grooved hilt. For what did I take the sword?

I’ve written in my living will and dying

It should be taken to the fence-fanged pond

Survivor of the marshes, where a lady

Unknown, unseen, may take it in her hand

And that is all, though I apply the book and wand,

That I, blind soldier, fight to understand.

Leave a comment


  1. Each of us is a fighter; glad to meet a fighter for knowledge..
    Peace & Light

    • Thanks, Mira. Yes. But sometimes we’re not fighting for what we thought we were fighting for…

      Still, “Luttez!” (“Fight!”) Rieux to Paneloux, I think, in Camus’ “La Peste” – may not sound very original, but it reminds me of the advice by the same author, “You’ve got to imagine Sisyphus happy.”

  2. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

     /  October 15, 2012

    I was told once, that to become me, I had to incorporate all archetypes,
    all of the zodiac signs, and so…for we are not just one, we take or maybe we absorb the energy of what one we need for that moment..
    I think it would determine the reaction we give to an action?
    I like this one very much Simon….there are many days I am not sure what I am even here for….much less fighting to stay here for…
    an intriquing thought-filled poem
    and with this one I will go to sleep, or at least to bed..sleep fights me these days…
    Take Care…Simon….
    Blessed Be

    • Thanks, Maryrose. I’ll think about the first nugget, but I’m drawn to it.

      As for not being sure what you’re here for, I consider that a blessed state.



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