Tintagel Castle

On Tintagel Island stands its Castle
( DinTagell in the Cornish : Fort by the Neck of the Land :
The headland , not the present settlement )
The head of island pointing out to sea
Penn Du or the “Black Head” of Cornish tongue
Rich in Arthurian Lore , from Historia Regum Britannia , and also from before.

“ It is right by the sea,
and surrounded by the sea on all sides;
and there is no other way into it,
except that provided by a narrow rocky passage
—and there,
three armed warriors could forbid all entry,
even if you took up your stand
with the whole of Britain behind you.”

So said Ulfin in the good Bishop’s story
To Uther Pendragon , mad for Igraine ,
So Wizard Merlin’s summoned from his cave
Beneath the castle of the Duke of Cornwall
And transforms Uther into Gorlois
Enabling the cheating of Igraine
And conception of Arthur .

The hoary pile of slim wet grey slate bricks
That stands on the grass – greened promontory
Even today , surrounded by a wall ,
Holds in its old embrace both truth and legend
Uther and Igraine , Tristram and Iseult
Launcelot and Genevra , Arthur himself
The Dumnoni, the Romans , the seafarers
Phoenicians, Greeks and Gauls and Brits and Celts
Angles and Saxons, Goths,Vikings ,Moroccans
Constructed , ravaged, built, broken and rebuilt
Still home to shiploads of amphorae
African and Phocaean Red Slip shards
And signs of a Celt- Christian monastery
And later on rebuilding by Earl Richard
Then in Victorian times, a courtyard wall .

You stand by its signature slate pile wall
An oaken – panelled door shorn of its studs
Shaped well to fit into its stony doorway
An equilateral arch but with a fleuron
On top of it with Roman numerals
Perhaps the year of its construction or
The serial of large stones fixed in the wall
Stands open wide to wind and to a view.
Not far below , the sea froths up in waves
A paler grey to match the soft grey sky
A glimpse of Merlin’s cave , perhaps , a walkway ,
A sense of what was once a metal mine.

The door that shows the world beyond the walls
That shows the sea that stretches mile on mile
And frames a piece of what’s overhead , the sky,
Some dreams and legends in the fort ,some out
The door, once new , now old, provides them passage
Soaked in the salt sea-spray of stormy tides
Drenched in the never – ending rites of rain .

( ASA )

6 thoughts on “Tintagel Castle

  1. Chaitali

    A nice read, brings back the memories of the Arthurian legends in mind. The lines are steeped in history and bring out a sense of nostalgia, of bygone days. Liked it.

  2. Pushmaotee Subrun

    A elaborately written historical poem… reminds me of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’…the’ Château d’If…

    1. amitapaul Post author

      Thank you , Pushmaotee Subrun .
      Indeed , Tintagel does remind one of the Count’s Island, and the stories within the story are quite as complex too.

  3. Suma K Gopal

    Nice blend of history and poetic diction that illuminates the lives once lived!
    Loved the ending lines –
    “The door, once new , now old, provides them passage
    Soaked in the salt sea-spray of stormy tides
    Drenched in the never – ending rites of rain.”

  4. amitapaul Post author

    Thank you , Suma K Gopal. Alliteration does seem to give a nice resonance to the ending . It’s so nice to know that it appealed to you .


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