Saturday, January 19, 2013

For Nigh a Millennium

Another sestina . . . 

. . . for Eleanor of Aquitaine . . .

. . . my 25th great grandmother according to Mormon mythology and numerical probability.  This is my first attempt at writing a sestina, but not the first sestina written of one beloved by troubadours.

Latin and literature entrained her mind;
Music and poetry bound the book of her heart.
Fearless on the hunt, with horse become one,
With imprinted hawk aloft her screeching soul.
A girl growing like a rose a beautiful body;
Blossoming, in a world of men, with thorns and spirit.

This granddaughter of a Dangerose spirit
And a warring troubadour's mind
Tempted princes with her lustrous body,
Captured from crusading knights their collective heart,
And released the doves from a singing serf's soul.
And the songs sung of her were more than one.

Of kings she married more than one:
Wearied of the first for his weak spirit,
Poor leadership, and ill-prepared monk's soul;
Recognized in the second an ambitious mind
To secure her land and royal heart.
Gave to both the garden of her body.

She bore and birthed ten babies from her body
And proved to be a privileged fecund one,
Yet still learned to bear a mother's broken heart,
Though it never broke her queenly spirit.
And when her king made sport with ones of lesser mind,
She became the keeper of her own soul.

And thus her king could not condemn her soul,
Though for sixteen years he imprisoned her body.
Nor could he prevent memories of music refreshing her mind
And, because her keep was not a windowless one,
Her soaring with falcons from the aerie of her spirit.
And as queen mother she never questioned the choices of her heart.

She outlived the choices of her heart
And retreated as an old soul
To an abbey to purify her spirit
And free it from her aging body
And teach it to fly to the one
Who gave it and all along enlightened her mind.

For nigh a millennium her soul has flown her body.
For nigh a millennium her heart not that of an entombed one.
For nigh a millennium her spirit inspiring the poetic mind.


  1. What a glorious write this is, about one made of spirit, bloom and thorn. I can well believe this was your 25th great grandmother - her poetry and spirit passed down the generations to you. I especially love that, though imprisoned, her spirit flew with falcons. My kinda woman!

  2. Simply wow! I love the structure of this poem. What is a sestina, though? I could not understand by the image. Plus, I wrote a poem on 'woman' too and thought I brought forth all her essence. But after reading this..I feel I have no idea about the heart breaks a woman faces. I guess I just need to look forward to them?!

    1. Don't look for the heart breaks, they will find you. Don't fear them, in sorrow is much wisdom it has been said. I added a link to "sestina" from that explains the form and gives examples.

    2. *smiles* will check out the form on I'm learning so much from all of you!

  3. Such an image-filled sestina, showing her weakness and her strength. Goddess, queen, woman, you, me...

  4. This is beautifully expressed, Libby! You have really created a work of art here, made her come alive!

  5. Very nice Libby, you really put alot into this and it's outstanding.

  6. "With imprinted hawk aloft her screeching soul"

    "soaring with falcons from the aerie of her spirit"

    "And released the doves from a singing serf's soul"

    Fantastic lines. The piece overall is so well-made and thoughtful, but, I definitely had three favorite parts.

  7. Wo! She was a great and fascinating woman, and you've done her justice. Hard to believe it's your first sestina; well done! And how exciting, the personal link.

  8. Whoa...this is the first time I'm reading a sestina--fantastic! Kudos Libby..As Mary said, its a great piece of Art!:)

  9. a captivating read!
    i have yet to write a sestina. i tried writing one, and the incomplete thing is still in the hard disc somewhere. :)


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