Riddle V

A simple, single vocal cord have I
And yet I sing, describe a graceful arc
And sentence man and beast alike to die.
My bite is vicious, though I have no bark;
You’ll hear me groan, perhaps, but never cry.
In bones and history books I’ve left my mark.

I took the field in numbers long ago;
With me, serfs conquered kingdoms, but no more.
From princes to the lowest of the low
They feared, despised and hated me. To draw
Me takes a practised hand; an art on show
For all the world to see at Agincourt.

And though I’m long supplanted I can still
Prove deadly when you bend me to your will.


12 thoughts on “Riddle V

  1. Ah, I got this one.
    But it kept me puzzling until I arrived at Agincourt 🙂

    You do make rhyming seem effortless Nick.
    I know it is anything but. and I just love more, draw and Agincourt – Terrific.

    I hope you are having a good day


    • Ah, thank you David – and as long as the rhymes appear effortless, I’m happy!

      In fact, it’s the opposite of what I have to do in my work much of the time in order to justify the princely sums (ha!) I charge for my labours, which is to make it look a lot harder than it really is..!


  2. It took me quiet a few reads to get this riddle.
    It was a pleasure each time though with your words so vivid in image, so smoothly flowing and beautifully crafted.
    Master of the riddle and rhyme!
    I greatly admire your talent!


    • Thank you, Ina, for your lovely comment! The Battle of Agincourt (1415) is a famous date in English history, when King Henry V and his army, though vastly outnumbered, inflicted a crushing defeat on the French: Shakespeare tells it a far better than I can. Anyway, I’m afraid you’ve set me off again…

      At Agincourt, I blush to tell
      At least four thousand Frenchmen fell
      To English archers; and although
      It was six hundred years ago
      (or thereabouts) that victory
      Is part of our identity.

      Today, of course, France is our friend –
      Hostilities are at an end;
      A tunnel runs beneath the sea
      And links us inextricably.
      And yet the rivalry between
      Our two great nations can be seen:
      We keep a careful watch in case
      Sarkozy falls, and in his place
      A new Napoleon should rise
      With England as his greatest prize
      And, like the Conqueror before,
      Land French invaders on our shore.

      Not very likely, I’ll concede
      But if we ever have the need
      To pop across the sea and show
      Them just who’s boss again, the bow
      Might come into its own once more –
      Reminding them of Agincourt.


      • lol what a great poem! 🙂

        Now France is warned and on its guard
        as he has spoken, Britains bard,

        So what if they have good champagne,
        the eggs and bacon will remain
        as winners of the haute cuisine
        and Englands grass is always green!

        🙂 Ina x

  3. What a coincidence! Today was my first day back at the college after surgery, and there was a hot debate going on. The American Indian Higher Education Consortium’s Spring Conference is coming up, and the archery contest announced this year that only curved bows could be used. This caused a storm, and our archers were dismayed. What couldn’t they use long bows? What kind of archery contest was this anyway?
    The truth is that I couldn’t tell you the difference between a curved bow and a long bow, but a phone call or two helped straighten things out. The head of the competition sent out an email, and both curved and long bows are allowed in the competitive arena.
    Then I got home and read this riddle. LOL. This makes my day.

    • That ol’ sychronicity at work once more, it seems! Glad to hear you’re back on your feet; and what an unusual administrative issue to be confronted with on your return to the office! The only archery I’ve ever done is with a modern ‘recurve’ bow, but I would dearly love to shoot the longbow: at one time it was the law that every Englishman must practise with it at least once a week – in fact, football was banned to make sure the fellows went down to the village archery butts instead. Those were the days…N.

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