The Zone of Prophecy: Fifth Pale Knight

Posted by ractrose on 30 Nov 2017 in Art, Poems

The Zone of Prophecy: Fifth Pale Knight



The Folly

The Legend of the Pale Knight




 The Zone of Prophecy


The sexton of St. Crispin’s, the late Mr. Michelwhyte

I doubt you’d know of him…which is rather the point, the familiar one

being far nearer Bath than Taunton, liked telling

(though half the time undoubtedly pulling my leg)

of that apparition dubbed the Pale Knight

By legend alleged to warn of doom impending

Now, there are three contrary indications

worth discussing…

The guest trails a bit and peers with some anxiety

over his teacup’s rim

My dear, I am a woman of my word, Virginia nudges

Bore ahead, my love (but this is Roscoe, mimicking)

Well, first, these mediæval signs and wonders

Were used politically to cow one’s enemies

You see a deal of the sort of thing in Shakespeare’s histories

Battle’s outcome heralded by the usual cocks and comets

Thus these accounts of Godfrey’s might have been utter fabulation

Set down in writing, by one who could, to please his patron

His name was, the guest adds aside, unlikely to have been Godfrey

That, merely as the local tongue had struck the Norman ear…

Ahem…no doubt, and then to make things muddier

The Knight himself acquired Godfrey’s name—

In the manner of a Frankenstein

Is that right? Now you amaze me

And so we had—the guest ticks off fingers…one, two, one and a half?

…the possibility of romance only

Then there are those matters of investigation…


And I’m sorry to say, we must now sail into the doldrums of scholarship. I shall have to explain a bit about what we seekers call the Zone of Prophecy. Let us say that a thing might happen on any given day within an ordinary year. Its chance of doing so would be one in three hundred sixty-five. But you will see that, should we allow its occurring within any quarter-year, this must rise (though in paradoxical fashion) to something near one in ninety. And so, with fair confidence I may claim to foresee a devastating earthquake, and am likely enough to be right…if I mean only somewhere on earth, sometime this year. Do I predict autumn, my prospect of looking prescient remains fair. Sheltering under the umbrella of otherworldly fogginess (the guest here does a creditable pantomime of squinting into a crystal ball), I may broaden the period to any time between late summer and early winter.

Suppose I say the catastrophe will take place on December nineteenth, and be centred upon the Isle of Man. Then, of course, it either does or, far more probably, does not. Should I suggest a robbery of the Irish Mail, now, and should this come true, you reasonably would presume my knowledge more that of confederate than clairvoyant. Because one may cause a crime, but one may not cause an earthquake…



The Zone of Prophecy
The Zone of Prophecy: Fifth Pale KnightThe Spectre Knows: sixth Pale Knight












(2017, Stephanie Foster)



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