The Zone of Prophecy: Fifth Pale Knight

Posted by ractrose on 13 Apr 2019 in Art, Poems

collage medieval figures and flight of red birds art for poem The Zone of Prophecy



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 of 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 specialisation. 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 if I should like to seem clever, I might say a Monday in autumn…that I feel it shall be thus, sheltering under the umbrella of otherworldly fogginess (the guest here does a creditable pantomime of squinting into a crystal ball). With fair confidence, taking only the smallest of risks, I can predict disaster…disasters always are occurring, after all…

And being that the detail—specificity…you see how it gives the illusion of authenticity—of either Monday or autumn doubles my odds of falling near the mark, while yet the two coming together remains quite possible… But, suppose I say the catastrophe will take place on December the 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 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
Pastel drawing of rheumy-eyed elderly manThe Spectre Knows: Sixth Pale Knight
















(2017, Stephanie Foster)




%d bloggers like this: