The Jester's Maiden
A poetic metaphor piece on mental illness
Come one, come all and hear the tale
of the maiden hiding behind the veil.
She hides her face, she hides her name,
for she knows that she will never be the same.
She lies beneath the weeping willow,
with the soft green grass as her pillow
and listens to the whispering wind,
which under its madness has her pinned.
Even so, no tears do fall,
despite the Jester's taunting call
that hounds and mocks and assails her senses,
seeking to decimate her inner defenses,
desecrate her fragile heart,
and tear her wounded soul apart.
The Jester wants her all alone,
sitting upon her broken throne,
where he hopes that she will waste away,
never to see the dawn of another day -
all trapped as she is in this twisted bastille -
while on her head burns the Jester's seal.
She cowers there, upon the grass,
waiting for the noxious terror to pass,
singing softly a sweet melody
that she prays will be the remedy
to keep her sane and whole inside,
and resurrect what may have died.
But try and try and try as she might
to save her crown and win this fight,
she can feel something wearing thin,
struggling weakly against the din.
She holds on tight, closes her eyes,
hoping to prevent her slow demise.
The wind shouts, blowing stronger.
She cannot hold on for much longer.
But just as she fears the Jester has won,
the torrent subsides and out comes the sun!
Is this real, or is this a trick?
A subtle ploy for another kick?
She cannot be sure, no way to know
Should she rise or remain down low?
So she waits awhile, just to be sure,
adamant to protect her core;
but the calm remains, the sun shines bright -
the Jester, for now, has taken flight.
He will return, she knows for a fact,
hoping that soon, he will find her cracked -
shattered into pieces beyond repair,
wearing nothing but a blank, empty stare.
No one can know what the future will hold.
We can only move forward, brave and bold!
This she will do, she vows with a passion.
She will not let herself be put on a ration.
And so with valour and determination,
she puts aside the trepidation
to step out from her cell of green,
and tries to forget all that has been.
The Jester watches and laughs in glee
as he thinks about what will surely be.
He schemes and plots his next attack,
which he will throw upon her open back...
Just when she thinks she is safe once more,
He will strike and renew the war.
So, dear friends, the moral is this...
The Jester brings the Judas Kiss.
Never, ever let him in,
unless you are sure that you can win.
For if you lose, you lose your soul;
never again will you be whole.
Insanity will be your dress,
your mind left in a chaotic mess.
Heed my words, old friends and new...
For I speak only what is true.
Thanks for reading! I thought I'd write a short paragraph on the meaning and inspiration of this poem.
The Jester is a metaphor for mental illness. I struggle with anxiety, panic disorder, depression and PTSD, and sometimes it honestly feels like you are fighting a war against very real, physical entity. Panic attacks leave you breathless, terrified as your body loudly shouts DANGER at you. Depression leaves you exhausted, muted, like you've bled out all your colour and vivacity. But then... suddenly - suspiciously - everything stops and you feel kind of normal - which for you, isn't normal at all. So you think, should I take a risk and do something? Maybe go out, run that errand I've been putting off, visit family or friends... something other than sitting and staring at four walls.
By the way, when I say it's a risk, I'm not kidding. There's been times when I've had panic attacks - sometimes multiple panic attacks - daily. Once, when I thought they had finally subsided, I took a chance and decided to go to a games night I'd been invited to, thinking that perhaps the socialising would do me some good. Twenty minutes into the drive I had a panic attack, in the middle of a busy, traffic jammed road. Honestly, it was one of the most terrifying experiences I've ever had. If I'd been somewhere quieter, I could have pulled over. But I wasn't somewhere quiet.
So this was the inspiration behind The Jester's Maiden. Often I get a visual image of my anxiety or panic attack, and it is always a vicious, evil face; a vile entity who takes great pleasure in mocking me - hence the Jester. But the lesson here is not to let the Jester - aka mental illness - define you or rule you; because the day you give up is the day the Jester wins. And the Jester cannot be allowed to win. I'm going to keep fighting and I want you to as well. You are not alone in the war. I see you. I hear you. I feel you. Don't give up.
I wrote this in conjunction with some other poems for a Semicolon Project collection. Here are the links if you would like to check them out :)