Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Warrior Poet

The warrior poet is a great hero archetype.  Authors and readers spend much creative time with him!
His roots are in the Irish Fianna, an ancient society of professional protectors of the poor and voiceless. A man was not taken into this society until he not only proved himself in battle but also was a prime poet. He had to work with his mind, heart, and strength, with his courage leading all.  In his Fianna trials, he had to run through a gauntlet of nine fellow soldiers. His weapons could not quiver in his hand, nor could he crack a dry stick underfoot, or disturb a hair out of its braiding. This guy not only needed to be in balance, he had to have finesse!
Fionn mac Cumhaill of the Irish Fianna
 From legend and lore, you’ll find warrior poets like larger than life Robin Hood, King Arthur, Ossian, St. George (who, after slaying that dragon, helped in the birth of his children). The heroes of Shakespeare's comedies qualify, as does Romeo, but not Hamlet or MacBeth (out of balance guys!).  Jane Austen abounds in warrior poets, from proud Mr. Darcy to Colonel Brandon, the loving suitor of the sensual Miss Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility.  
Who could forget Alan Rickman in the role of Col. Brandon?

The balanced and decent Navajo policemen in Tony and Ann Hillerman's mysteries or Dave Robicheaux in James Lee Burke's tales are more modern warrior poets, as is the cheerful Australian POW Joe Harman in Nevil Shute's A Town Like Alice.
One cheerful POW: Joe Harman in A Town Like Alice
An essential component of heroism is sacrifice. Much can be forgiven a person who has this kind of courage, who is willing to sacrifice his own life for another. This can mean battle. The Warrior Poet, either modern or historical, does not seek out a fight, but when it's an unavoidable part of the defending himself and others, he's good at it. Whether in the Scotland of the Outlander series, the Cornwall of the Poldark novels or 19th century America, our heroes don't shirk.  In contemporary settings, this passion can be seated in the hero's profession of fireman, police officer, FBI operator, but can also stem from plain, competent courage in the face of teaching in a ghetto school or being an honest accountant.  
Warrior Poet has the shell of his confidence protecting the core of his compassion. Sensitivity? Yes, the Warrior Poet has it. It is not a source of weakness, it's part of his strength and intelligence. Children open up a world of contrasts- fierce protection of the softest members of societies: baby cheeks and steel. Children provide a way to show our hero's softer side.  So do animals in need.  These guys are fierce warriors with a soft, compassionate side. We, as readers and authors alike, revel in their complexity.
Illustrator Eleanor Brickdale (1871-1945) knew how to mix baby cheeks and steel!
Charming medical professionals of Janet Lane Walters’ romances (Romancing the Nurse, The Doctor’s Dilemma, Heart Throbs)  The vet of Nancy M. Bell’s Christmas Storm, Gilbert of Nancy Scott Lewis’s On A Stormy Primeval Shore: New Brunswick are all wonderful examples of this archetype.  
My own heroes include Luke Kayenta, the warrior of my Code Talker Chronicles.  As a member of the Dine (Navajo) people, he has been taught to respect and honor women and their wisdom, treasure children and elders, and fight in World War II for the land he loves.  I hope you’ll enjoy his adventures.
Book 1 of my Code Talker Chronicles

Book 2 of my Code Talker Chronicles

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