Lurking in the shadow of the walls at Nottingham Castle, Robin Hood's statue upholds the legend of the masterful archer and his merry men.
It is a place where legend and history cross paths, and within the strong pull of the castle wall, it's every man (or tourist, maybe) for him/herself as imaginary arrows whizz by.
Caught between modernity and medieval times, the verses of a poet from another time and space, fit the bill here:
"I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight."
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - The Arrow and the Song)
But let's stroll over into the castle, past the gate.
Intra muros - the former ramparts of the medieval bailey have given way to a place of a recollection where an ununiformed archer inhabits a peaceful garden.
The proverbial "straw man", which I thought was left behind at corporate meetings back home, greets me in the guise of a warrior armed with a bow and arrow.
Now upwards into the mystery of the middle bailey:
Finally at the top of the castle, I am rewarded with what the French call une vue imprenable, a stunning view, but as well a view of something that cannot be conquered....the very definition of these castle walls towering over the adjoining grounds.
As I make my way at the top castle, another surprising encounter, this time, face to face with Lord Byron:
Speaking of arrows...here is a Byronic rendition of a poking wound:
"But ever and anon of griefs subdued
There comes a token like a scorpion's sting,
Scarce seen, but with fresh bitterness imbued;
And slight withall may be the things which bring
Back on the heart the weight which it would fling
Aside for ever: it maybe a sound -
A tone of music - summer's eve's or spring -
A flower - the wind - the ocean - which shall wound,
Striking the electric chain wherewith we are darkly bound;"
(Lord George Gordon Byron - Childe Harold`s Pilgrimage - XXIII)
And it is all downhill from here, past the Ducal Mansion and back out of Nottingham's castle gates and the slightly melancholic tone of music Lord Byron alludes follows me around...
...or is it yet another arrow cut loose by the enigmatic Robin Hood?