Realms
Eternal Flame
Rhiassa
A Knightly Code
On Squiring
As a Way of Life
Knightly Virtues

 

 

 

A Knightly Code

Many people are of the opinion that having the title of knight in some way makes a person larger than life... that it somehow makes them "more" than the common man. While aspects of that may be true, it is not how I prefer to define it. I prefer to believe that no man (or woman) is in any way "greater" than any other. Instead, I have always held that each of us has a duty to fulfill our potential as people and as members of this community as much as we possibly can, and that a knight is an individual who has progressed further than most others on this path.

Knighthood, therefore, is an ideal that we all approach in some manner or another as we seek to improve our community and ourselves. A line I am fond of repeating (and I think I attribute to Steve Johnson) is "First you become a knight in your heart. Later on, someone else takes notice and you receive a belt."

Years ago I happened upon a poem by Rudyard Kipling in which he describes the essential qualities of being a man in full. In it as well I feel are the essential qualities of being a knight in this community and have since adopted it as my own knightly code. As I look at the men and women for whom I have the highest respect, I see aspects of each of them in these following lines. I think you will as well.

"IF" by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And --which is more-- you'll be a Man, my son!

Indeed these are powerful words and I am confident that at least some part of it has rung true as you have read it. The first task that I assign my squires is to read this poem and seek in it a deeper understanding of what knighthood means to them. I would task anyone who wishes to someday wear a belt to do the same.

One final note. Crucial to Kipling's concept of the ideal man, and indeed my concept of the ideal knight is that they paint a picture of a person who *is* larger than life, who is "more" than the common man. No human being, no matter how disciplined, can always exemplify each of these virtues in every word and deed and I am quick to admit that I fall short on these grounds not infrequently. However, it is in holding ourselves up to this example, even as we fall short of it, that we find personal growth. Though we may never acquire each of them in full, it is in approaching these ideals that we each walk our own personal path towards knighthood.

Become that knight in your heart. Someone will take notice. Of that I have no doubt.

- Jason Rosa, KoR, KoEF