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The Devil's Song of Ismelda the Sixth

by Vilnius

'Twas in the dark of the morning

that the Old Queen had breathed her last.

'Twas in the dark of the morning

that a sorrowful shadow cast

o'er Allegoria, Kingdom fair

to the North, o'er the Sea.

'Twas in the dark of the morning

that the Queen at last met me.


She'd lived a long life, this I knew,

from cent'ry to cent'ry as few folk now do.

Ismelda was aged cent'ry and a half,

so I went easy on the gal for her behalf.


"Born was I, o'er the Sea,

creator of many a surgery!

I kept them alive

the Light of the world,

I gave birth to the Darkness,

the Evil in the world,

and this is how my story's unfurled."


I looked to the Queen and replied with a sigh,

"Why is that you, dear woman, must die?

You were great in life, and are stronger in Death,

but now you join the Devil's Folk beneath the cliffs."


"I mothered the evil," she reminded me,

"I mothered the darkness, Jaques vra Jeanardé.

Alas that my son turned from his mothers ways

and killed the Fair Folk that lived o'er the waves."


I nodded, sighed again, and looked to the sky,

and questioning God, I once more asked "Why?

Why should these great people, these saints and apostles,

join me here, from King Mike the First to old Aristotle?"


The Lord in his kindness did not reply,

but nevertheless I looked to the sky.

I took the Queen's hand and led her to the regions below,

and young she was again, her eyes aglow.


Ismelda the Sixth from Allegoria fair,

bright were her eyes, long was her hair.

Ancient damnation, holy was she,

Ismelda the Sixth from over the Sea!


Personal Commentary:

Ismelda the Sixth is one of a very large, boistrous, and somewhat annoying cast of characters living in an alternate world in which magic has all but died, the only sentient non-humans are the dying Dryads, and the main characters never get a break from their sorrows until the year 2072. (The story began in 2016. You do the math.)

Born a princess of Allegoria, a wealthy and aristocratic nation reminding me of a kinder French monarchy, Ismelda went on to create numerous surgeries, including an (in)famous Resurrection surgery. The Resurrection Surgery was created to save other nations from collapse and rebuild one of the most powerful nations in the world at that time, the Belecthorian Empire, which had collapsed due to infighting and lack of a Dragonheart Family heir. Ismelda's actions saved the good in the world at that time. (2026)

In 2066, her son (Jaques) turned on the Belecthorian remnants and retook Allegoria on his own from the Thiran Empire. There, he re-established the monarchy and began fascist dictatorship. By 2072, he was fighting a full-on war with the remnants. Upon winning the war and retaking the world at large, the remnants through Jaques in prison at Ismelda's request.

Ismelda passed on in her sleep aged 150 in 2104.

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959 Reviews

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Reviews: 959

Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:51 pm
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alliyah wrote a review...

Hi VP!

Here to review your poem on behalf of the knights of the Afterwatch, let's get started.

So first, I'm a little confused about the commentary at the end? I was thinking this was a historical poem, but I guess it's a poem sort of based on a story you're writing? It's definitely cool that you put the contextualization of the piece at the end of the poem - but I could use a bit of information about what this is from - whether it's your personal series, or a fan fiction, or what's going on here a bit.

Let's get to the poem itself -

that the Old Queen had breathed had last.
<- you have one too many "hads" here. The flow is off, I think you mean, "the old queen had breathed her last" or "at last".

It's interesting that at a few points you break out of the formal language to be a bit more informal and casual like here, "so I went easy on the gal for her behalf." - calling the Queen "gal" really shows the dynamic between the devil? speaker and the subject, and is an interesting juxtaposition within the rest of the piece.

I don't understand why a few of your stanzas end in quote marks? What is being quoted? I don't think it's necessary.

""Why is that you, dear woman, must die?"

This question's wording doesn't make sense I think it should be "Why is it that you" - and I'm a bit confused why the devil is asking this as they'd been presented as more of a grim reaper character, but it looks like you're going a different route. Definitely read through your poems outloud to catch some of these little wording issues.

his mothers ways
this needs an apostrophe on "mother's" because it's possessive.

I took the Queen's hand and led her to the regions below...
-> I don't think the use of ellipses (...) helps because that's not a particularly suspenseful point in the poem, so it ends up being a tad distracting.

So at the end of the poem, I'm a bit unclear on what happened, the first part is farily straight forward - she died, has a meeting with the devil who questions her, and then I guess she goes along with them to hell? But why does it talk about how holy she is in that case? I'm not really understanding what's happening.

I really think the whole character of whoever the speaker is needs more development - they don't really act like a devil - they aren't joking or taunting, they're just asking questions and seem to be pretty adoring to the queen. I think their character needs to be given greater clarity within the poem for us as readers to understand what's happening.

My favorite aspect of the poem was probably the word language and flow - you did a good job being consistent with the older formal language, to set a certain mood, but then diverted a couple points in a way that added some humor and personality to the piece. The flow also was fairly good. My main suggestion for improvement is work on clarifying what precisely is happening at the end of this piece - I don't know if perhaps you intend for this poem to be within like a novel you're writing? In that case, maybe it's given more after-context to help it make sense, but as it stands I'm having a bit of a hard time following. Best of luck in your editting and writing!!

- alliyah

Vilnius says...

Note to self-- turn Grammarly back on, even if it hates your made up names XD

To answer your first question, yes, this comes from many notes and personal works. I provided the commentary as a sort of mini-obituary to give anyone interested in Ismelda's life a few more details.

My idea with this poem is that Ismelda has, as intended, passed on in her sleep and ended up going to Hell. She'd done so much good in her life, and yet her sins were many. The Devi is supposed to be questioning why someone who had done so many great things, despite her sins, was still being condemned. A sort of... paradox, I guess. He's nice to her because even Satan believes Ismelda needs and deserves a rest (just ask Stringbean, her character was married to Ismelda's son-- not fun).

I'm debating whether this should appear in a main portion of things I'm writing or if instead I should add it to a list of poems I've written about this fictional world but are not mentioned/used in the main storyline. There are other poems like it, including one in the works regarding one of Ismelda's grandchildren.

Thank you for your review, and have a nice day!

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546 Reviews

Points: 4405
Reviews: 546

Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:43 pm
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Magebird wrote a review...

Hey there, VP! I saw this work lingering in the Green Room and hanging out in the Literary Spotlight, so I thought I would try my hand at reviewing it.

To start off this review: I love the style you used when writing this poem! It makes the poem feel much older than it is, despite being written in 2020 and being set in 2104. Seeing that the world that the poem is set in has a magical twist, and that the Devil is the one narrating the poem, I think that's the perfect way to present a little snapshot of your world to your readers.

Rose_Monarch mentioned in their review down below that they were able to get a good idea of the story from the poem alone. I wholeheartedly agree with that! Reading the explanation at the bottom certainly made me appreciate the poem more, but you have a knack for storytelling through poetry. I hope this is one of many narrative poems you end up posting on YWS. :)

I especially like the moral twist you pull with the Devil. In older stories that I've read, the Devil is often an antagonist - the protagonist is trying to stop the Devil from taking their soul after a deal gone sour. In this, the Devil feels almost human. You also bring up the moral complexity of different historical/Biblical figures with the lines down below:

I nodded, sighed again, and looked to the sky,
and questioning God, I once more asked "Why?
Why should these great people, these saints and apostles,
join me here, from King Mike the First to old Aristotle?"

I'm not sure where you're from, but this stanza and its meaning really sticks out to me as an American right now, given that there's so many conversations regarding the inherent "goodness" of historical figures. This poem really does a great job exploring the grays in between the usual moral black and white.

The only critiques I have for this poem are a few grammar mistakes - I couldn't find anything else that needed improvement.

las that my son turned from his mothers ways

There should be an apostrophe after the "r" in "mothers".

and questioning God, I once more asked "Why?

You forgot a comma after "asked". :)

The Lord in his kindness did not reply,

I'm not religious so I'm not entirely sure what the rules for capitalizing pronouns/names involving God are, but I think "his" should be "His".

Upon winning the war and retaking the world at large, the remnants through Jaques in prison at Ismelda's request.

"through" should be "threw".

To finish off this review, I'll quote a line that I just noticed when rereading your poem in search of the grammar issues I noticed before I started this review - I just can't get over the juxtaposition/paradox of these five words!

Ancient damnation, holy was she,

I'm happy this work is in the literary spotlight already - it certainly deserves to be there!

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5 Reviews

Points: 485
Reviews: 5

Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:10 pm
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Stringbean says...

I really like this one! Lol when I get home and have my computer, I'll try to write an actual review, but for now I love this. That is all XD

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Points: 56
Reviews: 3

Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:59 am
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RoseMonarch wrote a review...

This poem does a great job of telling me who Ismelda the Sixth is, even without reading the commentary. The fact that even the Devil questions why she's going to Hell does a lot for how good of a person the rider think she is. Your Old English diction in the poem really sets the tone and is an interesting juxtaposition compared to the year 2104. The pace of the poem is quite nice, seeming to rhyme now and then. Your world-building is really interesting, and I find myself wanting to know more about all the kingdoms and empires. Question: Is the Devil real in this world, or is this a piece of fiction written by a citizen of this world?

Vilnius says...

Well, first off, thanks for the review! Ismelda has long been one of my favorite royals in my world, and after some of the stuff she's dealt with, I figured she more-or-less deserved some rest.

Secondly, regarding your question, I had this poem in mind for a novelist, Victoria Oliver Junior. Her mother, V.O. Senior, likely would have written a lengthy article and book depicting Ismelda's life, but sadly she was killed in a bombing attack that was an international event in 2067.

Vilnius says...

Regarding the kingdoms and world-building--
My dear friend @Stringbean and I are preparing to write a prequel novel together, set to take place before any nations formed in 1066 BC. It will start roughly 150 years before that year, and will carry on at least a few years (I think).

RoseMonarch says...

Okay, that sounds super cool. I'll be sure to tune in for that. Good luck!

Vilnius says...


The mind of man is capable of anything - because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future.
— Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness