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Friday, March 10, 2006

The Squire at War, Holding Yet His Sword.

[Picture of Joseph Boyle - the bravest knight I have ever known]

Hello, My name is G.Robin Smith.

I volunteer to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ( In my fundraising emails, letters and fliers, I talk about the story "Holding Yet His Sword" and the poem "The Squire at War". This page is to make it easier for people to find it, read it and share its message. You see to the left a picture of young Joseph Boyle, "The Squire at War". It is his and his family's inspiration that keeps me working to find a cure, and to tell this story.

For more information on donating or in helping organize a fundraising performance of "Benjamin Franklin - Innovative American!" please see the contact information at the bottom of this Weblog. Thank you.

"Holding Yet His Sword" © 1995, 2006, 2008 GregRobin Smith & Cym Early-Smith.

In February 1994, my wife Cym and I had the honor and privilege of meeting a young champion of knightly virtue. Joseph Boyle loved everything about the knights. He would happily and repeatedly sit through all of "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves". He had a castle play-area, tiny-armed warriors, a plastic suit of armor and a toy sword.

His mother heard that we teach classes in Medieval history, so one day she called to ask if we would visit Joseph for his birthday. We were scheduled to meet at their home but received a call shortly before to say that Joseph was in the children's cancer ward due to a relapse, and "would we mind visiting him there?" In our programs, we try to re-create elements of the Middle Ages because we believe in the ideals of that age: the chivalry, the honor, and the quests for noble deeds. Such a quest was before us now: "Of course we will come."

We came in full court costume, my Lady in long gown and veil and I in my steel and leather armor. We crowded into his hospital room as best we could. It was stuffed with family, friends, hospital staff, his play castle and party paraphernalia. We sang them songs, played music and games, put the party guests in some armor and observed a truly loving family, standing together against great odds. After we left, I was so inspired by the example of this family and the obvious love that bound them all, I wrote a simple sonnet in tribute to them and called it, "The Squire at War".

In later weeks, we continued to visit and sway they had posted the poem to the wall by his bed. When he was able to leave the hospital, Joseph and his family would come by the local tournament practice site of our medieval group to meet "the knights doing battle." Our attempts to bring back the glory of the past meant a great deal to Joseph. His obvious interest meant a great deal to us. We were able to show him that his dream of knighthood was not just imaginary. It did exist, and he was part of it.

One day, later that Fall, Joseph’s mother called to tell us in a very calm voice that Joseph was no longer in pain because he was with God now, having died the day before. She thanked me for the poem and for our visits and for the fact that, through those visits, Joseph had seen his dreams about knighthood come to life.

His family had brought Joseph home when there was nothing more the medical world could do for him. But even so, Joseph lived five days beyond all expectations. His mother said it was because he believed in the strength of his warrior's heart. She also told us that near the end, Joseph did not want to wear his plastic armor anymore. “Because, he said, "only healthy knights should be in armor." He would, however, lie upon the floor, weakened and in pain, holding yet his sword. His Mother said that they would bury their son with that sword by his side. Without knowing it, they had re-created one of the most ancient parting rituals known: the burying of a personal weapon with a warrior gone on to the next world.

Joseph's battle with the dragon of Leukemia ended on September 14, 1994.
He was 3 and half years old.

His family remains supportive and loving of life and Joseph's memory and we have remained friends. They attended our wedding -- all four of them: his mother, father, younger sister and the spirit of Joseph -- as inspiring an example of knightly ideals as ever lived.

The following is the poem done in tribute to Joseph's -- and his family's -- fight.

In service, humility, sadness and hope, I remain, G.Robin Smith
(Or as Joseph knew me, "Sir Brand").

"The Squire at War"

Not yet had summer's suns seen play enough.
No rivers had yet given up their catch.
Too little had the snowy drifts of fluff
Seen sleds of singing youth go hap'ply past.

Too soon the battle came to those at hand
When young, and younger still, were called to fight.
With weapons barely tempered, this brave band
Of families refused both fear and flight.

Yet on, and on, and on the foemen rode.
No toll could seem to make him slow nor yield.
Again, again, again the fortress told
Of Bravery and Love borne as a Shield.

Come night and sun and witness how they stand
And grant some gladness for this time at hand."

Came knight and son, and witnessed where they stood
And grieved in sadness for the loss of "should." --
--Yet smile with joy, and tell of heroes bold!
For bravery's not just borne by those of Olde

(c) 2008 by G.Robin Smith & Cym Early-Smith, Everett, WA.
All Rights Reserved. For permission to republish contact us at
You may give out this Website address, of course.

To donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Foundation or for information about hosting a fundraiser (for any worthy cause) go to and look for the latest fundraiser link. See for basic program information.

Support and Sponsorship gratefully received from Hardwick & Sons, Inc. (

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