Canto 13: Mongols

Indica tigris agit rabida cum tigride pacem perpetuam; Saevis inter se convenit ursis… Ast homini ferrum letale incude nefanda produxisse parum est


Ghengiz Khan

East of Eden is mountains & desert & every
thing creeps up on you & comes in the night,
Paul Blackburn

The babe born with a blood-clot in his fist
Knew fratricide before his father died –
Posion’d by rival tribesmen – the promised
Inheritance was his, & now a bride;
Naught did they lack,
& led, they, simple life,
’Til bad Chief Krull attack’d & stole away his wife.

As from defeat the notion springs
Of victory’s existence,
Brave Temujin tightens bowstrings,
Makes men respect insistance,
& launch’d them on vendetta’s wings
To a violent vengeance,
& saving his dear wife from devil’s den
He boil’d alive Chief Krull & all his men.

This was no ordinary soul,
Spirit excelsior,
Who hears the rolling thundercall
Of conquest & of war,
When all the surface of the world shall tremble at his awe.



It is bitter
To walk among strangers
When the strangers are in one’s own land
Iain Crichton Smith

The Crescent League cries faith & sacred war;
Turban’d Berbers, pitch-black Afric captains,
Pristine Emirs, the shark-paced Almacor,
Sunburn’d Saracens & Syrians;
Lord at the helm,
One man unites them all,
To raze Outremer’s realm & seize the Wailing Wall.

Damascus & Aleppo fall
To the dark Mujahaddin,
Crushing Christian armies small
At that slaughter at Hattin,
“Allah!” the cause, “Allah!” the call,
“Allah! & we shall win!”
At last, on Heaven’s city look’d he down,
There man-on-man press’d forwards for renown.

The situation sacrosanct
Beneath a saffron sky,
The Templars thank’d their lord, outflank’d,
They knew them set to die,
But to preserve this Paradise they could but only try.


Frederick Barbarossa

The glories of our birth & state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against fate
James Shirley

Being the European Suzerain,
Capp’d by the Iron Crown of Lombardy,
Red-bearded leader, redux Charlemagne,
First Chapiter of Milites Christi;
Heard stirring aria,
“Seek your souls’ salvations, march with the Emperor!”

Waltzing off to war’s grave meeting
With firm, steady demeanour,
Pounding hearts in strong chests beating,
Ventricles lusting vigour,
As on their arms, golden gleaming,
Daylight tinting brighter,
Pregnant with promise of a perfect day,
The mighty breath of life in human clay.

Alas! it was a little stream
That kill’d a god-like king,
A drowning dream…Heaven dost gleam
Thro’ Selaph’s glimmering,
There Seraphs beckon utterwards towards the reckoning!


Richard I

This desert, to which you came
with two raised palms like an absurd hope,
no longer begets prophets
Amjad Nasser

The Lionheart of England goes to war;
His helm: respect-expostulating deeds,
His sword: the sacred fury of god’s law,
His shield: the lamb & all his righteous needs;
His pond’rous mace,
Shall shatter waggling foes,
His head: his noble grace, his heart: an English Rose.

Seeking Allah’s extirpation,
Preaching peace, but wielding war,
Making trails of acerbation,
“Come & fight!” corbrechtan roar,
Confrontations, hesitation,
Runs thro Mohammed’s corps,
As all along the front His Highness rode
No man dare meet the challenge of his sword.

Sa-Lah-Din & his great army
Repell’d from Arsuf plain,
But victory, elusively,
From both men would abstain,
Instead… peace nervous spreads for prayers, burials & pain.


Teutonic Knights

Need to belong has made me come
to help rebuild Jerusalem,
where everyone is family
Karen Gershon

A thirsty seige, sunrise follows sunrise,
An endless killing, moats filling with dead,
Breeding legions of disease-spreading flies,
Maggots burrow’d in mouldy, meagre bread;
Behind which walls
A German hospital
Of dedicated souls, primes for zealous battle.

In the long wars of religion
At the gates of Christendom,
Suffering their faith in fusion
With lord god & His bellum,
Happy Hanseatic legion,
Ordu Pugnatorum,
Raising the lofty flag of Heaven’s fight,
Teutonic in their blood, in blade a knight!

As tired beseigers melt away
Inspired Crusaders cheer,
Then kneel & pray, them to this day
Knew God’s justice would steer,
Sensing their lot was spared by fate, but for what course unclear.


Spanish Rebirth

The hymn falls silent, the stone bleeds.
The prayers chafe against the stone. The voices chafe
against the prayer. The hymn chafes against the stone.
Eva Ström

The troubadour descended from the ben,
In him was human artistry allied,
Singing of arms & empires & the men
Whom battles fought & kingdoms gentrified;
Bold verses move
Castille’s resplendent court,
Men’s valors set to prove when Reconquista fought!

El Cid’s endeavours have enflamed
The trains of Spain’s militia,
For far too long they’ve been ashamed
Of a native patria;
Navarra, Aragon, reclaim’d
With gold Galicia;
No more uprose the five-times daily din
Of Muslims by the bull-finch Muezzin.

The Almohads of Africa
Are sent to stem the tide,
Grand armada thro’ Grenada,
But murder meets the stride,
As six progressive centuries of Islam’s light hath died.

Las Navas de Toloda

Mongol Threat

The mountain Sharshar he turned into a void
he felled the trees of the forest of cedar.
The woodland looked as if traversed by the Deluge
Erra & Ishum

The dark tribes, unified beneath one king,
Traverse the Gobi, pierce Qin Shi Huang’s Wall,
Bring all their might to bare upon Beijing,
As conquerors absorb its cultured soul;
Heartlands of history,
Mongol imperium marching off to glory.

By mountain, forest, steppe & sea,
Go the Khan’s ambassadors,
Insulting Persian perfidy
Sends two of them back headless,
Decapitates diplomacy,
Ghengiz felt bitterness,
& pointing westwards with a frozen sword
A storm of arrows oer the Silk Road soar’d.

That blood-debt settl’d & repaid
Five hundred thousand times,
A cavalcade of violence flay’d
A path thro’ Persian climes,
T’where Christendom & Islam trembles at the Mongol’s crimes.


Mongol Advance

where the wind remembers the enemy
where the moon is yellow & horned
I walk’d as tho’ in the sea’s depth
Anna Akhmatova

Tho’ Ghengiz Khan is dead what spirit soars
Boundless, as the impenetrable skies,
Now his young horselets view the coursing wars
Thro’ slanting & steel-hued rapacious eyes;
Warrior race,
Blood-forg’d formidable,
Whole villages erase – scenes indescribable!

Thro’ hillswept Urals hoof-prints pound,
Then splash thro’ Volga’s water,
At Novogrod the godless found
Resistance earns, ‘No quarter!
Trails of deda bodies choke the ground
Kiev on to Georgia,
There noble men grovel for liberty –
The bloody swamp of Mongol slavery!

Young Morad rode into the west
For all the gold men made,
Yon Budapest onto the crest
Of Christendom’s crusade,
Til forests high & haunted halt the heathen cavalcade!


Mamluk Dawn

By torch and trumpet fast arrayed,
Each horseman drew his battle blade,
And furious every charger neighed
Thomas Campbell

When the disaffected rise from slumber,
Ye gentlemen, afraid be of your slaves,
Else Spartacus admit to that number
& garden weeds cover thy royal graves;
In auld Egypt,
Boldly the slave-race grew,
Wheeling on an edict, a military coup!

This new paras enters the game
Of Palestein’s knotted plots,
Wishing to win outrageous fame
& those precious pepper pots,
Being the first to inflict shame
Of loss that glory rots,
As coming on the roving Mongol horde
Men, one-by-one, along the ridge, draw sword.

Morad stood in the bodygaurd
Of his great lord Ordu,
The fighting hard, the day ill-starr’d,
The royal horse withdrew,
An unexpected moment, ‘Full retreat,’ blew Hulegu.

Ayn Jelut


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