Canto 11: Birth of Nations

The battles may last for a long time, perhaps even years. There are powerful forces on both sides, & the war is important to both armies. Its not a battle of good against evil. Its a war between forces that are fighting for the balance of power, &, when that type of battle begins, it lasts longer than others – because Allah is on both sides.

Paulo Coelho


Byzantium

March to the battle-field,
The foe is now before us ;
Each heart is freedom’s shield
B.E. O’Meara

As love grants star-struck maids immortal youth
When poets pluck a pen, & from two hearts
Syphon the breadth of beauty, bears its truth,
Pouring an airy music thro the parts;
The Roman East
Constantinoples keep,
Its legions far releas’d once more the West to reap!

This was a golden age for Greece
& the ghosts of Pericles,
When freedom from Latin release
Fuels philosophic degrees,
When old Aegean swims in peace,
& empire overseas
A flying rival of that classic past –
Alas! Justinian must breathe his last.

The tough offspring of each bear-skin
Which laid the world once low,
Round Aetna spin, them Rome rewin,
Back-wresting Cathargo,
From lion’s lairs force legionaires & push them from the Po.

Europe
580


Christianitas

I took his dripping corpse upon
my dolphin back & reached the strand;
the beast played saviour to the man
Antiphilus of Byzantium

Along road-ruin the Vicar of Christ
Treads patiently until God leads him home
To this derelict bastion, enticed
Thro’ silted squares, by jilted walls of Rome;
In this sweet place,
A cult of saints begun,
Spreads penitence thro’ grace for murdering His son.

Agents leave that angel centre,
Wielding the growing gospel,
Some reaching Franks of Lutetia
(They’d won that town thro’ battle),
Others harry Hibernia
& serpentrie dispel,
Some preach alone along the Pictish shore –
Light-beacons of Iona & Lismore.

Christ may claim the wild, wild Britons,
But Britain torn in twain –
Fearless Saxons, peerless pagans,
O’er-run the Celtic plain,
Until Augustine mounts the cross in Aethelbert’s domain.

Kent
597


Islamica

Even the flowers greet you as of old;
Then you may well divine in what degree
My heart has already welcome for my friend
Kokin Shu

In pagan Mecca was man-mountain born,
Thro’ meditations in the Hiran cave,
From Heaven’s will Qu’ranic verses shorn,
But shunn’d from town with condescending wave;
Old Medina,
His righteousness perceiv’d,
”Those who pray to Allah by Paradise reciev’d.”

While Meccanese rode to rid
The deserts of its prophet,
Defensive actions made valid
By visions of Mahomet,
Them for a decade far outdid
All rivals threat-by-threat,
& with an empire flowing far & wide
Islam’s first Imam, cleans’d, at Khaibar died.

Those men who tasted the divine
Holler up a sandstorm,
Drive Byzantine from Palestine,
Damascus made their home,
As from the holy city all the papists whipp’d to Rome.

Jerusalem
638


Nippon

You had a land in the age of darkness
unused to suicide or traffic
and its prayer-wheels turned like the sun
Mark Abley

As Allah & Jehova have enchased
The Western World with civilising light,
The presence of the Buddha, bubble-faced,
Enthus’d with life this Chinese satellite;
Ascends Nippon!
Thine emperor, Jimnu
Descended from the sun-god Amaterasu.

Spirit shelter’d by Shinto shields,
Poise proud as sitting vulture,
Peasantry working paddy-fields
Plant rice crops for the future,
Clan-unity & kingship brings
Long seed-times of culture,
When scatter’d settlements conflate & flow
Into an oriental Jericho.

The apple-blossom Japanese
Map out their first city,
Progressive breeze, royal decrees
Admitting monast’ry
& university to study keen-carv’d Koyiki.

Nara
710


March of Islam

In a seaside desert port
that wasn’t yet a city
our grandfather built a wide house
Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb

An endless swirl of eternal Jihad
Sworn duty in the prophet’s sacred name,
Demeaning every other worship bad,
“Serve Allah or consumed be by hell flame!”
As warring ants
Invade the termites’ nest
Islamic olliphants, blown north, south, east & west,

Trade routes galloping thro’ Persia,
Reach Kabul & Samarkand,
Filling the Nile’s fertile delta,
Spilling blood on Tunis sand,
Fleets launching from North Africa
Towards the Promised Land –
An earthly paradise of golden grain –
The Saracens are spreading into Spain.

A city built of pretty bricks
All culture thro’ it flows;
Grecian classics, Med’cine, physics,
Chess pieces, sweeter prose
& Methavita’s mosque of pillars mass’d in classy rows.

Cordoba
751


Monjoie!

his patronage maintains every poet group:
in his palace drinking is no dream
for his great thronging generous troops
Niall Mor

Great Charlemagne has claim’d the Frankish throne,,
The Seat of Christ is his to long sustain,
His blows prodigious yonder Rhine & Rhone,
Brings empire bustling to his sapphire train;
Firm by his side
Valiant Count Roland,
First lion of the pride, Durendal in his hand.

Great Charlemagne a palm’s breadth drew
His sword, Joyeux, for glory,
Nobles from Normandy, Poitou,
Maine, Gascony, Picardie,
Tourain, Flanders, Guyeme, Anjou,
& pretty Brittany,
Traverse the ancyent vales of Ronceveaux,
Spain’s delitescent leagues searing below.

Such a battle is upon us,
Twyx Christian & Moor,
When beauteous Spanish passes
Turn wretched scenes of war,
When fell’d knights, decomposing, food for slugs & nuzzling boar.

Pyrynnees
778


Chansons du Roland

In the distance a star was absorbing
my tiredness, and itself heading like a pilgrim
towards you, leaving blank its place in the heavens
Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi

For France must father Carolinga fly,
Roland commands his rear-guard curtle axe,
This is a day on which brave men must die
As stuttering to the stunning climax
Swarm’d pagans flow,
“Count Roland blow thy horn!”
“Such act would shame me so, we face the foe alone!”

They fought among the dull-hued stones,
Dragon facing Oriflame,
When many splint’ring emir bones
Knew, briefly, Durendal’s name,
The field a symphony of moans,
Winning eternal fame
Only the master of the Franks still stands,
Seizing his oliphant with slimy hands…

Riffs of haunting thunders resound
For fifty leagues or more,
Charles turns around… the battleground
A charnel-house of gore,
That forms the ghostly frontier of a long, religious war.

Ronceveaux
778


Carolingia

The birth canal is yours
Either to open or to close.
Open it you must, dear elders
Hermana Ramarui

On Christmas Day was crown’d great Charlemagne;
King-conqueror, far from his cradle-birth,
He rais’d a triumph in a Caesar’s train,
His armies birds in sky & trees on earth;
Holy empire
On pagan planet won,
From whom his seed shall sire a perfect, spotless son.

This pious Louis took a wife,
All the Angels deem’d her good,
These conjuring more regal life
Protected the sacred blood,
Each wise as Rome, each fair as Fife,
Each strong as Flemish wood,
Each gather’d by their father’s dying bed –
He drew them close & choking phlegma said,

None of ye shall be Emporer,
But each a realm shall reign;
Italia, Germania,
The Franks & Aquitaine…”
Friction on such division stood, fought out on blood-fraught plain.

Aachen
843


Vikings

Then twice six followers from the board
Rushed forth with fierce delight;
They whirled the club, they waved the sword
Esaias Tegnér

Those crow-dark, horse-swift, norse-driven dragons,
Bow-keen, wave-cleaving, crossing western sea,
Quaffing culdee blood from frothing flagons,
Fill Albyn coast with hosts of empery;
Highlands, islands,
New-found Norwegian fjord;
Neutralized thro’ violence – mace, battleaxe & sword.

Those realms bezerker thrust its span,
Entrusted to gods of war,
Yon Lindisfarne, the Isle of Man,
& along the Pictish shore,
Raising a gaze on Aethalstan,
Blood-eagles to the fore,
As days of village pillaging are pass’d,
These traders now intend a raid to last,

Blades rampage thro’ Northumbria,
Roar down the Watling Street,
East Anglia & Mercia
Low-wittl’d with defeat –
How long afore these Saxon Kings are conquer’d, too, complete?

Sanctae Eadmundestow
880

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