Canto 18: Europe At War

If you live among wolves you have to act like a wolf

Nikita Kruschev

Glorious Revolution

In those moments
Neptune’s word had breathed in off the ocean
& carried away Cygnus
Ted Hughes

E’er since Prince Henry with Rome schism made
English papists grate the gist from friction,
King James, taunted today by Judas’ shade,
Bows to the jurisdiction Vatican;
Rise angry shouts,
Entreason’d parliament,
“Send out a world of scouts, scour out a Protestant!”

So, who shall be London’s saviour,
Wear the crown & thrust the pike,
Swing the Tudor wunderkammer,
Triumph all with timely strike?
Fate has brought the Dutch Stadholder
(After France drown’d in his dyke),
To land an army on the Saxon shore,
When, wanting not another civil war

Strange zeitgeist sets King James aflight,
Parisian, a pawn,
First Jacobite… without a fight
Upon a vacant throne,
King Billy dons the triple-crown on Scotias’s ancyent stone.


Alexander MacDonald

children of forest & mountain,
with their eyes they could behold themsleves,
their voices named the animals
Homero Aridjis

Tho’ lurkest one great novel in us all,
Most author’s thoughts are raided by despair,
Whose masterpieces never start at all,
While others grow too dull to sit, & bare;
Only the keen
Struggle with conviction,
Feeling each earthly scene perfect for non-fiction.

In Glen Etive was born a boy
To walk my poem’s pages,
Heroism akin to Troy
Shall echo down the ages,
Man’s foremost skills his to employ
Cross life’s varied stages –
Calamity strikes this wee MacDonald,
Witness to screaming clansmen being cull’d.

His mother hid him in a tree
& finger-hushes lips,
She turns to flee, sharp musketry
Thro’ back & bosom zips,
Tho’ orphanized ‘fore teary eyes him to safe silence slips.



Lord, these are Thine! With soldierly tread
Without a tremor they go their way,
Singing a hymn they march ahead
Lucian Watkins

King William conjures an alliance,
Boring the flesh of Louis to the bone,
His sea-lions scuttle the fleet of France
& cut the fuming Stuarts from the throne;
Now Scotland’s kings
With England entangl’d,
Whose majority brings matters Saxon-angl’d,

For politics do prosper well
Courting the royal ego,
When loyal kinship casts a spell,
Rarely letting fetters go –
But on digress my verse has fell,
So on, on with the show!
Marching along the sandy Danube shore
The Sun-King sent fresh conscripts to the war.

Behold the Duke of Marlborough,
John Churchill him became,
Faithful leader of firm vigour,
Putting the French to flame,
Forever his descendants leaves a very famous name.


Treaty of Utrecht

Woe to thee, wild Ambition! I employ
Despair’s low notes thy dread effects to tell;
Born in high heaven, her peace thou coulds’t destroy
Maria Brooks

As Peneus & Alpheus combin’d,
England & Holland wash the wound of France,
Pour thwarting salts within; bloodthirsty, blind,
Into his dotage Louis did advance;
Dictating still
Quarrellings of nations,
Arse far from battle’s thrill & war’s degregations.

Then… what has France gain’d from his war?
Her towns depopulated,
Enemy pirates at the shore,
Her fields uncultivated,
Her country houses wick with Poor,
Death unsatiated –
At first, with Warfare men, say tis a sport,
But by the end just horrors they’ll report.

At last the Sun-King sues for peace,
His paradise preserve,
By this increase Europa’s police,
Great Britain & her verve,
Possess Pillars of Hercules thro’ which all sealanes swerve.


One Woman’s War

Her suffering ended with the day,
Yet lived she at its close,
& breathed the long, long night away
James Aldrich

She met him, in the hot flush of her youth,
Working the lobster-pots of Port Appin,
’Tween creamy kisses lips scream passion’s truth,
So wed for love, her kinsmen took him in;
She bore three sons,
Each wore her husband’s name –
The sounds of pipes & guns towards their idyll came.

Alexander away did ride,
Joining with the Jacobite,
Tho’ calm she seemeth, the outside,
Tears drench her pillow by night,
& trembling all her time did bide
For news of distant fight,
When certain words within her soul would burn,
“O mother, when will father dear return?”

Her prayers answer’d happily,
He strolls in with the mail,
Balances three sons on each knee,
Told them a stirring tayle
Of Highlanders proud marching for a cause that must prevail.


Peter the Great

In church the bell is tolled,
In barracks at the last bugle note
Soldiers like ants file
Stephen Lubega

As nature shapes races, races nations,
Nations shape kings & these kings shape our lives,
The Tsar commences co-operations
Cutting thro’ coccoonings with psychic knives;
As catwalk craves
Corrective surgery,
This brave reformer waves wands of futurity.

His armies guarantee his fame
& russify the Baltics,
Now ready for the global game,
Tri-fleeted imperatrix,
Rival Sweden retreats in shame,
Licking her cicatrix,
Stockholm’s ambit deflated by his lance,
In coming wars she’ll keep a neutral stance.

City meant to last forever
Uprose with his ego,
Marshy Neva’s magic river
Provides her vital flow,
So she can match his majesty, watching from the window.

St Petersburg

The Great Awakening

And in the Squire’s hall its all riotous fun;
Not like the peasant living by the toil of his shovel,
With a lukewarm vinegar wine to wet his whistle
Shih Chun-pao

Halfling, hedonistic America
Suckles herself on Europe’s throbbing vein,
Vast heaven-sent land to tempt the settler
Of Italy, Germania & Spain;
Wee green towhee
Love luminary dawn;
Both fetterless & free, by breezy morning bourne.

But when rocks by loose pebbles paved,
In a time to try the soul,
The groaning of the damn’d & saved,
Encompass our very all,
When voices raise for the enslaved
& wages rise & fall,
Where Indians push’d into wilderness,
Land of plantations, politics & press.

As from slime crawl lizard-fishes,
Whitfield makes his voice heard,
Modern Jesus coryphaeus
Stability has stirr’d,
Entrench’d in th’indestructable good-ground of Heaven’s word.

North America

Frederick the Great

They held a great prayer-service in Berlin,
& augured German triumph from some words
Said to be spoken by the Jewish God
Karle Wilson Baker

As poet-kings by growing nations crown’d
& expeditions gravid to expand,
A modern grandmaster Teuton has found,
Sweeps thro’ Silesia & Sudetenland;
“Save Austria!”
Empress Maria screams,
All thro’ Bohemia her well-train’d army teems.

Vienna treats with Downing Street
As young Potsdam Paris charms –
With European war complete
Man’s brutality alarms,
As children orphan’d in the street
& snipers strafe the farms –
Since Mollwitz & the Chotusitz affrays
Europa plunged deep in death-hungry days,

In which this Brandenburger shines,
In open glory tore,
Lover of wines, libretto lines
& genius for war
Bringing Prussian policies to the European fore.



The grim, grey fathers, bent wi’ years,
Come stridin’ through the muirland mist,
Wi’ beardless lads scarce by wi’ school
Charles Murray

From frilly sleeves France slips the Stuart sword
& plays it like a Pittsburgh poker ace,
Imperial wars being fought abroad
To Inverness embattl’d armies race;
Ran with his manly sons,
Yelling altogether toward the English guns.

Clan Appin on the right flank fell,
Questing for King & country,
Eye-slicing claymores faced Burell,
Gruesome ends of ancestry
Where Haelan’ hopes turn into hell,
Cumberland butcherie
MacDonald fled, thro’ all the fire & noise,
Heart haunted by the death-screams of his boys.

He comforted his grieving wife,
O my darlin’ Clara,
We’ve too much strife, a better life
Awaits America,”
So sail’d, with their sons’ families, from Scotland… forever!


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