Canto 19: Seven Years War

The most persistent sound which reverberates through man’s history is the beating of war drums

Arthur Koestler


Colonial War

Say not the struggle naught availeth,
The labour & the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth
Arthur Hugh Clough

Europe shapes peace at sleepy Aix-Chapelle,
Paris & London, locking niggle-horn,
Shall sheathe their fencing rapiers a spell:-
One drawn by those by Mayflower bourne;
Americans –
Pride & guts & battle –
Point their English guns at the Redskins rattle.

Franklin’s squadron shall slowly push
Thro’ legendary greenwood,
A whoosh of tomahawk, ‘‘Ambush!”
As sickening slices thud,
On ancyent soil did gloop & gush
This sacrificial blood,
& hope the warring spirits to appease –
Young Washington to Fort George ducks & flees.

The French are sitting on Quebec,
The British in Boston,
But both a freckle’s freckl’d speck,
Or stride whose marathon
Runs where exists the ancyent six nations of Indian.

Ohio
1754


Earthquake!

Out-worn heart, in a time out-worn,
Come clear of the nets of wrong & right;
Laugh, heart, again in the grey twilight
WB Yeats

Old Portugal still European prince,
Lord of diamoniferous Amazon,
Capital rarely match’d before or since,
Watch’d golden sunrise, but by nightfall gone;
Under the sea,
Ground would groan & bellow,
Sending the Tsunami to lay old Lisbon low.

First her famous towers topple,
Now the flames follow the flood,
Legacies lost in the rubble.
Mass’d thousands slain where they stood,
Bursting man’s beautiful bubble
As only nature could,
Her message deliver’d with a shiver,
From Rochester to the Guadalquivir.

The world wilts beneath the pressure,
Doom-stricken with intent,
France, Austria, Britain, Prussia,
A brooding continent,
All waiting for war’s catalyst or one they would invent.

Europe
1755


Pre-emptive Strike

Mark now the proof I give thee, that the brave
Need no such aids as superstition lends,
To steel their hearts against the dread of death
William Cowper

Musing at the Sans Souci, free from care,
Fred’rick shall contemplate his nation’s fate,
A friend & confidente of Herr Voltaire,
Thinks deep into the future of the state;
The answers come,
Great powers on each side,
To solve the conundrum to warfare all must slide.

If he who laughs last laughs longest,
Those striking first strike strongest
Facing the self-inflicted test,
Fred’rick proclaims the contest,
Now men in battle must he best,
No momentary rest
For Russia, Austria & France allied –
Only Great Britain tends the Prussian side.

He proves once more that genius
Exists in martial arts,
His warriors victorious
For battle’s many parts
Like children kept; from ammo carts to patriotic hearts.

Saxony
1756


Struggling For Existence

Owl, owl,
You’ve already taken my chicks:
Don’t destroy my nest
Trad. China (Pin)

Europe’s Princes provinces overwhelm;
Sweden possesses Pomerania
France mops the British from each German realm
& Russians rules the roost in East Prussia;
As Berlin falls
To lion Budapest,
The butchery appals a new enlighten’d west.

Both Paris & Vienna slack,
Thinking the war completed,
Feeling Fred’rick would not attack
With provisions outpeter’d –
Such flash of lightning at Rossbach!
Totally defeated,
Escaping thro’ Thuringen forestry –
A clueless, cannonless calamity.

The clawing winds of winter bite
For warm climes birds are fled,
Six hours of light, a stunning fight,
Another field of fight,
But for thick-feather’d carrion so viscerally fed.

Leuthen
1757


Birth of the Raj

The world is changed with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
GM Hopkins

How arrogant is man that thro one war,
Thinks peoples will subdue, but do indeed,
When charismatic leaders to the fore
Have work’d upon the natives private greed;
Sir Robert Clive
Leaves the Madras clutter –
How many would survive the Black Hole of Calcutta.

The Nawab left Murshidbad
With the barons of Bengal,
They thought that Clive was raving mad
To pitch camp & fight at all,
Vastly outnumber’d, but he had
The luck of that dice roll,
The barons knew the balance of power
Had shifted to the white man that black hour.

Commemorated victory,
Mumbai renamed Bombay,
Pondicherry storm’d from the sea,
The French fled in dismay,
From Ramadan to Diwali for peace the peasants pray.

India
1758


Conquering Canada

We buried him darkly at dead of night,
The sods with our bayonets turning,
By the struggling moonbeam’s misty light
Charles Wolfe

The global visions of William the Pitt,
See certain sections shaded Preston red,
A puzzle with one piece struggling to fit,
Like racing gates with horses poorly bred;
Chess-player sent
To North America,
With one present intent, to conquer Canada.

Beyond my triple metaphor
Sit the pretty English fleet,
Spit-snarling like the dogs of war,
Quebecois quake in the street,
Night helps slip silent boats to shore,
Outflanking move complete,
Stood with his officers at break of day
Chiaroscuro on a page of Gray…

“I would rather have that composed,
Than gain the hot day’s fame!”
The armies closed, all problems posed
Brought down with shot & flame,
“They run, they run!” tho’ dying his checkmate had won the game.

Quebec
1758


Sumner & Stemmler

Clamour raised upon clamour
Rattle of armour, death squeals,
A mind, erratic within
Burns Singer

The Britons bless their miraculous year,
When empire many hectares did increase,
Upon the continent her troops appear
Set to remove France from her German lease;
With Prussian friends,
Sharing a common blood,
March where the Weser wends thro wheatfield & wild wood.

“This is fuckin’ killin’ mi feet,”
Jeff Sumner moan’d on the road,
Once press-gang’d from a Preston street,
Now a well-paid blade abroad
Helps to pursue the French defeat,
The borders are restor’d
As lines of allied cavalry enshock
Cuirassiers, as waves break on the rock.

While trawling thro those wheat-fields won,
Jeff saw a French ‘corpse’ move
& point a gun at some Prussian –
This threat Jeff did remove
Death-shot that saved Paul Stemmler has commenc’d the Karmic groove.

Minden
1759


Martial Romance

I am maddened with words
and no-one has managed to tell me
why the men are killing each other
Lucia Sanchez Saornil

Paul call’d upon his cousin at Colditz,
To pass the weeks that were his precious leave,
To meet a woman having hissy fits,
More beautiful than his heart could believe;
With just one kiss
He caught her flailing soul,
A wooing world of bliss, a cooer to his call.

When he went off to the muster
She was pregnant with his seed,
“I am in love,” he told Blucher,
Many soldiers we shall breed
To maintain beloved Prussia!”
“By god, them do we need,
So many paid the full price at Zorndorf,
Hochkirch, Maxen, Dresden & Kunesdorf.”

Tho’ men exigious, Frederick
Puts Prussia on a par,
But stream of victory phyrric
Has dull’d his warring star,
Just ten thousand brave hearts await the martial coup de gras.

Torgau
1760


Exhausted Peace

Blissfully lying
Under the falling blossoms
A skeleton
Enomoto Seifu

The spring blooms of a generation gone,
Some daisy-beds, some lucky to grow old,
How many names bore ‘La Guerre de Sept Ans,’
How many famous stories to be told?
As lovers rest,
Ladies tire of legend,
Economies depress’d, folk will the Wars to end.

Deft as gliding ballerina
Sweden sidesteps the conflict
With the new Russian Tsarina,
This war too hard to predict
For Tom Thumb & Thumbelina
In thumb war cramp have click’d –
Even Great Britain from the fight dost flit,
Her new clown king closing the age of Pitt.

Loquacious diplomatic spree
Warms up the winter hours,
An unfriendly hostility
Presses down the powers,
Scratching their caps oer global maps as monkeys inspect flowers.

Paris
1763

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s