Canto 22: Ascension

Forsooth the men ye buy
Will come back better soldiers


Arthur Wellesley

To be yourself not who you were taught
Not the shell in which you are caught
Not the trivia in which you are embroiled
Sudi Nshimiyimana

How noble is the English sense of war
Embodied in this headlet of the realm,
From taming, fresh, the Tyger of Mysore
More heroes push’d he at the heated helm;
Aiming their guns
Aswathe the sable hordes,
What blasting hot death stuns those elephant & swords!

What brought him to this victory –
Celebrated with French wine –
Was a sense of common decency,
The command of details fine,
The securance for his army
Of vital supply line,
& stood upon unruly battlefield
What cool head & intelligence revealed?

Maratha Rajas & their shield
Melt to a mind’s mirage,
Since Plassey’s field all classes yield
To this new rising Raj,
Where skirmish after skirmish natives fill the repercharge.



The corners of your eyes
sparkle and they glisten
when you speak your solid words
Kunanbaev Ibragim Abai

Upon a wrathful path of senseless pain,
Napoleon dares London to oppose,
His flourit an Estrildis to obtain,
As on all sides his gaudy glory grows;
Around his bride,
Radiance rarely seen,
Beloved by his side the fairy Josephine.

A pious Pope appears from Rome
Midst pompous celebration,
’Neath Notre Dame’s delicious dome
Performs the coronation,
With mumbling words crumbling sandstone
Waning hesitation,
“Worry not, for I shall do it instead!”
An emperor crowns his own well-comb’d head.

“Rejoice! Rejoice!” from town to town
Flutters festivity,
His purple gown & sparkling crown
Carried to Italy,
“Long live the King!” a call to fill the halls of Lombardy.


Invasion’s Verge

I have lived in the ecstasy of battle.
The throbbing of guns, growing yearly,
Had been drum music to my ears
Herbert Read

The conqueror chokes up the Channel coast
His Grand Armee’s grand camp, & grander still
The ambition to sail this eager host
Across the tide to execute the kill;
Two thousand boats,
Two hundred thousand sons,
Twenty-five thousand goats with countless swords & guns.

Ambition turns to thwarted dreams
For fishes out of water,
Who thought naught could avert their schemes,
Britannia saved from slaughter,
Her Nelson steering steely beams
Frown-afraid to fight her,
Villeneuve diverted from the myrtle seas
Into Cadiz, via the Antilles.

As dispatch reach’d the Emperor,
This is gross betrayal!”
With, “Sacre Bleu!” with “Merde! Mon deiu!”
He curs’d his admiral,
“Then let us march to Austria, I must have my battle.”


Glorious Autumn

No mortal knows what he will earn tomorrow;
No mortal knows where he will breathe his last.
Allah alone is wise & all-knowing

The continent of Europe is athrive,
Three man-mass’d armies marching to fates,
Only the keenest marksman may survive
The death-wish of this warfare which awaits;
The Grand Armee,
Stood ready on the wing,
Opposing Muscovy & auld Vienna’s King.

While Russia cross’d the Polish plains
Austria grew foolish brave,
Facing the French in Autumn rains,
Cavalry, wave-after-wave,
Made crippl’d heaps of screams & pains –
The Wurttemburger grave –
Where now the pale, drawn face of gen’ral Mack
Grows moody as more marshalrie attack.

Within the hour this Austrian
Garbles forth, “Surrender!”
Napoleon, the day well won,
Says, “You have saved honour
& may go free, there give my thanks unto thine emporer.”

October 19th


Sailors, drag your anchors out
from their harbour hideaways
& coil the dripping hawsers in
Antipater of Sidon

A fleet departs Portsmouth in stately flow,
Nelson’s sword-heart-beat pulsing for the game,
Transglobal oars his name all slowly know,
Setting so many foreign flags aflame;
Up in the van
Signals the Victory,
“England expects each man enact his own duty!”

Athwart all current theory
Devlish line has cross’d the ‘T,’
Divvying up the enemy,
Private conflicts in the sea
Conducted with cool energy,
One-sided killing spree,
“Nous surrendons!” as French, half drench’d in gore,
Kneel ‘neath the Spartan Sea-Lion of war!

“Kiss me Hardy!” Lord Nelson croaks,
“Kiss me my dear old friend!”
Amid the smokeswept, creaking oaks
England’s angels descend,
For death & heroism are companions to the end.

Atlantic Ocean
21st October

Glorious Winter

A deadly silence step by step increas’d,
Until it seem’d a horrid presence there,
And not a man but felt the terror in his hair.
John Keats

How many miles had Stefan Stiltski march’d,
Step-after-step, harsh-blister’d, ankle-sore,
Flea-bitten, sunbaked, freezing, flogg’d & parch’d,
Then rises random slaughters of real war;
Frozen musket,
Caked head to toe in snow,
Fixing his bayonet, his unit next to go.

He left the crucial Pratzen heights
With lads long time befriended,
The French look weaker on their right,
By them this was intended
Behind him marching Gallic might
Claims heights undefended,
Whose cannon murder thunderous wide spread,
The Russians soon outnumber’d by their dead.

As rounds are pounding thro’ the ranks,
Gouging a trench of pain,
France crowding flanks, old comrade yanks
Stefan’s arm in disdain,
“The battle’s lost, come brother, let us fly back to Ukraine!”

December 12th


What will we do
when there is nobody left
to kill?
June Jordan

Formidab’ly defying sixty years
Blucher leads smoke-brave soldiers from the front,
All thro’ the night his enemy appears,
But thinking Bonaparte a little runt
He blows his horn,
Orders a proud advance,
Of sons proud Fred’rick born, into the flanks of France.

Feems history this not his day,
His foeman’s star still rising,
The Prussians push’d out from the fray
With deadly art devising,
Losing the battle in dismay,
Death unappetising,
Disorderly the panic-stricken grows,
Behind, two dozen thousand for the crows.

Come aftermath Blucher aghast
As captains of his state
Sycophantastic’ly outcast,
Meekly capitulate –
Defeated, aye, but deep down felt he different for fate.



We dream of being a ship,
Anyone didn’t think what wood we’d raise,
We intended to build it with vine branch
Dritëro Agolli

Like some black hole in Europe’s heart aswirl
The love of conquest draws the best men in,
Two years of battle prattle with a whirl,
Tsar Alexander knows he cannot win;
Facing defeat
Since Eylau & Freisland,
The patriarchs shall meet across the Niemen strand.

Upon a little river raft
All Europa torn in two,
Where godlike signatories craft
Warsaw’s freedom, won anew!
They after dined & drank & laugh’d
Til evening’s twilight drew,
& parted as the firmest of firm friends –
Of course this is not how their story ends;

But that is for another time
For now let us suffice
With this sublimely fashion’d crime,
Daring to roll the dice –
The World was stolen by one man, a tiger amid mice!


Peninsular Activity

Woe to the one who decries music & war-march,
to mighty heroism inciting hosts;
great pipe that inspires all courage
Gilleasbaig na Ceapaich

By following his own soul’s lonely lead
An empire won yon Corsica’s young dreams,
But restless minds beset by bursts of greed
Oft senselessly commit to tempting schemes;
Like seagulls aquiline,
Their gullets ravenous as gadarean swine.

For not contented with Paris
& a kudos gaining Rome,
He grew determined to harass
British queenship oer the foam,
Impresses on Europe’s powers,
“Send English produce home!”
But Portugal would always court London,
& so Napoleon laid low Lisbon.

Then on the ramble back thro Spain
Its weakling king deposed,
That Bourbon reign, that ancyent vein
Forever shall be closed,
& on the throne his brother placed, the moment unopposed.


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