Category Archives: Act 1

Canto 2: The Argument


So arose the practice of celebration in exalted verse the battles & other notable deeds of men together with those of the gods.
Boccaccio


Invocation

Something has broken in the mouths
of the young men on earth
Our thoughts fails us, we are made poor
Yap

There is a glade in an ancyent forest
Where glittering pools of molten azure
Assail ripe sense… insliding, moonbeam-bless’d,
Soul bathes in blissful dreamtimes gleaming pure;
Attended by
My nine naked maidens,
Vulvaean lullaby lilting thro’ love gardens.

She harps a song, she summons stars,
She waltzes round the waters,
She treats these sainted battlescars,
She paints a floating lotus,
She strums her summergold guitars,
Loxianic daughters!
How lovely & how livid floods thy light,
What verses & what wonders must I write?

They ring & weave thro’ tryptych tones,
Sing rich enchanted chime,
Soft music hones their mystic moans,
& so… my all must rhyme…
With hopes of flashing heroes up Parnassus slopes we’ll climb!


Dedication

There can be no virtuous man
Who stops writing poetry
And stops telling the truth

Gyula Illyés

Five hundred years ago, most gracious prince,
Oer thirty thousand ancestors were yours,
Victoria, of all them, must convince
Ye are most worthy of we troubadours;
Thy fruitful days
Adds to our garden joy,
When piles of pyre-steep’d praise heap’d on Di’s happy boy.

Remembering thine own fair birth
When I was only seven,
Your majesty has grown on Earth
Amang the Sons of Heaven,
New to the world ye’ve shewn true worth
Aye, & that’s a given –
Maturity hast bless’d thy diadem,
At heart thou art of us & less of them.

My prince, with praise, I offer thee
This book of rumbling words,
Mnemone to Melody,
Midst lines of waltzing thirds,
Life shimmers ever phosphorous as if t’were sufi birds.


To My Readers

he had worn out his teeth
on the locks of ancient gates.
On the most out-of-the way paths
Ahmad Shamlu

I know these words rest heavy in the hands,
When reading them should creep a little while,
But think of me alone in distant lands,
With heavy load, abroad an extra mile;
Thro’ thorn, up steep,
In search of awesome views,
Where I would sit in deep communion with the Muse.

Gadswounds! My global chronicle
Will preserve the violent show
Of our planet’s lust for battle,
Men panting for Megiddo;
Friends! Be ready for to Google
All words ye do not know,
When mining into human history,
This is a kind of University!

Prepare a bath, pour out your wines,
Light up a candle’s flame,
Encase your minds, embrace these lines,
Enlightenment our aim,
War’s business is but terrible – not glory, nor a game.


Impulses

Unleash a poem slow enough,
Fie with vigilance & care
& you’ll discover lots of stuff
Don Paterson

I sing of Mars, whose blood-besplatter’d reign
Lived long among the secret brotherhoods,
& if these verses vast mine aim deem plain:
To elevate auld lives before the Floods;
When to the stars,
Or in our upmost caves,
This exile song of Mars an epic epoch saves.

As the vestige Villanovan
Found in Verruchian tombs,
As golden-thron’d Glasgerion
Immortalis’d ladies looms,
Ready, my lithe young mind…. Open!
When poetry resumes,
I’ll pay the World its histrionic dues,
Quite polyamorous to every Muse.

Non sono nazifaschisti,
Fair freedoms forged in blood,
The mystery of history
Spreads thro’ me like a wood,
In which I’ll twist unfettered feet as only Clio could.


Valedictions

I should invent my own speech
and leave others empty and afraid
that they did not know it, could not ask
Ricardo Pau-Llosa

I am no pickpurse of another’s wit,
Yet understand tradition is a tool,
When mostly I’m the Muses’ conduit
& sing to them, prostrately, as a fool,
Je suis rien,
Per je ne suis pas dieu,
Vous etes tout mon bien, le lustre de mon cieux!”

As when old Thales’ Iliad
By princely rhapsodes utter’d,
The ghosts behind these lines glow glad
Whenever they’ll be mutter’d,
As if some new Upanishad
Down the Deccan flutter’d,
Containing all the epos of an age,
Far from the sterile tombstone of the page.

As when elders Albanian
Sang legends kith & kin,
Or Suqatran, hoary herdsman
Harps word-hordes held within…
Verse-vestibules of history maintain Cruachan’s Djinn!


Arcadia

A beggar at the crack of dawn comes with
an empty cup, just as a line of monks
serenely with their bowls set out for alms
Saksiri Meesomsueb

Always preparing, always reparing,
The new ensemble of a Danaan song;
No single impulse, but many sharing,
A swirl of verse, a whirl of words among
Eternal heights
Of endless mountenance:
Criss-crossing cloudless nights wild woodland swans advance!

With Saint John & the Patmos vine,
The Bard of the Scyldingas,
Dante’s Comedia Divine,
Tasso’s inspired Crusaders,
With Spenser’s store of faerie wine
& Milton’s masterclass,
I made my bed – from patchwork eiderdown,
I pluck’d my quills & ink’d them up in town!

From erudition constancy
To genius applies;
Consistency, coherency,
Watch phaerie wonders rise
From paranormal mutterings… them given golden guise.


Astrophel

into a world
waiting like
a quiet lover
Max Reif

I stretch to grasp the gross Orphean lyre,
These fingers on the fringe with fuga fraught,
When en-plein-air whisp’ring perfumes transpire,
Hyblean murmors of prophetic thought;
Beside Mankind
I find my social niche,
Reflective & refined; the poesy of pastiche.

Along the road I drank my wine,
While others gave it gladly,
Good souls were they, old friends of mine,
Such thanks to all who’ve had me,
Some tickl’d by this soul-sunshine,
Others flummox’d madly,
For poets & their strangely ancyent ways
Are meant to men affix… affront… amaze.

As from the Wealth of Nations rise
A pleasure-loving soul,
Invested ties friendship supplies
Up puff me proud & tall,
To conjure something rich & queer to steer us, each & all.


An American Epic

Unity begins with acceptance,
builds on hope,
is nourished by caring
Andrew King

Ye children of America, awake!
What world terrific lies beyond thy shores,
That ne’er your Founding Fathers could forsake,
Nor Modern Masters; as the Old World wars,
From Dante’s lines
Unto Fall River’s weaves,
Our syllabus entwines across sibyllic leaves.

As every atom you & I,
My language thee’ll be sharing,
Sometimes Mark Doty’s lullaby,
Sometimes John Weiner’s daring,
Behold our clan-like landscape’s tie,
Consubstantial pairing,
Whom mighty oak-bold tyrants fought & fell’d
A Lion & an Eagle’s Gryphon-meld.

Yes… I guess we can forgive her,
Thy blessed Libertie,
She’ll endeavor to deliver
This world from Tyrannie,
As we, yon waves inveterate, conflate thy destiny.


Testamundi Poeticus

And if there’s something that remains
Through sounds of horn and lyre,
It too will disappear into the maw of time
Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin

I am a man, many have gone before
& will come yet; to thee I trust this song,
Pray let her fly to every foreign shore,
Shewing the World how once the World went wrong;
Such manic times
Have ended, only just,
Whose freshness fills these rhymes far from the bookish dust.

I would the World should hear this song
& sing her down the ages,
So when the epic, proud & long,
Renaissance ever stages,
Let poets ply their trade among
Polytechnic pages,
Finding a thing or two that they could use
In future conversations with the Muse.

Namore shall Homers chaunt War’s praise
Or Owens curse it’s game;
Some psychic craze, unbridl’d days,
Crude torture, quelling shame,
This is my long-wrought testament to what Mankind became.


Canto 3: Genesis

A perfect things participating any nature, makes a likeness to itself, not by absolutley producing that nature, but by applying it to something else

The Summa Theologica of Saint Thomas


The Birth of Life

Overhead the seasons rock
They are paper bells
Calling to nothing living
W. S. Merwin

Before we taste the worst of wasted lives
Whom others breath deny by martial deed,
Before the flailing alien arrives
On Earth alight that bruis’d, enthirsted steed,
Before an age
Is vitrified in gore,
Let us devise the stage & lay its playful floor.

From stardust is a planet made
Then leave the rest to science,
Eftsoons we’ll hear the rise & fade
Of songbirds in alliance,
A never-ceasing serenade
Most happy circumstance
Of swallows following Dawn’s constant roll
Aslant a planet spinning pole-to-pole.

Curving sleekly like a discuss,
Lights flashing strobe-on-strobe,
The collossus that is COSMOS
Coughs up a tiny probe,
Sizing the climate, analyzing carbon & microbe.

Earth


Benvenuto

‘Tis hard to tell whether thy reverend shade
Has more good Votaries or Poets made,
From thy dark Caves were Inspirations given
John Norris of Bemerton

On Earth hath nature pour’d her bounties forth
With such a full & unwithdrawing hand,
Her colours blushing from the snow-blanch’d North
Thro’ flower-fields to drifting Afric sand;
O perfect sphere
Of ecosystems fair,
Oer which, in flight, appear strange light-storms hung on air.

With wrenchly might hot starships land
(As Cook of the Endeavour
Once stood upon Australic sand
& culture changed forever),
Here, two-by-two, with talon’d hand,
Gimbling altogether
Terrific lizards press on pastures new,
Marshall’d by monkey slaves & suited crew.

As Apeman whips broad cattle backs
The Higher Minds watch on,
Chewing on snacks of protein packs
Until the beasts were gone,
Plodding thro’ cudding undergrowth, good meat on every one.

Africa


Carnivores

I care not, Fortune, what you me deny
You cannot rob me of free Nature’s grace,
You cannot shut the windows of the sky
James Thomson

The perfect state of Nature is ‘to war,’
Why else be frightful of night’s spiteful sounds
To feed on or be fed upon the law,
To e’er defend thy vital hunting grounds ;
Five dinosaurs
Compete for rotting meat,
The solo one arose, some Minotaur of Crete.

As vicious as those snarling seas
Off Cape Horn in the Autumn,
A slash… a bite… back-butt unfrees
Her neck as hard she fought ‘em,
Hard battle breaks the viney trees
Til’ sadly, as she caught ‘em,
Her final wounds unspill’d her life force free,
& swoon’d she down, down to her misery.

As silence falls, as battle ends,
Full phyrric are the frays,
A mother tends the wounded, mends
Each gash with spittl’d glaze,
To feast upon the spoils of war like werewolves in a craze.

America


Social Division

The Sun of Justice may withdraw his beams
Awhile from earthly ken, & sit conceal’d
In dark recess pavilioned round with clouds
George Bally

As particles drift slowly round the core,
Then start to rave far from its density,
Time, too, speeds up its progress more & more,
While flitting from the Big Bang’s gravity;
Where near the place
Vast Universe began,
Some cosmic, Klingon race wings fleuron caravan.

Beyond the speed of light they drew
Their mercantile intentions,
Cross dozen milliards they flew
Ships leaping through dimensions,
Until a sphere of green & blue
Promises fat pensions;
How many lizards caught up in the cull.
Chopp’d into squares & pack’d in icy hull.

Among the furball monkey-slaves
A leader rais’d his pride,
By roaring waves he saw the caves
Where they could easy hide,
& made a plan, that Adam-man, whom tyranny defied.

Europa


Cataclysm

His chilling cold doth heate require,
Come Seraphins in liew of fire;
This little Arke no cover has
Robert Southwell

From deep space depths ejected destiny,
Full seven miles across its rocky span,
One hundred terratons of TNT,
Randomly lands upon the Yucatan;
As DOOMSDAY slamm’d
& shudder’d underground,
The dinosaurs, all damn’d, grew flimsy at the sound!

Materielle ascends the skies,
An incandescent army,
Dust super-heated chokes the eyes
Flesh broiling to salami,
Collossal shockwaves terrorize
As Mega Tsu-na-mi,
Two thousand metres high, lay low the coasts
& leave a sludgy wilderness of ghosts.

Thro’ lightning flash, hail-stones of coal,
Destruction decollates,
Those mires that maul, those fires that fall,
All life-flesh devastates,
While dregs of all existence call hopelessly to their mates.

Mexico
65,000,000 BC


Liberty

Even such is time, that takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
And pays us but with age & dust
Sir Walter Raleigh

They came to investigate the carnage
Churn’d by those vast, ruthless, triassic seas,
Neath shaking heads they burnt the starry bridge
To this scourg’d world, unfertile to the bees;
But not before
A spartacus of slaves,
Into the jungles tore to disenthrall in caves.

They wait until their Masters gone,
At last lights disappearing,
They form’d a tribe of twenty-one
In kinship quite endearing,
Despite the sun of safeness shone,
Still them all stood fearing
Those dazzling Lords of Flight, whose lightning rods
Had scarr’d their backs, those beings men call Gods.

As generations pass’d them by
Those Gods did not return,
Into the sky, with teary eye,
For homespheres elders yearn,
A memory grown ancient of the forest & the fern.

Asia
30,000,000 BC


Evolution

In patience, then, possess thy soul,
Stand still! – for while the thunders roll,
Thy saviour sees thee through the gloom
William Allen

Beyond the formal motions of romance
There yearns a primal instinct men call lust,
We see it in a brooding woman’s glance –
To she we leave our favour’d fate in trust;
As monkeymen
Grow ever populous,
Some forced out of that den, the Monkeys’ ancestors.

As Aeons pass, thro’ mate-on-mate,
They wriggle in mutation,
As lither limbs regenerate,
They blend with vegetation
Up to the jungles fling their fate –
Sings primatial Nation,
”Urangatangs! Gorillas! Chimpanzees!
While men lord over plains we rule the trees!”

But what of Man? He too evolves;
Yeti… Neanderthal…
Each problem solves, his world revolves
Quite mathematical,
Swelling the brain against the cranials of each fresh skull.

Australia
1,000,000 BC


Mousteria

Truth is the voice of Nature & of Time –
Truth is the startling monitor within us –
Nought is without it, it comes from the stars
William Thomas Bacon

Far from the conflict of that cosmic war,
Ashroud the twin Antennae Galaxies,
Where Usgoth & Dadghabbi blood-pools bore,
A nobler race makes world enquiries;
On beryl wheels
Flames golliwogging rock
Steel-sinew’d, stake-like heels absorb the landing’s shock.

Cometh Queen Oryana’s passion,
She with the natives mated,
Left her womberie to fashion
New life, ’til satiated,
This osculant, meddling mission
Better men created –
She, with six clapping hands laughs her delight,
“These darling furballs bend their backs upright!”

The Starguild builds her landing strips
Across the Nazca plain,
Magenta lips sing, “Each eclipse
We gods shall come again
Back to Teotihuacan, sixty ‘Humans’ to obtain.”

America
100,000 BC


The Cull

On cherubs & on cherubims
Full royally he rode;
And on the wings of all the winds
Thomas Sternhold

From grots & caverns shagg’d with horrid thorn,
Men wander’d over land & over sea,
A clever race of higher species born,
Advanced in Science & Astronomy;
Old Gods return
“These Apelings grown too wise!”
Three days of lazars burn, rays churning up the skies.

Inferno follows thunderflash
Wondrous things all vapourized,
Sodom turn’d dust, Gomorrah ash,
False concupiscence chastis’d,
Atlantis sunken, crunch & splash
Harrupa cauterized,
What little left alive thro’ Mankind warns
Of divine vengeance when the faithless spawn.

Bold memories of old events
Thro’ bardic sagas rage,
Each line laments, each song cements
The passing of an age,
What once was glad & golden naught but sad words on a page.

Earth
20,000 BC

Canto 4: Mythomemes

Surely it is not the poets that are responsible for what happens
But Zeus himself, who deals with each of us toilers on earth as he sees fit
Homer

***

Birth of Faith

Man is his own star: & the soul that can
Render an honest & a perfect man
Commands all light, all influence, all fate
John Fletcher

Man sits & shivers in the golden stream
Of fresh intelligence, O shiny leaf!
His delightful capacity to dream
Shall to the visionaries pin belief;
Speech primitive
Discusses bird & beast,
While offerings votive prelude the fruitful feast.

Enacting ancyent vaudeville
Orchestrates a cooing crew,
Who place the face of every kill
Upon a headless statue,
Dark, bloody meat roasts on the grill,
Around the fire they drew
Drumming & chanting in a magic trance,
As if them Korybantes at the dance.

This was the moment marvellous
To make a man-made mead;
Salubrius, luxurious,
Stuff which religions need,
The liquer call’d ambrosia on which all Godheads feed.

Italy
10,000 BC

***

Mahabharata

What precious things are you making fast
In all these silken lines ?
& where & to whom will it go at last
James Thomson

From lakes of ash destruction rose the Gods;
From power comes respect, & with this love,
The one thing that connects we anthropods
With all the majesty of those above;
From litanies,
To crude cults of the dead,
Scuttling theologies across our planet sped.

Of these beings form’d contingent,
Huddl’d in epicentres,
On Asia’s great sub-continent
Rose the perfect spiritus
Know Brahma! Soul most sentient
Born from navel lotus,
Beside him, as life’s swarming cells divide,
A pantheon strode forth, & multiplied.

Of all the Hindu deities
Tis Kali we must fear;
As Bharatas, vainglorious,
In battle disappear,
Life hears Vyasa’s saga sung in temples sweet & clear.

India
3102 BC

***

Sun God

He surfaces. A screel at first light.
He is alone and at leisure. He is
talking to himself, pecking at the waterfall
Nitoo Das

Like Coonor Colonel, post ‘forty-seven,’
Remaining in the Raj to reap full worth
From former glories, his hard-won heaven,
One born of stars lingers too long on Earth;
By holy Nile
Commingling with Mankind,
Who, fawning & servile, croon, ‘’Sire, do please be kind!’

Round Heliopolis night slows…
Dawning day… an avatar
Daub’d in finery, more fragrant rose
Than Phaeroe… see florid Ra,
Strike solid, adamantine pose,
Some gallivanting star,
Come every day dispelling dismal dark
By rainbow barge, sky-soaring in an arc.

He teaches us papyryses,
How best to harvest wine,
Shu, Osiris, Tefnut, Isis,
Descend from him divine,
For each a pointed pyramid to dream, & dance, & dine.

Aegyptus
2,500 BC

***

Joa-Pater

This is what you get for begging to be
chosen: every god in the universe eyeing
you through the clouds like a hot wound
Vandana Khanna

Knossos sits where European thought
Has sought a font, the old Harruppan mind
Thro’ Hyksos necromancer-secrets taught
In detail of how deities design’d;
Minoan born,
Hariya weds for Crete,
With Keret, in the corn, their seed-time passion sweet.

Siring the peerless Jupiter,
Him no soul could dare neglect,
With a BOOM he brings us terror,
With a kiss he can protect,
One of them who live forever,
As long as this proud sect
Pays heed to all the prayer-needs of faith,
Else fade them to the shades each jaded wraith.

O best of Gods, thy golden scales
Our destinies suspend;
Lord of the gales, thy hard-flung hails
& storm-bolts that ye send
Roar over us, ‘til glorious thy softer swells ascend!

1600 BC
Hellas

***

Chivalry

My thoughts are as a garden plot, that knows
No rain but of thy giving, & no rose
Except thy name. I dedicate it thine
Mu’Tamid

A love of Rhea’s handsome son will spread
Across the waves to where the Argives dwell,
The banded Titans think of him with dread
& fortify their mountains, where they yell;
”This is our land
& for it we shall fight!”
Then stand, weapons in hand, a megaron of might.

As at them jagged boulders thrown
The firmament was shaking,
The sun went dark, the earth did groan,
Fork’d lightning forests raking,
Piebald invader blew his horn,
Mercifuls foresaking,
He bounden them in chains & cast them low
Below the Earth, ten killers on death row.

The conqueror takes up his seat
& there begins to breed,
A task complete, the Twelve compete
For faith on which they feed,
But in all things shall Seuserenre  ever take the lead.

1400 BC
Mount Olympus

***

Pantheon

What am I? a God or Man?
Man is God when great and rich —
God is man when in the ditch
Hume Nisbet

Above the puny jarrings of the world
Olympus of innumerable folds
Reflects the melting moon, whose peaks, snow-pearl’d
With frozen happiness, shed Heaven’s gold;
Urania
Flings stars oer divine heads,
Frolicking together, luxuriant, on beds.

While Vulcan stokes eternal fire
Of constant, cooking casket,
Venus fills deity desire
& thrills them ‘neath her blanket,
The Lord Apollo plucks his lyre
& his Muses thank it,
To play them songs the seasons’ sweetly bring;
Summer, Winter, Autumn, & the Spring.

Farsunk below that mantl’d stone
Old Hades hews his halls;
At first alone until the groan
Of death releases souls,
Them to his kingdom lumbering as leaf quite lifeless falls.

Hades

***

Herakles

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
Robert Frost

We mortals are the Gods’ unwilling toys,
They treat us with a fickleness & play
With softling lives, ‘til waking fate employs
The true direction to a human day;
The best of us
These higher lives defy,
Lives like wild chimeras & diamonds in the sky.

Sailing east with famous Jason
On the quest to fetch the fleece,
He fought the birds Stymphalian
Sharply tasking over Greece,
Wrestling the lion Nemean
At last his trials cease,
Tall stood upon the cusp of further fame,
No beast on Earth this god-man could not tame.

Light lifts him up from pointed pyre,
One by his own hands made,
Before the fire could flicker’d high
Oer lead limbs limply laid,
Zeus knighted him Olympian, imputed to the grade.

Divinnia

***

Forbidden Fruit

Where is her light? her crown? her ornaments?
Her chain of love? her peace? her puritie?
Her fruitfull gardens? her fair continents?
Sir William Mure

With flash of awe best stories are begun;
Upon immortal Mount Olympus dwell
The brightest members of that pantheon
Which binds all mortal motion to its spell;
Our fable falls,
Where Jupiter resides,
Thro’ Heaven’s gleaming halls a golden apple glides.

Upon its deep, dawn-colour’d skin
Was written, “For the finest!”
Three goddesses desir’d the win,
Much smitten by the contest,
Their chatter made a magpie din
To find out who was bless’d,
With Beauty’s art, more than the other two,
Says Jupiter, “I know what you must do!

Seek out a pure & mortal youth
To cure thy bickering,
His choice, I sooth, rare voice of truth,
Shall judge this siren spring,
Alas, I sense these strange events shall violence to us bring!”

Olympus

***

The Judgement of Paris

The stately Juno stalk’d, to reach the Seat,
And hear the Sentence in the last Debate,
And long, severely long resent the Grove
Thomas Parnell

They crambl’d Earth, searching rare quality
Which fortifies a man from lustful thought,
Noble enough to love a true beauty,
Give honest answers to opinions sought;
Just one was found,
A handsome Prince of Troy;
Three goddesses drew round, seductive, sweet & coy….

“Tell, prithee, Paris, which of us,
Fairer than fairest flower?”
Minerva offer’d genius,
While Juno promis’d power,
“If I am chosen,” quiff’s Venus,
“The roseate bower
Of womanhood shall spread across thy mind –
When you may pluck the fairest of your kind!”

“Then thee I choose…” from Venus flew
Helen’s bright araura,
The other two disdainful grew,
Grating with displeasure,
“She waits for you!” sings Venus, “In Lacedaemonia!”

Troy
1274 BC

Canto 5: The Birth of Rome

Mighty men of valour, men train’d for battle, who could handle shield & spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions, & were as swift as gazelles on the mountains. Chronicles 12:8


Helen

And in the visions of romantic youth,
What years of endless bliss are yet to flow!
But, mortal pleasure, what art thou in truth!
Thomas Campbell

Not setting sun, not rosy-finger’d dawn,
Nor ocean’s pearl; not breezy mountain air,
Not spider-spun, nor lazy summer lawn,
Could e’er to this temptressy smile compare;
Her wide-sought hand
Won by the Spartan king,
Many a Grecian band gifts to their wedding bring.

From vinegar festivities
Paris woo’d her to one side,
Venus entwining destinies
As this hot, bedswerving bride
Sings lush, erotic melodies,
Sucking his love inside –
Afterwards, all glamour’d with enchantment,
Thro’ spacious halls their silent footsteps went.

Moonsphere makes webbings in the waves,
Men row a ship to sea –
As future craves the golden graves
Of immortality,
These sweethearts, silken-sheeted, milk the teats of exstasi.

Aegean Sea


Fall of Troy

Of all the streets that blur in to the sunset,
There must be one (which, I am not sure)
That I by now have walked for the last time
Jorge Luis Borges

Hard upon the western fringe of Asia
Arks disembark Agamemnon’s command,
The awe-struck Trojans gaze down in terror,
An enemy encamped upon the sand;
Twyx gate & shore
Shall flow a bloody scene,
Full decade fraught with war fought for that gorgeous queen.

Noble are men of Achaea,
Amidst armies swarming bees,
Like Dardanian Aeneas,
Armipotent Achilles,
The High King, Salaminia,
& striking Ulysees,
Them into flock of falcon-men enfuse –
Now Menaleus dreams a daring ruse

As gods affect the mortal course
& fate is fickle starred,
A wooden horse (with secret force)
Slow wheel’d to a courtyard –
“The war is over,” sing the crowds… the gates, that night, unbarr’d.

Troy


Wanderings of Aeneas

Where even defeat has pride.
And nothing can vanquish this ancient nation,
That knows how to dance with such ardor and will
Gevorg Emin

As swollen rivers rampage pitiless,
Wreak havoc-streams & damage thro’ the fields,
Thro’ palaces, pillars & piazzas
Terrific waves of flashing bronze & shields;
Stone torn from stone,
Burst Ilium in flames,
Blood-lusty killing zone of dust & screams & names.

Day draws a veil across the night,
Vital Aeneas survives,
Keen eyes reflect his guiding light,
Men offer’d him their lives,
Commingling with his muckle might
Their weapons, wisdom, wives;
Sat watching citadels crash on the town
Like mountain ashes farmers’ knives hack down.

Sailors plough thro’ plague & terror,
Beyond the Strophades,
Past Ithica, Sicilia,
On thro’ Phoenecian seas,
Blown to holy Ausonia upon a Latin breeze.

Italy


House of Aeneas

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die
Lewis Carroll

From Trojan blood hath sprung Ascanius,
Whose Alba Longa rises amidst hills,
A city gifted to young Silvius –
Him born amidst the whistling woodland rills;
We druids sing
Of consanguinities,
The catalogues of kings, the sacred monarchies.

Wee Silv grew manly, died, then came
Aeneas & Latinus,
Atys & Alba shar’d their fame
With Capys & Capetus,
Emerald Tiber wins its name
As poor Tiberinus
Drowns while crossing ancyent Albula;
“This flow my father’s shrine!” sings Agrippa,

Who was a wise & wondrous king,
Begetting Romulus,
Him by lightning was slain, his ring
Given Aventinus,
Whose tomb enclos’d by fragrant blooms upon slopes stupendous.

The Aventine Hill


Rape of Rhea

A small face like mine
Can be fully covered
By my two palms
Chong Chi-Yong

Amulius usurps Numitor’s throne,
Murders his nephew cloak’d & clandestine,
Then to prevent avengers being born,
Chains up his niece to serve him vestal wine;
Such treachery!
Full KARMA to restore,
.To that sinful city Zeus sent a paramour…

Mars crept within fair Rhea’s room
Upon soft-feather’d sandals,
In tirpid, shade-seducing gloom,
By silks & censor’d candles;
His vibrant seed invades the womb
As when warring Vandals
Would ravage Italy – him so divine,
She tasted nirvana, arching back her spine.

Abandoning the ravishing
Mars left a tragic tayle,
Days fluttering from Fall to Spring
Towards her pregnant grail,
When she shall be Philomele & then the Nightingale.

Alba Longa


Romulus & Remus

Those of the poets who were passing
would be found about your greensward;
far & wide have travellers spread your fame
Eachann Bacach

Twin babies born, raging Amulius,
Murders the mother, orders their demise,
Them left to die by Tiber, quite helpless –
Lone she-wolf hears their effervescent cries,
& licks their heads
‘Til pure-soul shepherd comes,
To take them to soft beds, where, sucking on wee thumbs,

Faustalus rais’d them wisely couth,
Behidden from destiny
Time drew them on to manly youth,
Fate drag back to the city,
Old Numitor could see the truth,
Hugging them happily;
“Grandfather… sire… we shall resume thy reign,”
Eftsoons their wicked uncle ran right thro’!

KARMA descending tends the crime,
Dress’d in a saffron gown,
Fate’s paradigm, from scarlet slime
Twins lift a silver crown,
& set it on its rightful brow before the shell-shock’d town.

Alba Longa


Death of Remus

We are sons of the same mother
The same origin and kind
Like two joined pines
Vasile Alecsandri

Twin brothers burning with the purple urge
To build a prosp’rous city of their own,
Certain Quirini join this questful surge
With cattle trains & tools to hack the stone;
They reach the hills
Old Faustulus called home,
To name it causes ills, a Remo or a Rome?

We’d better let the Gods decide –
Tutelary augury!”
Each settl’d his each own hill-side,
In the wait for Mercury,
Oer Remulus six vultures glide
This seem’d priority,
But not long aft, above the Palatine
Twelve vultures fly, cries Remulus, “A sign!”

Inveighing quickly, thick words shoot,
Bickers flickering flame,
Thro’ fierce dispute none could refute
The other brother’s claim,
Til Romulus draws scimitar of fratricide & fame!

Rome


Rape of the Sabines

The world for her was turned all upside down
in her grief for her gray falcon brother.
She could never overcome her sorrow
Petar II Petrovic Njegos

How fair art thou, virgin Capillia,
Atop an oxen train parting the plain,
Aiming for the festive consualia
Rome has declar’d about great Neptune’s fane;
To laugh & play
With spirited Sabine,
She joins that joyous day, eats hearty, quaffs cool wine.

This falsified extravagance
Sunder’d by the long, conch-blast;
As amaryllids left to chance
& sex-starved brigand outcast,
She tried to flee this grotesque dance –
Her father watched aghast,
Each Roman had a mistress in his eye,
Toxeus took his to a crimpling cry.

Comes Romulus, with bloody knife,
“Your name?” “Capillia!”
“You’ll be his wife to save the life
Of your decent mother,
Who shall be kept at Cares til ye’ve acquiesc’d together.”

Rome


Sabine War

Star-shine and darkness are blended
as we gather with those we hold dear.
And the Light is present among us
Katy Phillips

Men of angry Caenina primed to rise,
Rome’s outskirts fill with standards one fine day;
Romulus narrowing jaguar eyes,
Commands his soldiers grandly to the fray;
Bold champions
Made contact stone-on-stone,
Under breathless paeans the Romans gave a groan.

As winds opposing contest war
Thro’ heaven’s arching reaches,
Men leapt thro’ murder’s gory jaw
With all its morbid features,
Spears dripping blood & sable gore,
Gurgoyles in the breaches –
But what is this adash thro’ shafts of spears?
Tis women! Interstitial! In tears!

Husbands! Fathers! Sons! & Brothers!”
War paused its awful wheel,
“We are mothers, we are lovers!
Aye, love ‘tis that we feel!”
As weapons drop two nations merge, so urgent the appeal.

Rome

Canto 6: Republican Rome

What is a society without a heroic dimension

Jean Baudrillard


SPQR

on the ramparts,
he never said death is to be preferred,
that life is negotiable
Abba Kovner

Fresh kingship wins the throne, the lust returns;
Tullus Hostillius pitches for war
With brother Alba, a strange itch which burns;
Far from the day they left the Trojan shore:-
To ease the blow
Two sets of triplets found,
Two populaces flow about the battleground.

Combat is join’d, a flash of blades,
Soon two Roman brothers dead,
The last skiffing thro’ olive glades
& each Quirini wounded –
From seeping cuts life’s vigour fades
Full into action sped
The Wrath of Rome, as hapless foes each fall
The Gods applaud such unhing’d, lupine gall.

The awestruck Alba Longese
Are forced to share the home
Of city bath’d in victory,
Setting a phrase in stone,
Being, ‘Senatus Populares Quirini & Rome.’

Italy
743 BC


Republica

They told me
that democracy is a luxury for me
since I have never known it
Mawete Makisosila

Starshiny line of effervescent kings
Endanger’d by the ageing Tarquinus,
When vanity unto a country brings
The flagrant gossip of its populace;
Stripp’d of the crown
Lush palaces defiled,
Toss’d gruffly out of town, the royal brood exil’d.

Great revolution was proclaim’d
By wise & noble leaders,
Whose surreptitious laws were fram’d
By eruditious readers,
Whose oratory tongues inflamed,
“Those who shall succeed us,
Pay duty to thy great inheritance:
The sacred human right of remonstrance.”

So form’d is a noble city
When freedom sews the seed
Of history, futurity,
Winds blowing thro’ the reed,
To which all gods & kingdoms born to slowly supersede.

Rome
500 BC


Mercenaries

Mice, though sharp their snouts,
Are not powerful in battles;
I will bring death on the party
Senchán Torpéist

Four brothers ride to Macedonic wars,
Blood-lusty – bones & guts behind them strewn –
To sweethearts pining by the Latin shores
These men were more or less upon the moon;
These man that yearn
A mercenary life
Must pleasant pleasure spurn, preferring wars to wife.

The first fell dead in Phrygia
At the Cilician gates,
The next was impal’d in Persia,
Gory price of conquer’d states,
The third cut down in India
With thousands of his mates,
& as great Alexander makes for home
Only the youngest brother sails for Rome.

Rest-yearning veteran returns,
His father claps his joys –
Alas! He learns these little urns
The ashes of his boys –
“My father, we could win the East if Rome her might employs.”

Ostia
333 BC


March of Rome

If history were written by the victims
it would be different, a time of minutes,
of incessant ants that swarm
Alfonso Gatto

The legacies of Achean tenure
Peppers imprecious Ausonian shores,
Rich entempl’d cities, trade & culture,
Liberties pure & academic laws;
“The time to cry,”
She hears a battledrum,
A silence & a sigh, ‘our time for conquest come.’

As each man should have a river
& each man should love a hill,
So when Life does him deliver
Unto Death, he hopes he will
Call on Nature & forgive her
For beating his heart still;
Greek colonists escape for mother Greece
Leaving in fleets like flocks of flying Geese.

The Diamond Isle doth interest
This rising Roman state,
Captains obsess’d attempt conquest,
Press from Messina’s strait,
To slay all Carthaginians abandon’d to their fate.

Segesta
254 BC


Cannae

Such fleeting dreams were quick to disappear.
No sooner on my eyes had flashed the light
Of every hope than blacker was the night
France Pereson

Unbalanced by the Sicilian loss
& with best ships ensilenc’d on the foam,
Combinated races pace mountain moss
Crossing the Alps, bringing the war to Rome;
Cleverly led,
Hannibal of Carthage
Harvesting Latin dead thro’ horrible carnage.

The Senate moves to meet the threat;
Arms to outnumber the foe,
Who push the centre back, & yet
The foe routs not… sure & slow,
Great legions drag within the net,
Around whose flanks now flow
Death’s deltoid grip, ruthless & unreckon’d –
Eighty men are slain each brutal second.

As the glory of Hannibal
Rais’d thro’ halycon days,
His culpable & terrible
Attackings sack & raze,
But for one wall’s defiant face no citizen betrays.

Rome
210 BC


Conquering Carthage

Dead, they examined him, finding
in his body a greater body
for the soul of the world
Cesar Vallejo

Cursing the grand redoubt of stoic Rome
Hurls Hannibal his spear at gates full huge;
Tail turn’d, plying pursuivant pathways home,
Not stunning war nor cunning subterfuge
Made him prevail,
& in his bitter wake
Young Scipio sets sail, relentless war to make.

Skirting the everlasting sands
Where pass’d the Trojan hero,
In perfect health the legion lands
As ruddy-cheek’d as Dido,
Swift march inland conquest expands
Til Carthage cuts the flow –
Her saviour-gen’ral blocks the Zama plain,
Where hovers goddess KARMA hovers, arrows rain…

This time the black Numidians
With Scipio reside,
Thro ‘Ginians Centurians
Force furious applied,
Rough slaughters running riot mix throat-shouts of routing pride!

Africa
203 BC


Flight of the Imperatrix

And lands are saved and conquests won,
And the race of high and hard truths run,
And chains snapped off and sins undone
FW Faber

Amid Quirini ruins spreads a nest,
What family of eagles, regal born,
Ascend the winds, wheeling towards the west,
Surfing the tender fringes of the dawn,
To separate;
Seeks one Sardinia,
The second meets her fate above Iberia.

As others ply the Appenines,
Soars one oer Sicilia,
Spanning wide seas of dark red wine
To the shores of Africa;
One more winds thro’ the grand Alpine
To southern Gallia –
Behind them all, with dishes for the feast,
Brave mother is returning from the East;

Where, swollen on philosophie
& pregnant with the arts,
The Legions see brutality
Best way to break men’s hearts;
Leave none alive to wave away grave wives in slaver’s carts.

Corinth
146 BC


Pompey the Great

A little rule, a little sway,
A sunbeam in a winter’s day,
Is all the proud & mighty have
John Dyer

Flying into the Oriental glow
Rising yon Karakorum’s spicy trail,
The trudging Legions grudgelessly follow
Their admiral, blown by ambition’s gale;
An eagle beams
Oer Ida, as she turns,
The Trojan War, it seems, to Asia’s shore returns.

Surveys, Pompey, the crumbl’d stones
Where forthsprang his native seed,
Onwards marches to topple thrones,
Shows assurity & speed,
Resistance heap’d in piles of bones,
“Grammercy!” princes plead;
Judea tamed by pilum, fear & fire,
Its sullen people praying for Messiah!

As triumph handed to the bold,
O darling of thy days,
Uncouth & golden, youth & old,
Upon him heap up praise,
Amidst the fuss sways Julius bedazzled with amaze.

Rome
61 BC


Julius Ceasar

I fete you dear
commanding
officer, for your stealth
Ralph Cherbo Geeplay

When men are born with auras rarely seen,
When power seems to latch upon the soul,
When regal purples paint a princely green,
Flagitious paths of glory lead to Gaul;
One whirlwind war –
Veni! Vedi! Vici!
Even Britannia’s shore sword-skiff’d in victory.

Imperilling imperatrix
Celtic chieftainship allies,
Revolting Vercingetorix
Every burgo on the rise,
But Ceasar is a box of tricks
& thro’ the deep devise,
Delivering vermillion checkmate,
How swiftly turns the swelling tide of fate?

War’s onerous cast from the walls,
Dies, innocent, each child,
The fortress falls, the gore-dress’d Gauls
With Rome are reconcil’d,
Their captain kneeling ‘neath the sword on which the Gods hath smiled.

Alesia
52 BC

 

Canto 7: Imperial Rome

O isplendor di Dio, per cu’io vidi
l’alto triunfo del regno verace,
dammi virtu a dir com’ io il vidi

Dante


Power Struggle

No one can tell me,
Nobody knows,
Where the wind comes from
AA Milne

As rivers gently drift along the glen,
Then gather speed & gallop down the falls,
Great Caesar, elevated by his men,
Across the Rubicon met Roman walls;
Seizing control,
One star stands in his way,
The keen, immortal soul of evergreen Pompey;

Who flees to Alexandria,
Tasting pleasures of the East,
Where the long-lash’d Cleopatra
On his passion is releas’d,
Touch disturb’d by panting soldier,
Sir, Caesar has releas’d
His legions all along th’Aegyptian shore!”
“Then Rome must know a bloody civil war!”

Eftsoons the Pharsalian plain
Knee deep in fratricide,
Amid the slain, in gurgling pain,
The Challenger has died,
Now Caesar is an emperor & Cleopatra, bride.

Rome
46 BC


Dynastasia

Tell me, sir.
Have you ever heard
A peacock sing?
Suzy Kassem

A queen of immaculate quality,
A power like no king had ever known,
A son to celebrate his legacy –
No wonder Caesar toppl’d from the throne;
The bloody knives
Of Brutus & his firm
Shall pierce so many lives, make fodder for the worm.

As a tyrant’s power vacuum
Ever fill’d by civil wars,
A soothsayers’ prescient doom
Hath curs’d Mark Anthony’s cause,
Now sultry in her wooing room
Queen Cleopatra’s claws
Unveil to win Octavian with lust –
But choosing not his loins to lion-thrust

He leaves for paths of death-paved arms,
The world was his to grasp,
Behind, becalms her vixen charms,
As suicidic asp
Slithers in histrionic song, acidic was its rasp.

Aegypt
30 BC


Gesu

Hoping indeed the current of life would seize me
& give me its own stronger reasons for breath;
Meaning “Live!” when saying “Live for me!”
Hyam Plutzik

Rays of pure stardust pulse across the Earth,
According to some alien design,
For deity desires a humble birth
When interplanetary spheres align,
The Starchild born,
Warm & mellow manger,
His writ the world to warn of the Devil’s danger.

The virgin mother sent her child
To a cult of strict Essene,
With them the Dead Sea scrolls were filed,
Ancyent prophecies to glean,
With them this little lad was styled
Until he turn’d thirteen,
When Mary’s boy restor’d to Nazereth,
Naught but hell-burning brains & wafts of death.

Like sharp, shark fins the sins of Man
Round the incarnate swirl’d,
As Romans ran their sordid plan,
Thro’ war-polluted world –
Boy tutor’d in messiahdom or heaven’s face unfurl’d?

Judea
2 AD


Frontier

bones in cold spaces
a heap of souls’
robbed glances
Karina Fiorini

Round Ceasar’s son, august Octavian,
Imperium ablaze with burnish’d gold,
But for the passing of the lost legion,
Slaughter’d within the Teutoburger Wald;
Sublunary,
Crunching cross spangling snow,
That fastuous army lit by a ghostly glow.

As the sun revived their terror,
Gleaming coronet of dawn,
They could hear the battle’s clangour
Corpsey crops about them grown,
Mute & eyeless men together
Down shallow death-pits thrown –
Thro press of shield & shrieking arrow maze
Few men of blood see seldom half their days.

At home the Rome Ausonian
Reigns unsubduable,
But Aryan barbarian
Now renders Mars mortal,
Brought ruin on brave legionnaires rival’d rare in battle.

Germania
9 AD


Death of Gesu

Washed in the Saviour’s cleansing blood,
The white-robed saints in glory stand,
Hailing Earth’s lingerers o’er the flood
WJ Brock

Bound by the Jews’ Messianic cravings,
The Nazarene Essene gathers his voice,
By Rome dismiss’d, “Strange religious ravings!”
These teachings giving common man a choice;
“Heaven on Earth!”
Enfearful Sannhedrim
Deny his sacred birth, steer Pilate’s woesome whim.

This ‘imposter’ promptly taken
To the Hill of Calvary,
Where the sins of man awaken,
Crucified upon the tree,
“Father, why am I foresaken?”
Jesus weeps eerily;
First flickers of the Holy Roman guilt,
As spear-point ribward-driven to its hilt.

His followers proclaim a king,
Trumpet his history –
Sin-forgiving & storm-stilling
Miracle ministry,
The perishing ephemeron of Christianity.

36
Jerusalem


Two Emperors

I want to breathe the Lotus flow’r,
Sighing to the stars
With tendrils drinking at the Nile
Gwendolyn Bennett

With thrilling conquest quick’ning converse still,
Each bastion out in the misty west
Slowly eroded by the Roman will,
With only woady Picts spurning conquest;
Tough toads to crack,
Trajan turns vision East,
His empiric attacks on Persia are increas’d.

On entering his death-charg’d hour,
Rome’s regions vast extended,
Hadrian granted godlike power,
The world must be defended –
As grapes of the Euphrates sour,
There the drive east ended,
While southern pushes choke on Sahara
& Gothic shock-troops block half Europa.

Upon a tour of Albion
He saw the ravages
Inflicted on each proud legion
By painted savages,
“Our world ends here!” wall sea-salt steer’d to halt the pillagers.

Lugdovallium
122


Constantius

Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
Delmore Schwartz

As Athens’ sheer Acropolis did rise
To marvel man & rival Heaven’s gates
But slowly weaken’d by the sea-salt skies
In crumbling marble glory dissipates;
The Roman realm
On stressful fault survives,
Brow-batter’d at the helm by blunt assassin knives.

An emperor & a legion
Ravaging a country wide,
Bouy’d by the pagan pantheon,
With his young son by his side,
Death for many a flaming Dun
Restoring Roman pride –
Then, from grim warfare, when he’d won his fill,
He turns for Rome, but burns a fev’rish ill…

…& as Constantius did die,
From Britons, full of praise,
Up climbs a cry, up to the sky
His son the soldiers raise,
On battle-broaden’d shoulders shorn from Caledon’s braw days.

York
306


Triumph of Christ

Let me forsake the snare of Strict Verse
as we found it in the tradition,
& let me enter your new order now
Cathal Mac Muireadhaigh

Driven by fate’s rightful inheritance,
Soft music zinging off his singing soul,
Thro’ silviculture legionnaires advance,
Upon them all a blaze of light did fall;
Some cross of cloud
Trails bianco banner,
Sacred white words endow’d, which read, “BY THIS CONQUER!”

The warlord asks, “what does this mean?”
“The Christians…” men reply,
Epiphany settl’d serene,
Angels pass across the eye,
“We’ll build a cross of golden sheen
To proud above us fly –
Pure emblem of our rising righteousness!”
“A phantom!” cries fearful Maxentius.

The battle won by Constantine
Who built a finer Rome,
Oer Byzantine, by best design
Rose Forum, Hippodrome,
The Troynavant of Asia, the Palladium’s new home.

Constantinople
333


The Sack of Rome

The beggar at St Angelo’s might gaze
With scorn upon our North, oft he surveys
The one, lone, only, everliving Rome
Friedrich von Schiller

Two chieftans leave the palatial table.
Viziers of Visigoth & Vandal,
Agreeing the Empire drifts unstable,
Deluded, thro’ orgiastic scandal;
They fetter’d hands,
“Let’s drain this corpse of blood!”
Then left for native lands, the shar’d fated understood.

First Vandal shakes the verve of Gaul,
Breaks flacid Iberia,
Then sailing seas of silver shoal,
Vanquishes North Africa,
Forcing Rome’s Forum to recall
Forces from Britannia –
In every land men drown in liberty
With growing sense of incredulity.

Portion of that princely bargain
Paid by the Gothic horde,
Some Bedouin roaming sanguine
Bringing Asgard abroad,
Sacking a mighty capital with crimson-hacking sword.

Italia
410

Canto 8: Dux Bellorum

God of our fathers, what is man!
That thou towards him with hand so various…
Temper’st thy providence through his short cause

John Milton


Arthur’s Birth

The Cymry will be lamenting
While their souls will be tried
Before a horde of ravagers
Taliesin

Cupbearer! Come & fill these horns of mead
& toast our eager vessels for the song,
Adorn our thought with helmet, spur & steed
& charge with us along the first furlong;
Romanitas
Thro’ Britain has collaps’d,
The cause calamitous, Barbarian relapse.

With Henghist came the Saxon stock
That is forever England,
The Britons suffer such crude shock
Both Pendragons understand,
This weather-change wears to the rock
The soil of this fair land –
Best fields them yielding year-on-bloody-year,
Yearning for some messiah to appear.

Such wishes Heaven understood
As to Tintagel drew
A force for good, rich Pictish blood
Wee babelet courses thro,’
Of lovers’ born in moonlit tryst, when kisses taste of dew!

Cornwall
478


Arthur the Warrior

Legend has it
That within the chalice
Was an elixir of courage
Kimolisa Mings

Burning with the Caracallan edict,
Lamenting how his motherlands were torn,
Soulsent to show each Saxon, Scot & the Pict
The purpose & the reason he was born;
Our young hot-head
Ascending thro’ the ranks,
Prays nightly by his bed, sending sweet Christus thanks!

King Erbin was his mortal lord,
Master of all the Cornish,
Whose princely son, to wide concord
Did courtly throne embellish,
A noble youth, of horse & sword
& farer over fish,
Who loves to hear a wise moralitee,
Who with bold Arthur made an amity.

Whose genius Geraint respects,
Generalsy overawes,
Whose mind accepts choice Latin texts
Still extant on these shores,
Sensing his Britons shall, one day, return to Roman laws.

Dumnonia
498


Llongborth

a dagger in my hand & him beneath me:
I’d show it could go in deeply,
the blood of his head about his bollocks
Ailean Mor

Across the mane men came expecting gain;
Old Porta & his two haranguing sons
Have landed at the exit of the Glein,
Thro’ which Winchester’s succinct precint runs;
By rivermouth,
Portchester, massive, stands,
Best harbour of the south… the Saxon tiger lands.

Ride on, Geraint, thy charger swift,
Galloping ‘neath thumping thigh,
Ye over swords & swordsmen lift
Like a lion leaping high,
The Saxons silenc’d with short thrift,
Until your time to die,
A tragedy lamented by thy King,
This victory no succour to the sting!

Arthur now Erbin’s ‘special one,’
The Camelots agree,
Without a son the crown to don
An Empire promised he,
“But first, my boy, make pilgrimage to Mary over sea!”

Celliwig
501


Byzantium

The Cross is gleaming in the sky,
The Word, by whom all flesh was made,
Himself made flesh is there displayed
Venantius Fortunatus

Far beyond the seafaring Taphians
Sail’d Arthur to the city Constantine,
A world of most wonderful aliens,
The neutron of the atom Byzantine;
The meeting’s grant,
The palace glorious!
Here sprawl all sycophant for Anastasius.

”Hello thou half-Herulian,
My city bids thee welcome,
We await the restoration,
Imperium Romanum,
Thou art the last free bastion
Against the hated drum
That rattl’d down the very Roman walls
& beat its rhythm into Gallic halls.”

The Emperor did Arthur kiss,
Embrac’d him as a son,
”Remember this, in thy service,
Until armageddon,
Thou art our e’erlasting, incontestable possession!”

Constantinople
504


Pilgrimage

Dear Christ, who reign’st above the flood
Of human tears & human blood,
A weary road these men have trod
F.G. Scott

Now runs the sacred circuit of his life,
At Ephesus the Mother’s twilight grange,
At Acre he ‘estranged’ a Hittite knife
Some future Saxon face to re-arrange;
Jerusalem
Appears in waking dreams,
“Him born in Bethlehem our sinning here redeems…”

He whisper’d as he made his way
To the vale Jehosophat,
Where Christus Judas didst betray
(& the world grew glad of that),
Three days & nights would Arthur pray,
Couch’d on a rushy mat,
Beseeching Father, Son & Holy Ghost
For victories over the heathen host.

On the fourteenth of September,
He on the cross did gaze,
That Helena, sacred mother
Of Constantine, did raise
From all the world’s obscurity, to worship & amaze!

Jerusalem
505


Holding the Saxons

To my true king I offered free from stain
Courage & faith ; vain faith & courage vain.
For him I threw lands, honours, wealth, away
Lord Macaulay

A man he went, Guledig he return’d,
Finds Cerdic & his sons growing most bold,
How many homesteads to their fury burn’d,
How many sights did sorry eyes behold;
“Upon Dubglas!”
Urg’d he, “We’ll hold ’em here!
Not one of them shall pass, or better still draw near!”

As the river was his border
There an inch he never gave,
Fighting battles in good order,
Mettle tests Orestes-brave,
Each battle’s night he pour’d a
Libation for the grave
Of Geraint, still alive inside his blade –
Until onslaughting Saxon forces fade.

King Erbin granted Arthur leave
To seize himself good lands,
“Son, to achieve this feat believe
Men’s fate lies in men’s hands;”
“My Lord,” said Arthur, kneeling, as decorum’s lilt demands.

South Cadbury
506


Bassas

I won’t be long, she said
& left the door ajar.
It was special evening for us
Georgi Gospodinov

All thro’ the hearth-lands of the Cornovii
March’d Arthur, by the River Bassas side,
Beyond the town where Princes go to die
A hill-top fort his smaller force defied;
Caer Ogyfran
By fading giant ruled,
A weary, dying man – friendless & easy-fool’d.

Aggression to attack attach’d,
’Twas a conquest farly-famed,
Tall walls might well be made from thatch
As its towers easy tamed,
Lord Arthur knows no earthly match,
All Powys there he claim’d,
When for the brutal theft to legalize
He took a local princess as a prize.

Stepping into her private room
Where shadows darkling fell,
All thro’ the gloom rose such perfume,
Like blooming asphodel,
When Arthur gazed on Guinevere his heart burst from its shell!

Powys
507


Camelot

Ten different kinds of birds I have identified
By their calls & songs as we sit here
Under a darkening sky of June, drinking our wine
John Heath-Stubbs

Lord Arthur made a tour of new lands won,
Finding a ruin’d Roman city there,
But not so rough, & when the tough work done
His capital grew famous everywhere;
A noble court
To serve a nobler king,
A place for days of sport & nights of lovemaking!

As labia his lips enclose,
Like lillies kiss a river,
Her goblet-naval’d belly rose
Like aspens all a-shiver
On mountain winds; she curls her toes,
Thanks her pleasure giver,
His touch to her was ointment pouring forth
Upon strawberries wilding in the North.

Now comes his love, love caliph-fierce,
Love quick’ning blow-by-blow,
Broad blade thrusts pierce, he raids her ears,
As serendip, in tow,
Draws tantric, velvet magic thro’ heroic libido.

Virocolum
507


Lancelot & Guinevere

Sae, in my heid as birdsang
Faas throu simmer treen
Is the thocht o my luve
Sydney Goodsir Smith

A marriage of remembrance, & the dance!
Him stag & she a panther, as they tore
Across the merrie courtyard, such romance
Has never since been seen, or seen before;
From Delilah
Stroking brave Samson’s head,
To Julius Ceasar in Cleopatra’s bed.

Alas, as Ceasar soon replaced
By his ‘friend’ Mark Anthony,
Queen Guinevere was daily faced
By a young knight in her e’e,
Whose peach-soft lips she long’d to taste,
An Absalon was he,
& in his dreams he, too, spent nights with her,
Broken by morning’s birdsong’s warning burr.

Feigning distance nonchalantly
They knew it in their core,
As wifely she a family
To Arthur’s bloodline bore,
She wish’d that good Sir Lancelot was hers for evermore.

Castle Knucklas
509

Canto 9: King Arthur

Let the man ascribe it to his skill
That through grace hath attain’d the victory

Edmund Spenser


The Battle of Guinnion

Oh, you, warriors,
For the people, be the vanguard.
Without resting day or night
Dài Jìtáo

As druid’s epics never write themselves,
For to avenge the exile of King Caw,
Against King Drustan’s pack of Pictish Elves
& Scots of Domnagairt, shall Arthur war;
His Gorsgodd rides,
Three hundred nobles strong,
Upon those restless tides which elevate this song.

Battle dissolves idyllic glen
Underneath Garanwynyon,
Faith vitalising souls of men
For the Mother of the Son
Likeness’d on Arthur’s shield – the ten
Witches of Albion
Hill-fled for safety, with a banshee shout,
Shedding  Wodenic forces as they rout.

Let’s build a church to Mary here
& praise her for this day –
In strife & fear ghouls disappear
Before the righteous way,
Come soldiers, my brave soldiers, kneel beside & let us pray!”

Stow-on-Wedale
509


Lothian

We are ready to die, if it is necessary,
die so that our country will live!
This our blood in our veins urges us.
Mustafa Sadiq Al-Rafi’i

The golden belt once worn by Cunedda
Wash’d clean of Pictish blood before the ford
Where slaughter had turn’d the waters redder;
Along the Gala Water Arthur rode,
Thro’ Peht-land hills,
His gallant armament,
Beneath the rushing rills, in hush’d procession went.

Seeing a craggy citadel
Claim landscape surrounding,
He gave an all almighty yell,
Its echoes wide resounding,
This was a promise born in hell
But borne on angel wings;
“We are number’d, here, but three hundred horse –
Let us return one day with greater force.”

That night they slept in the old wrack
Where Serverus made camp,
Plans of attack, with martial knack,
He made by oily lamp
Stuffing the scrolls in saddle-sacks, safe from the mist & damp.

Caramago
509


Caledon Wood

Life is all a road of danger,
Man, therein, a passing stranger
Hastening onward to the grave
Alain de L’Isle

Slowly thro’ the Silva Caledonis
The plodding Gorsgodd goes, the capital
Of Southern Pictland nears & the promise
That there, they would prove themselves in battle;
Shrieks stiffen spine,
Bursting woodland races,
Sword-studded battle-line, blue woad-cover’d faces.

From his fortress at Kirkbuddo
Drustan sallies forth to die,
His soldiers all selvaggio,
But however hard they try
They cannot halt the fury-flow
Of Arthur sent from high,
Whose bold decapitations toss a crown
To dryad earth, its subjects looking down.

Drustan dug out from bleeding mound
Of lower brethren dead,
A better ground for him was found
Buried beside his head,
Beneath an ornate tombstone carved to mark a royal bed.

Liddesdale
509


Pict-Slayer

And joy is mine
When the castles strong, besieged, shake,
And walls uprooted totter and crack
Bertran de Born

Come raise a toast for kings of Northern wars,
Whose bloody corpses rain-ice washes clean,
Where Hueil, perdifious son of Caw’s,
Holds old Alt Clud, tough key to his demense;
“A gorsgodd comes!”
“Then here its ride shall end –
Come sound the battledrums, come let the lines extend.”

Our destines are as the sun
Which rises at the dawning,
Unstoppable, once we’ve begun
Our progress through life’s morning:
When only half the day is done,
Sudden, without warning,
We find our brightest face begin to fade
The death-mask of a midnight’s masquerade.

Not yet, tho’ Arthur, noble knight,
Another victory,
Picts press in fright from this great might,
For safer places flee,
With Hueil’s head thrust on a spike for every king to see.

Dumbarton
510


Return to Camelot

Forever shall I feel thy velvet hair
Dark & majestic on my hot face stream
& two lives flowing on as in a dream
Salvator Gauci

With old fashion’d lyrical loveliness,
Arthur embrac’d his queen on his return,
Tearing apart her flimsy floral dress,
He took her with the vernal heart of Herne;
That night she crept
To warm Sir Lancelot,
& as her husband slept undid their bridal knot.

A message with the morning sun,
“The ranks of the Irish close
On the City of the Legion,”
Arthur notic’d as he rose
He was alone, but wars are won,
When focus’d, “We oppose
This threat encroaching slowly from the West –
Fetch me my sword, my steed, my steely vest!”

The Gorsgodd was assembl’d sharp
As sheepish Guinevere
Grabs nearest harp, her man did carp,
O where were you, my dear?”
“My love I’ve writ a song for thee, beneath the bracken bier.”

Virucolum
511


The City of the Legion

Halo-winged like a rood,
Christ’s heart in its heart set,
Streaming with blood
Seosamh mac Cathmhaoil

Brychan of Brecon bares his Irish chest,
Joining his brothers moving to the south,
Those showy swordsmen of the outer west
Heading for Severn waters & its mouth;
The wall is reach’d
Of sinew, steel & shield,
A wall that must be breach’d, Brythonic battlefield.

Tho’ Arthur’s forces were a tenth
Of all that the Gaels would raise,
He burst on them with skilful strength
Like bezerker’s in a craze,
The Irish line a log of length
Placed on a campfire blaze
Whose centre snaps when faced with so much heat –
With that shouts rise of desperate defeat.

Those wild, half-naked Gaelsmen fled,
King Arthur stops pursuit,
Buries his dead, broke bread & said
“We wait,” being astute,
“For help from far Byzantium, the balance too acute.”

Caerleon
511


Tribuit

In gusting wind
short-stemmed plants shudder and tremble
yet no one pays attention
Kim Sa-In

Thro’ common enemy & common aim,
A soldier sent by Anastasius,
Admiral Theodoric was his name,
To bolster this holy war of Arthur’s;
Flinging dogs home,
Sons of pagan bitches,
Then triumph back to Rome, clutching hard-won riches.

Lord Arthur wash’d his hands & feet
At the altar of Llandaff,
Then march’d his men beside the sweet
Rushwaters of plumelike Taff,
To where three rushing rivers meet
There plung’d in soil his staff,
Defiant as onrush’d the enemy,
The still-point of a turning world stood he.

Thro’ hack & slice, thro’ steam & spurt,
He thrust a bloody track,
Mind full alert, immune to hurt,
He push’d the Irish back,
Back to their boats, dismember’d goats, divided, brooding, black.

Cardiff Bay
512


Love & Lust

This war!
I am tired
of a husband who never sleeps
Chenjerai Hove

More regions yield to Arthur’s sceptre-sway,
Saint Dyfig crowns him king ‘neath Llandaff spire,
The Cymry all united in a day,
Happy partners in a happy empire;
Thro’ giftery,
Perstoic shows of force,
& gentle foe-amis, his reign shall run long course.

Young Medrawt gambols round the court,
Arthur his foster father,
Scribes sacred scriptures daily taught
But this young scamp would rather
Practice at sword-play, well he fought
Other boys much older
& slaying one he pleaded innocent,
“Twas accident!” Medrawt knew different.

He wander’d into mountain hush,
Out collecting spiders,
The gasp… groan… gush…. of lovers rush
Spying naked riders,
The loins of Lancelot enqueen’d, squeezing apple ciders.

Powys
514


The Death of Lancelot

Oh what pain it is to part !
Can I leave thee, can I leave thee ?
O what pain it is to part
John Gay

Things said on the road are heard in the grass,
King Arthur broods upon his rough disgrace,
Such scandal here shall never come to pass
& of this deep betrayal leave no trace…
But first I must…
Must I? Yes, I must see
Her breasts of devil lust, her nest of treachery.”

The next time Guinevere steps took
On love’s illicit meeting,
Follow’d was she out to that nook
By yew trees & ewe bleating,
There gave she Lancelot that look
Ah! twas all too fleeting,
As Arthur watch’d on, face as grey as ash,
The lovers were arrested in a flash.

In agonies his best knight died,
Whose blood did gloop & gush,
Come back to bed, naught shall be said,
Died, he, in an ambush,
& shall be buried hon’rably…” Her hopes! Her heart! Her crush!

Powys
514

Canto 10: Camlann

Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire – conscience
George Washington


The Call of Caledon

And I remembered drowsily,
How ‘mid the hills last night I’d lain
Beside a singing moorland burn
Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

Pray seasons pass in peace, when bravest knights
Take peradventures seeking Holy Grails,
’Til all cut short, like Magpies in the nest,
The Picts are coming back like ghouls on gales;
‘Dumbarton’s fall
Must change with no delay,’
Says Arthur, “Once, for all, this wingless dragon slay.”

So donning his old shirt of mail
He led the loyal Cymri,
Back northwards, at Stow-on-Wedale
To the Mother’s reliqury
All pray’d, through Peht-land vales made trail,
When over Albany;
They saw the Maiden Castle on the crag
Perch’d like an all-pervading mountain stag.

A mile away he pitch’d up camp,
On auld volcano falls,
Into the damp, beneath a lamp
A faded scroll unrolls,
‘We strike the castle at those points where lowest fall the walls.’

Dunsapie Hill
516


The Battle of Mount Agned

and man will plunge knives –
into human flesh –
stabbing and stabbing
Esther Raab

The game is on, the roaring army storms,
Trident-wielding-Neptune thrice divided,
As such a restless force of violence forms
Victory was in one charge decided;
Out spurts the blood
Which Fate ordains to pour,
Such gamble understood by all who gain from war.

Far from the warm heat of the hall
& family to dote on,
Still thick in battle, strong & tall,
King Arthur’s belly caught one…
But, indomitable in soul,
Baderean fought on,
Sensing his zenith, moments such as these
As when a poet first Parnassus sees.

“We have no time for prisoners
& less for weans & wives,
Cruel business, inglorious,
Tho’ Lord God gave us lives
These scum Satanic pagans, make sure not a child survives.”

Edina
516


The Round Table

Here on Earth we must live upright.
Exile is agony, pain and blight.
Nobody returns once they are gone
Yunus Emre

Up to that wide & scenic tidal mouth
Which Clyde feeds fairly from the Alban hills,
The Celtic men are marching east & south.
In them their king a mighty strength instils;
That vital dish
Of posipraxis pure
Dismisses all anguish & trepidations cure.

As when the warbling bott fly bug
Penetrates the healthy flock,
They, silent, reach’d that double plug
Of volcanic, pointing rock,
“Those slimy slugs, asleep, asnug,
Are in for quite a shock
Prepare the men to go at Dawn’s first light,
But first I needs must speak with every knight.”

That close-knit crew did form a crowd
Round Arthur, in a ring,
Puff’d up & proud, uncouth, uncow’d
Strengths to the Table bring,
Men like sirs Kai & Bedevere, who serv’d no better king.

Strathclyde
517


The Battle of Mount Badon

The sharp swallows in their swerve
flaring & hesitating
hunting for the final curve
William Stafford

As when one eats one’s breakfast in the park
& pities with bread a little pigeon,
Whose keen-eyed cousins, set off at the spark,
Instantly surround us as a legion;
Kai’s kindred pour
About Sir Bedevere,
Who’d broken down the door with battle-axe & spear.

The sun had not yet took his throne,
With golden paint applying,
Before hot blood & blocks of bone
Sent through the battle flying,
A battle done in early morn,
Hundreds dead & dying,
A thousand prisoners, all in a line
Of Picts, depress’d, the dragon’s limping spine.

King Arthur drew his Hittite blade
& cut a thousand throats,
While Clerics prayed, as Delphi made
Blood sacrifice of goats,
To please the gods, to please HIS god, to hell each shade demotes.

Lammer Law
517


The Rot of Guinevere

Brittle beauty that Nature made so frail,
Whereof the gift is small, & short the season,
Flowering today, tomorrow apt to fail
Henry Howard

As when one sits in the dip of great hills
Then sees an early setting of the sun,
As when descends the shadows & the chills,
Eyes ride along the peaks, whose highest one;
Still struck with gold,
A titan in the sky,
This peak, then, Arthur, bold, his foes to terrify!

His name is feted everywhere,
At each utterance a cheer,
His famous feasts were more a fair,
Frivolous & full of beer,
But… one turns sour, from her own chair
Mordred drags Guinevere,
For she had sleighted him, she’d diss’d his youth,
Forgetting that he knew her sordid truth.

“How dare you wench, think ill of me,
When ye hath stoop’d so low –
Now I shall be thine enemy,”
Pipes Arthur, “So, son, go,
Before love’s angers steal my mind to deal thy mortal blow.”

Celliwig
535


The Rot of Medrawt

I shall die, but
that is all that I shall do for Death.
I hear him leading his horse out of the stall
Edna St. Vincent Millay

As when one’s cap blocks out the cloudless sun,
But ‘neath the peak its reflection shimmers
On mirror’s waves, & eyes, now unopen,
Fill with orange light in rapid glimmers;
When dangers hoard,
Signs seen on every side,
Alas by minds ignored ballooning with ill pride.

King Arthur reign’d nigh twenty years
Within his mighty bubble,
Dishearing Guinevere’s sad tears
For true love under rubble,
So when the grave crisis appears
Arthur sens’d no trouble,
But as to dust all creatures must return,
Old enmities & rivalries shall burn.

Now is the chance, Medrawt, the worm,
Meets land-hungry Angles,
”Force strong & firm must end the term
Of his constant wrangles –
Then with his death see how swift ties of loyalties untangles!”

Bernicia
536


The Battle of Camlann

The bull, conversing with nature.
Moves off into the meadow,
White horns planted
Nikolai Alekseevich Zabolotsky

The best part of two hundred thousand men
Have come to share this dreich & dreary space,
A floating moor above Dunnichen glen,
The hunter & the hunted at the chase;
Weakening eyes
Dividing men three-fold,
“Sire, is that very wise?” “Sir Kai, do as ye’re told.”

Young Merlin sat above the scene
From Rheged he had wandered,
At bardic school, barely nineteen,
On poetry had ponder’d,
Oer murder ghastly & obscene
Somebody had blunder’d,
For Arthur was failing his final test,
This mad, dim, weird, grim battle of the West.

Mordred espies his ‘family,’
His heart-beat scenting blood,
Cross combat he, bearbeitely,
Ghosted beneath his hood,
Then shook a knife thro’ Arthur’s ribs & dropp’d him where he stood.

Dunnichen
537


The Death of Arthur

Then say, as his divine embrace
Destroys the mortal parts of you
I too am of that royal race
A.D. Hope

What good a kingdom when a life force fades?
What use are riches when your end is near?
What help is power when we join the shades?
What use remorse when one can shed no tear?
Death, dark & dread,
Lay cold bones upon him,
So very nearly dead, light winch’d in ever dim.

As gravity dictates our end,
When precipices crumble,
”Sir Bedevere,” he gasp’d, “Old friend,”
Throat horsey, hoar & humble,
”My blade with thee I do intend,
Do not fudge or fumble,
But in that lake o’er there it ye must throw,
Never let it be clutch’d by Saxon foe.

For while it stays unhidden there
Our souls they shall not rule…”
A gulp of air, an angel stare,
Beard spittl’d in red-drool,
King Arthur dies, his famous blade lobb’d in that flaming pool

Inchyra
537


Arthur the Legend

And don’t worry about your lineage
poetic or natural. The Sun shines on
the jungle, you know, on the tundra
Frank O’Hara

The blood-red western dulls the day of charms,
Across this charr’d & melancholy waste
Of sever’d heads cradl’d by lopp’d-off arms,
The dead are heap’d up in a scowling haste;
These cairns of stones
Shall hide the rotting scent
Of flesh dripping from bones… legs broken, sprawl’d & bent.

King Arthur’s corpse a better grave
On the isle of apples found,
Morgan le Fay her brother gave
A fair sleep, tho’ in the mound
Him still the bravest of the brave,
Whose legends long shall sound –
Sarcophagus forgotten by the Celt
As safe, to western mountains, they woulld melt,

Where wide across the mighty vale
Of vast eternity,
Oer neaps & ale they’ll tell a tayle
Of ancyent chivalry
Of how a bastard’s fist bested Henghists’ hegemony!

Britain
540

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