Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Great March to Babylon

(or, ‘The French Crusade)
(1249-1250 A.D.)

Part One


The Battles Lay Await

Let us go back—
That is one of the story teller’s
And put ourselves in the
Year 1249-1250 A.D.
The period known as
The French Crusade.
This is really a French
Odyssey to say the least!
When great battles took place
And death and sorrow lay wait.


Part Two

The Noble Knights
(Beginning of the Battles)

The Ships

“To Babylon, to Babylon!”
The French Knights shouted.
(While disembarking,
Some 1800-ships)
Vessels great and small;
On Saint Nicholas’s day—
And thus,
Started the Great March!


The King’s Towers

King St. Louis of France
Had two great, chas-chateils
(The king’s belfries—towers)
Built—each three stories high
Towers of wood for the
King’s cross-bows
And archers to shoot and
Kill the enemy from.

Greek Fire

Unfortunately, the Sultan’s
Army, quickly destroyed
Each one, with Greek fire
(From warlike machines called
La perriere, which flung
The awesome fire—
Likened to stars in the night sky
Onto and over everything!)


The Templars

Even the Templars
Bold as they were,
Who formed a rear-guard
Whose names carried great weight!
Could not restrain such a
Great undertaking
(The great armament
Of the Saracens):
Thereafter, doom and disaster...
Followed the Knights of France!


The Great Armament

For days they fought
The Turks and Saracens
The French Monarch,
Anguished, with his:
Dukes and earls, lords,
Barons and knights.

Many had fallen and were
Falling to their deaths,
Many: brothers, cousins,
Kin: cloven-breasted.

As their wives back in France,
Whispered and wept—
Waiting for new husbands!

And in the King’s tent
There was ailing and woe
By the dukes,
earls and barons!
(The great and noble—
For their realms in France,
Which they may never see again.)


Part Three

The March to Babylon

War was Kindled

War and battles were rekindled
On the march to Babylon…

Shoulder to shoulder
Hand to sword
Swords and battle-axes
Hand in hand
Men on horses, the Calvary),
Turks and Saracens,
And Knights of France,
Warring…all militaristic
Both sides praying to God
For glory and might
To win the battles
That day and night!
Thinking they are right!
Not accepting wisdom,
No one kills in the name of God
Who is right?

And so the doors to death
Were wide open…


Disease and Death

One could hear
Next to his ears
On either side
The clang and clash of swords
Harden by hot anvils!

One to the other,
Hacked off:
Hands, legs, noses,
Hurled men and beasts
(Like bears and boars—in a hunt)
To their deaths;
Now like still stones
Laying on the ground,
Soon to be thrown into the rivers
And streams,
Staining them with corpses,
Reeking a stink
That caused disease and death
That once touched
No man could escape!


Part Four

The Doomed Knights

The Dauntless and the Dread

The Lords,
Gallant Knights
With battle-axe and swords
With lances, pikes,
All men on horseback—
Many too many,
Sank in the muddy river
To their deaths…

The King badly wounded
He hastened to recover
His strength,
To battle on
A pitiful sight and state for
A king…

(As often he did,
He made a cross in the sand
Each time he left his tent,
To honor Jesus Christ:
Perhaps, hoping to live
Though the day and night.)


The Esquire and the King

The esquire watching
The motion of the battle,
High on top his horse,
Was struck with a lance
Such a blow, ripped
Open his shoulder
Drove the lance into his neck
To where
He couldn’t draw his sword.
His arms fell around
The horse’s neck,
Then he fell out of his saddle
Onto the ground—to
His death!

As the king’s knights
Transverse the Turkish Army
Of over ten-thousand…

With the king surrounded,
Yet he made his escape!


Part Five

The Gallant Horses

Grappled with Agony

In the mist of the latter battles
The horses battle-fatigued,
Swayed with ripped hides,
Split asunder
Leaped over the dead
The rotting corpses
Over bodies as they foamed
And bled themselves from the mouth
Teeth garnishing
Spurs sunk deep into their flesh
As harnesses were used as whips:
Arrows and swords thumped
Against them,
Each grappled with agony
To go forward, to their deaths…!

And the heat of the desert
Sunk in, there was no escape!


Greek Fire

The Black Smoke
From he burning Naphtha—
The incoming Greek fire
One by one—as the knights
Gave up hope,
The sun unmerciful,
Hot and low,
No higher than a tree
Dropped the horses
To their knees!
Bleakly staring down on life…


Part Six

The War’s End

The Sword and Long Spear

And at the battles
Very end—the
Noble Kings of France
With their swords and
Long spears:
Wither their Infantry
Calvary, archers—
Knights, barons
Lords and all…
Could not smother
The great battles
For Victory…

(Bring to its concluding end
The war, yet with honor and dignity,
They expired nonetheless;

It was the might
Of the Great Dragon
The flying Greek fire that did!

And so it was,
The king and the noble but
Doomed kings of France
Were brought to their knees,
With extending arms and eyes
To the heavens
And cried for mercy:
And God heard them.



But let it be said:
No man goes to war,
And kills
In God’s name,
That is blaspheming!


No: 3256
(Written 12-8-2001)