Monday, June 1, 2015

Two Poems

The Black Death

Part One

Some stood staring with bleeding from the noses, other swelling in the groin and armpits—
The size of an egg, an apple…
They called them tumors, — but all knew it was the Black Death; soon thereafter the tumors spread; they changed from black to purple!
Thereafter, spots appeared on the arms and thighs, large and small: death spoke, and it had its own silent language!
And there was no medical advice.
Death was imminent within three to seven days: depending!
No fever or symptoms, it came and was contagious, like a fire catching seagull, it was airborne.
Once captured on the clothes, it became diseased also!
And the animals, they even got infested: pigs, dogs, cats and birds moved those ineffectual rags, to and fro…
As the corpses laid all about, day and night!

It came by way of China they say, on those old wooden ships, piggybacked by diseased rats, whom carried the pathogen, the bacterium flea, called: Yersinia pestis—
So the healthy avoided the diseased, securing their own safety: abandoning their properties, and drank wild and woolly, unfocused and bestial—
They roamed from tavern to tavern, forgetting all laws: human and divine!
As one after the other, ministers and executors of the law disappeared; all were nearly dead only a few alive, but they were paid no mind! They were hidden in their houses.
Thus no duties were perform, just to bury the infected dead, and ride or run.

Part Two

Neighbors did not visit neighbors; many went abroad!
Relatives stopped visiting one another.
Brothers abandoned brothers, and uncles their nephews.
Sisters abandoned brothers, as did wives and husbands abandoned one another!
As did fathers and mothers refused their children.
Therefore, the sick were left to care for the sick.
The servants left, no matter how high the wages were lifted.
The rich and the beautiful, exposed themselves to manservants no dignity no shame, just plague.
People died alone, without a witness or clergy.
The piteous laments deleted, and bitter tears were shunned.
Two-hundred million died, out of a population of four-hundred and fifty million, or thereabouts!
Grave diggers threw bodies into the nearest burial ground available: be it trench or grave, or ditch, perhaps even into the rivers, it was all the same.

One neighbor knew the other neighbor was dead by the reeking smell that drifted from his abode.
In houses throughout Florence, decaying bodies laid exposed for days on days; there were no mourners: 100,000-died in Florence alone, as the disease continued to travel along the Silk Road with Mongol armies and traders and by ship.
It infected cities in India, Mesopotamia, Syria, Armenia as well as Europe, and Egypt.
Bodies were thrown over city walls, thus infecting the farming inhabitants.
Dead men, women and children, were more plentiful than dead rodents, rats, rabbits, goats and hogs.
And one to another thought no more of it.
This ended, they went to their rest!

5-29-2015 ((No: 4784) (Art work by the author/poet))

Notes:  It was common in those days for streets of the city, any city in Europe, to be filled with filth. The Black Death or the Great Plague as it was also called, derives from the Homeric Greek, meaning a dark death, and the filth helped spread the disease. The Black Death was different than the Bubonic Plague, in that it had no symptoms of fever, or headaches, or painful aching joints, or nausea, when it came it came like a storm. The Pneumonic Plague, includes coughing and blood-tinged septum. Again a different kind of plague. As was the Septicemic plague different. The Black Death was active in Europe starting about 1347 to 1353, but it was already in Asia.  And in one way or another the plague would remain active until about 1750 A.D. half of the population in Paris died. About 40% of Egypt’s population died. It was a worldwide plague.  Iraq, Iran, Syria had a death rate of perhaps 33%. Eurasia (Europe and Asia) 200-million died. In 1624-25, 10% of the population of Amsterdam died of the plague. It perhaps killed between 30 to 40% of the world’s population, which was conceivably around 450-million.

Note: The Yesinia pestis is a gram-negative bacillus of the genus Yesrsinia that causes various animal diseases. Pestis meaning: pestilent, meaning poisonous, to cause death. Also referred to as in the old bible, pestilence. The flea being a bloodsucking insect, on the order of having legs adapted for jumping and are parasitic on warm-blooded animals (wingless).


The Black Death Flea

The Black Death Flea has its own history!
From a horse, rat, rag or corpse, without touching the ground, it can leap rapidly, — with all the quick-witted swinging skills of Achilles’ sword!
Yet more deadly than the battle-axe, the crossbow the javelin or the boar spear—
It can find its way around armor.
It can kill a bear, boar, a hare, pheasant, if it is infected, and be carried away to jump onto man.
It can climb trees on the backs of cats, walls on the backs of rats, and will drop down on whomever is below.
It jumps from one tree to another hidden in the fur of a squirrel.
In one way, the deadly Black Death Flea, is a marvel.

Written: 5-309-2015 ((No: 4785) (Art work by the author/poet))