Views of the Battlefield (Parts I - III)

People disappear when they die.
Diane Setterfield



I

Jericho, 1400 BCE


The enemy circles
but you have walled yourself in
barred the gate
in defence of
all that is yours by right
of occupation –
Invaders do not answer
to law but annihilate
in the name of god
and greed –
Still you seek comfort
in memory
even as your mortal foe
builds new barricades with your bones.




For April 13 - 13 is Poetry, with words taken from the excerpt of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

The Friday 55 is hosted by Hedgewitch at Verse Escape.

Jericho is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.  According to Biblical account, Israelites destroyed the Bronze Age wall of the city by walking around it with the Ark of the Covenant for seven days. On the final day, the Israelites under Joshua's command blew trumpets of rams' horns and shouted to make the walls fall down. This was the first battle in their conquest of Canaan. [Joshua 6: 14 – 15]





II

So long you keep the fruit, it will rot.
So hot the struggle for a spot that it is won.
François Villon

Attila, 451 CE


You contemplate defeat
with a pyre of burning saddles –
self-immolation –
but ride instead bareback
into the teeth of tribes
with whip and sword and stench
of flesh both man and beast –
You lead a charging retreat
in a fight to win
what was always lost –
And conquest left to the spirits of the dead
battling on in flame and smoke.




The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains took place on June 20, 451 CE, between a coalition led by the Roman general, Flavius Aetius and the Visigothic king, Theodoric I against Attila the Hun.

Cadavera vero innumera: "Truly countless bodies!"
Roman description (Read More)





III

So doggedly you beg that your wish is granted;
So high climbs the price when you want a thing.
François Villon

Jerusalem, 1099 CE


They have constructed an engine
for the seige
and you find yourself halfway
up a ladder
counting arrows –
as they flame and pierce
you feel nothing but zeal –
gore has slaked your thirst
and your body consumes
its own death –
Already you have forgotten
the day you wept to see Jerusalem.




The Siege of Jerusalem took place from June 7 to July 15, 1099 CE. The climax of the First Crusade, the successful siege saw the Crusaders take Jerusalem from the Fatimid Caliphate and laid the foundations for the Kingdom of Jerusalem. (Read More)

" ...in the Temple and porch of Solomon men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins."
Raymond of Aguilers



For Serendipity and a Poet hosted by Gillena and featuring the poetry of  François Villon, with quotes from The Ballad of Proverbs, two poems in continuation of my theme of 'War Through the Ages' for Day 15 and Day 16 of poetry writing month.

Comments

  1. The closing line is absolutely chilling! Powerful 55, Kerry!

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  2. A very graceful 55 adorned with deft and unobtrusively lavish poetic devices, which makes the subject matter all the more stark and affecting--yes, I can see this becoming under your pen a very fascinating and powerful series, Kerry. So glad you can find inspiration in the 55 form, (as I always do even when I'm otherwise bone-dry.) I especially feel the drum against the futility of those walls in the lines about invaders, and what they do. Thanks so much for participating.

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    1. Thanks, Joy. I find it easier to focus on the whole, one bit at a time these days.

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  3. Horror, outrage, despair, fury... are some of the words that come to mind while I read this piece. I've never been able to feel very forgiving against anyone who takes because he feels entitled, or who kicks because someone kicked him first (it would make sense to me that if someone kicked you, you'd keep from kicking about since you know just how much it hurts). So many walls made of bones, borders christened with blood... too many.

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    1. Always the same story, and never a happy ending.

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  4. there is a simple evocation of power here, for the story telling - and even as a "distant" perspective from the subject matter, obviously, you impart this feeling, as if we're somehow transported to the place and time, and the voice you've chosen, or however it chooses you, is simple, yes, but it speaks with a wisdom, and depth of cutting understanding - and a resilience - a clearly misunderstood and misconstrued "foolish" move on the part of those who invade, crush, take -
    a gross miscalculation - for the biding of time. You've done a great job with this - this story is engaging and drawing us in. And it transcends time, giving it a universal tone, in relation to ....

    I'm looking forward to what happens next - as it will, by your and its accord.

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    1. Thank you, Pat. I'd like the voice to echo back and forth through time, so it is both immediate and ancient. And simple, given the subject matter. All battlefields look the same in the end, don't they?

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    2. So far, it's working well. And in some ways, this sets up an interesting "dialogue" -in its own way ....

      and yeah, you're right - only the names will change ..... (from a Bon Jovi song - Wanted Dead or Alive) .... but it's apropos

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  5. And, so long later, nothing much has changed. That last line seems to encapsulate all the bleakness and futility.

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    1. That's what I'm going for. Thanks, for reading, Rosemary.

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  6. Kind of "the other side" of the story. I do believe war is inevitable at times - think if we hadn't stopped Hitler - but yes, all war looks the same in the end and mother's, lovers, children's hearts all grieve (and regret).

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    1. Yes, every story has two sides and no matter which side you pick, both will lose. Hitler was able to rise because of the punitive measures put in place by the victors of World War 1 and his reign was followed by the Russian conquest of Eastern Europe... and where are we today?

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    2. Yes, the treaty after WWI did allow Hitler to grasp the people's minds & hearts - very scary.

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  7. A very strong 55. The image seems so familiar to the human condition; seen repeatedly. Enjoyed this.

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    1. Thank you for reading both my poems today, Viv.

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  8. "Conquest left to the spirits of the dead"
    Kerry - This says it so poignantly stated: War is hell. No one wins. Even when one side loses. Even when defence is necessary. And this is a timely reminder, in the face of strike against Syria
    presently.
    Thanks for your Villon quotes and stanzas; in response to Serendipity And A Poet prompt at 'the garden'

    Much🌼love

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    1. You can bet your last dollar that this series is heading to Syria. Thank you, and much love.

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  9. Seriously chills the power of the mind to overcome self-preservation and even revel in such sacrifice - Again, war causes grief on both sides, no matter if the intent is justified or not. The images are so vivid and bone-chilling and you bring the past to life is such a way one can't help think of today as well.

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    1. And tomorrow...

      Thanks for returning to this series and for your meaningful commentary, Margaret.

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  10. I don’t feel I can speak to your poems as well as some of the others have. But in saying that, I agree with all of them. As I read, the images are so strong in my mind as is the futility of it all.

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  11. "And conquest left to the spirits of the dead"... such a potent image! I am in absolute awe of your response to the Villon quotes, Kerry!💜

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  12. Your tale is foretold is it not? All the same, history (his story) repeats and repeats, like the sound of the keys taping out the tale. And you have told it well!!! Thank you!

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  13. The foe building new barricades with bones is especially riveting. Wonderful writing.

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  14. Still you seek comfort
    in memory
    even as your mortal foe
    builds new barricades with your bones

    To fight injustice can be met even after one's demise

    Hank

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  15. This series is mos def heading to Syria. The last line points to The futility of it all. Building barricades of bones is most powerful.

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  16. truly powerful each alone and together. I hope you continue in this vein, because a series of these would be an amazing creation

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  17. These are each superb in their own right and yet collectively they heave a deep sigh of unlearning and why? Potent stuff Kerry.

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  18. The three together make a powerful statement. As I read the final line of the third, my mouth involuntarily twisted into what must have been a wry smile (or grimace!) at the irony and terrible truth.

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  19. Ah, your martial bent--in connection with poetry--is on full display here, Kerry. I, too, have often found ancient battles fascinating.

    I am playing catch-up after a 30 hour power outage. I wasn't ignoring you, dear Head Toad!

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  20. I'm "missed" some parts since I - so am here, before getting to IV ~

    so, shall we start, by way of ... II

    into the fire ....

    self-immolation –
    but ride instead bareback
    into the teeth of tribes

    stunning - these are teeth-clenching words, even for the reader, and it's an absolutely smashingly good, powerfully evocative aspect - wow!
    and it all just paints this vivid, concrete image, - its like you were there, Kerry, and have brought us the essence, the stink and stench of the battle, and yet, ahh, the sweet use of metaphors - and the opening quote? that is truly astounding .... works so well as a point of inspiration and companion to these ideas ...

    III


    and you find yourself halfway
    up a ladder
    counting arrows –
    as they flame and pierce
    you feel nothing but zeal –
    gore has slaked your thirst
    and your body consumes
    its own death –

    I swear, I must have been a crusader in another life, I can feel the intensity and zeal here,
    I love "counting arrows" - oh, this is mighty fine, (or should this be Mighty fine)

    and the quote is also well chosen .... and yes, again, if we step back and out of the actual battle unfolding in the mind, we can start to extract beyond the words, the history lessons, and sociological lessons, we creatures of habit, who still fail to comprehend ....

    definitely wonderful continuations .... off to enjoy the IV in this symphony.

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  21. "but ride instead bareback
    into the teeth of tribes"

    That is such a powerful image.

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