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Poetry: History

 

Arthur

They know my name.
Though all else is lost in
the darkness cast by
Saxons and scriveners, still,
they know my name, and
my victories, here and abroad.

They know I was betrayed,
and did not return.

I was High King.   I treated
with Emperors, and led
twelve thousand -- a soldier
commanding soldiers,
taking our needs from the land
to sustain a miracle that
could not last:  the containment
of barbarism, the reprieve
before eclipse.

In the Saxon slaughter, how many
died, dreaming of my peace,
and my eventual return?

Say now, which is mightier, pen,
or sword?   Who knows the abbey,
or where the cloister, rased by
the oversweeping flames?
All lost, nameless, beneath
fields tilled by the sons of
conquerors, and those
who conquered them.

Who hear, across the ages, of
greater than I was, of victories
passed down, not in books, but
in taverns and tents, and know
the name of my enemy, at last,
only because they know
                 my name.
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