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Poetry: History

 

Testament at Aachen, 814 CE

Fear nothing but the forest:
the grace of God
has given two swords.  
                       Two swords
but no ax: conquer Saracen
and Saxon, the forest remains,
and, in the night,
sends armies on the wind.

Build bridges and roads:
the shadow of the forest
laps across them
               like a rising
sea. Fill the roads
with messengers and trade:
at night, the branches whisper.
No coin shall dispel
the stratagems of darkness.

Let all the forests know I am
their King:

                in their depths,
no bishops, courts,
or vows.         Fell, then,
the Saxons' holy, heathen tree:
the forest knows no single,
sacred place.   
                Slay
forty-five hundred trunks:
no blood proclaims our victory,
the forest
          resettles its own.

King of the Lombards, King of
the Franks. The Lion,
          at Christmas, leads
the Roman chant:
                 "Charles,
Augustus, crowned,"
                    he notes,
"by the grace of God,
Emperor of the Romans, Guide of
Christian men."
                The Avar Ring
surrendered to the forest.
The Danes appear
in ships of northern wood.

Fear nothing but the forest:
the swords of God light up no
tree-thick wastes.
                  On the Field
of May, no tribute
is laid by the lords of wilderness.
At the synod of bishops,
                       no voices
speak the whisper of
branches and vines.

The palace rides to the babble of
several tongues.
                No sound it speaks
is unfamiliar to my ears.
I look across
               three hundred
uncrowned heads:
how small a host upon the golden road,
how thin our line,
between the patient trees.
                           I am
too tall. No court,
however radiant, hides from me
the armies of wilderness
arrayed to watch us pass.

Send me scholars and women:
let there be wisdom, or forgetfulness.

Fear nothing but the forest:
with God's two swords,
I have hewed out roads and trade,
laws, courts and words
                      to light
the darkened minds of
men. From Saxony to Spain, from
Aachen to
         Saint Peter's fief,
I have seen
the pale glow of worship in the dusk.
Hands, not my own, but
                      mine
to command, have ordered
the laws of all our
                  several tongues.

At the edge of the forest,
the light expires. The language
of trees is sybillant,
                      unknown.
The forest does not move.

Send me women, and scholars.
Between our lands, we never cease
to ride.          In several tongues,
I draw the web of justice.
                          Unaided,
I pass judgement on
the heretic words of the East.
Other hands are active at my voice:
school the children in the order of
words.                    Teach them to
my sons.

The trees conspire
in no known tongue,
dividing the counties, and
darkening men's minds.
                      The roads
may also bear armies
against us,      the rivers
are roads to ships of silent wood.
                                 Two swords
are given by
the grace of God: two swords,
but no ax.
             Teach this to
my sons: fear nothing
but the forest. Do not neglect
the silence of the wood.
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