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Poetry: History


Non nobis, Domine

The knights are vanquished:  buried
in the mud.        The clarions
are overwhelmed in the avalanche
of cannon.        No gleaming armour,
no jewelled scabbards, no pennants or
ideals, only grimy rags on
young men shallow as graves in
tournaments of despair.  The knights are
vanquished,  the poets reduced
to calculation.

No lady weaves enchantments but
by dishonour:  from their looms,
a linen shroud, already rumpled,
for courtly passions.     The rest
are followers, moving with
the camp, slopping through sewage for
a ring, a plume, to serve as
advertisement for their debasement.

Do not look at them, lest they
catch sight, and not recognise you.

The knights are vanquished:
their women are sunk in harlotry.
Oh, do not look at them, but
turn your face to me.
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