Monday, June 13, 2016

Five Warriors: Hannibal, Charlemagne, Roland, William the Conqueror, & Henry V (Additions to "The Apology Box)

                    Short Ballade of Henry V            
                             (esse quam videri)

Although my youth was rough, I may defend
It.  By its terms, one's immaturity
Is that imperfect era one must spend
Developing, that time when logically
The mind and morals both are raw and we
Are all inferior.  I would not scheme
Like lesser youths and falsely polish me--
Hypocrisy's a sin.  I'd be, not seem.

When I was crowned, my youth was at its end.
Therefore, I ended my frivolity
Lest I live on a lie, lest I pretend
I somehow kept that younger quality
That I had lost.  I acted honestly
Instead when grown.  I battled till supreme
At Agincourt without distorting me--
Hypocrisy's a sin. I'd be, not seem.

Lord, now I'm but a spirit, I should be
In Heaven with the bodiless.  I’d dream
Of nothing else.  I’d feign no firmer me--
Hypocrisy's a sin.  I'd be, not seem.
             Ballade of William The Conqueror[2]
                (Norman conqueror of England)

They labeled me a bastard, hated me
In those first days.  Though not my deed, still they
Held me accountable.  Adultery
Was somehow, too, my crime.  “Christians” could say
I sinned before I was.  Fools!  Unborns may
Err though unmade?  What logic could defend
Such hate?  Such gibberish could never say
How everything would turn out in the end.

Perhaps Edward and Harold both told me
The throne was mine believing pledges they
Had made to bastards could be broken free
Of sin.  If so, I landed to convey
By my example some instruction.  They
Would learn what’s right from William, comprehend
As well his destiny.  They’d learn that way
How everything would turn out in the end.

I never doubted my enormity.
When I was young and made my pompous way
Into Westminster, I had certainty
Of my great measure.  Later as I lay
Enormous, bloated by the coffin they
Would force me in, I hardly could pretend
More  meagerness.  I’d learned to my dismay
How everything would turn out in the end.

Lord, now that rotting flesh and innards weigh
As much as self-importance did, commend
To Heaven one who finally saw today
How everything would turn out in the end.

             Hannibal’s Double Sonnet
       (A General whose name meant “favored by Baal”)

In mortal combat with cold, sterile Rome
I paralleled on earth Baal’s war with Mot,
Black lord of death and infertility.
As Baal climbed up the frigid Milky Way
To chase the fiend, I climbed the snowy Alps
(To me as high and far) in my pursuit
Of Mot's foul children on the Tiber's banks.
As Baal walked stars once (some of which came loose
And flashed below), I walked those Alpine peaks
To me as high and splendid under snows
As Milky Ways I might have crossed.
As Baal raised fearsome armies, I raised up
My troops of diverse colors borne by beasts
Unseen in colder climates till we marched.

We brought our vengeance down on trembling Rome
With "Dido!" on our lips.  Baal’s furies, we
Combatted evil in that filthy place
With prayers Rome’s blood would also satisfy
The sacrifices priests informed us Baal
Required of men for earth’s fertility. 
When Carthage could no longer fund the stay
In Italy, I set out on my own
And scourged the various portions of her boot
Until I had no exit left and thus
Turned on myself to pilfer once again
Rome's final victory.  With my own blade
I took Rome's trophy--Rome could not parade
A ghost in chains.  Thus, I became a shade.

            Ballade of Charlemagne[1]
                (King of the Franks)

The center was usurped and carried east
Though Rome defined the circle.  Finding that
Too byzantine for reason, I rebelled
Against such strange distortions.  As the law
Of Rome of course is Roman I therefore
Pulled back a western throne distended east
Restoring law and proving by the deed
That Rome reclaimed law, faith and art through me.

Distorting earth distorted heaven, too,
Inverting Peter’s throne outside itself
Into an oriental occident
Of nonsense.  Peter’s throne (like Peter, too)
Was crucified inverted, overturned
By making east of west until I raised
The popes again and proving by the deed
That Rome reclaimed law, faith and art through me.

Though art was warped as well, bent toward the east,
I drew it back into its occident
Where Ovid, Virgil, Horace and the rest
Wrote, where bright architects raised monuments
Not even knowing Christ.  But I knew him.
We wrote of him and raised cathedrals that
Befit the son of God and proving by the deed
That Rome reclaimed law, faith and art through me.

O Lord, I am the West’s embodiment.
It rises once again through me.  If I
Fall, half the world falls with me.  None can doubt
That Rome reclaimed law, faith and art through me.

              Roland’s Rhetoric                    

From where I stand upon these starry peaks,
Mere Pyrenees I climbed and crossed below
Seem childish exploits now I gaze beyond
The world itself.  Mere Spain seems but a speck
Compared to what unfolds beyond these stars
Inviting me to cross.  Should I await
Some horn sound from the Lord?  Or rather should
I simply charge these heights?  How can I know?  
Our minds are limited, can never do
A proper syllogism.  Only God
(Who knows all things) can know all premises
Required for proof. Perhaps we even risk
Our souls through hubris thinking we can think?
I'll not run endless circles of "what if?"
Debating tactics or morality.
Wise, honest men don't think.  They simply do,
And like the best of them I'll charge forth, too.  

© Harold Anthony Lloyd 2016
The current contents of "The Apology Box" can be found here.

[1] According to various sources, the poet’s 38th great-grandfather through Thomas Yale.
[2] According to various sources, the poet’s 27th great-grandfather through Thomas Yale and 29th great-grandfather through Anne Lloyd Yale.

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