Crusader (iii)

by August 30, 2015 0 comments

After the incredible victory at Antioch the road to Jerusalem lay wide open. With a forced march the Crusaders could have been there within a month, instead it would take more than a year, as in-fighting and power politics took over and the entire ramshackle enterprise teetered on the brink of collapse.
During this period there was a distinct shift amongst the leadership from armed pilgrimage/holy war to the acquisition of land, influence, wealth and power.
And still in the distance, just beyond their reaching hands, Jerusalem.

Jerusalem,
ours within the month,
but hobbled we were
by the bickering lords,
each mounting the other
to make himself tall
in the laughing eyes of God.

Time’s sand
stilled in the glass.

Fifteen hundred German warriors,
new crusaders
fresh off the boats,
each of them dead
within weeks of embarking
not a single one ever
even drawing a blade.

Disease, deadly as arrows,
pierced their skin,
sent them to judgement,

untested.

Thatcher John, now a man,
hollow eyed and grim of mien,
took to himself a woman disgraced,
“still she is the better of me,
not carrying sin as black as mine,”
his cold words coughed,
hawked and spat,
in to a struggling fire.

Out on the plateau
Of Jabal-as-Summaq,
Raymond Pilet and his mighty men
proffered to villagers
the Christ of love,
those who declined
were made to kneel,
then swiftly put to
the sword’s sharp edge.

Calling on the mercy of God
as useful to them as predicting the past.

And through that savage Syrian winter
a siren call from further south,
Jerusalem Holy, Jerusalem Still, Jerusalem Shining,
Gods will, Gods will, Gods will.

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