If Saracen means Muslim then we modern westerners would do well to absorb and heed the message in this work—every bit more valid today than a hundred years ago when it was written.
THIS ONE TOO
is pure art, but art with a message. I don’t intend to go into the politics of it, I’m just here to admire—
WAR SONG OF THE SARACENS
We are they who come faster than fate: we are they who ride early or late:
We storm at your ivory gate: Pale Kings of the Sunset, beware!
Not on silk nor in samet we lie, not in curtained solemnity die
Among women who chatter and cry, and children who mumble a prayer.
But we sleep by the ropes of the camp, and we rise with a shout, and we tramp
With the sun or the moon for a lamp, and the spray of the wind in our hair.
From the lands, where the elephants are, to the forts of Merou and Balghar,
Our steel we have brought and our star to shine on the ruins of Rum.
We have marched from the Indus to Spain, and by God we will go there again;
We have stood on the shore of the plain where the Waters of Destiny boom.
A mart of destruction we made at Jalula where men were afraid,
For death was a difficult trade, and the sword was a broker of doom;
And the Spear was a Desert Physician who cured not a few of ambition,
And drave not a few to perdition with medicine bitter and strong:
And the shield was a grief to the fool and as bright as a desolate pool,
And as straight as the rock of Stamboul when their cavalry thundered along:
For the coward was drowned with the brave when our battle sheered up like a wave,
And the dead to the desert we gave, and the glory to God in our song.
– James Elroy Flecker
—and what could be more admirable than simple lines that conjure up such wide-screen imagery? What do you see when you read: “as straight as the rock of Stamboul when their cavalry thundered along”~?
How about that “shore of the plain where the Waters of Destiny boom” for pure metaphorical majesty? Even as a kid I got that one—and loved it—although it took a few more years and some wider general knowledge to understand the whole work.
A WORK FOR OUR TIMES?
… yes …