My attempt at covering Alexander’s conquests in verse – finished for now, but a work in progress.
Armed with spear and bow and sword,
So advanced the Gallic horde.
At Gergovia struck a blow;
Laid the Roman legions low.
At Alesia – fortified,
There the legions, they defied;
But besieged by Roman might,
Weakened, they gave up the fight.
Vercingetorix the bold,
On his horse adorned with gold,
Swiftly then to Caesar went;
Rode a circle round his tent,
Then dismounted at his feet,
Flung his armour, took his seat
On now uncontested ground;
Looked to Caesar, made no sound.
So to Rome he was conveyed;
In captivity he stayed.
Soon, said Caesar: “While he lives,
To the tribes, false hope he gives.
He, to Rome, no loyalty feigns,
At my Triumph, bound in chains,
Let this King, to all the Gauls,
Show how low their saviour falls;
Then to foil his Gallic tricks,
I drank beer with some of the guys
Who crewed her, but now her demise
Is near – she can rest;
She was one of the best.
Vale USS Enterprise.
Since 1696 nine ships of the Royal Navy have had the name
“HMS Terror”. The sixth HMS Terror explored the Antarctic and Arctic before being lost in the ice. She is mentioned in Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”. The last HMS Terror was the naval base at Sembawang in Singapore ( a so called stone frigate) from 1945 to 1975.
By “Terror” known – the name they proudly bore;
At Sembawang the last was built.
She languished there beside this foreign shore;
Her namesakes sinking in the silt.
For centuries they sailed for England’s pride;
By wind and screw they sallied forth.
Nine ships, and then this last she died,
And none will bear the name henceforth.
Three hundred years of “Terror”, proudly shown
Upon the prows of England’s ships.
As changing times throughout the East dethrone,
From Empire’s grasp a jewel slips.
A symbol of how transient the gains
Of crumbling queens and navies too.
This isle no more will hear foreign refrains
As sailors march in proud review.
For all must leave – to home and kin they must
Return, on ships of other names.
HMS Terror crumbles into dust;
The Lion at last, its prey it claims.
The warrior lay on his sweat-soaked bed.
Amid his battle scars a tiny bite
Had let a foe within – a parasite,
And none, however great, could match its might.
On canvas walls faint flickered flames of light
As burned his army’s campfires in the night.
So slowly did the world fade from his sight.
The Macedonian gave up the fight;
At thirty two the conqueror was dead.
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Now gone, the moat of ocean wide and deep,
As in the north appears a bridge of land
And on the beaches, footprints in the sand.
The spreading hordes through virgin forests creep.
With club and spear, a harvest rich they reap,
As fire-sticks strike and high the flames are fanned
As winds of change sweep through this ancient land
To wake it from its long primeval sleep.
Now clear are seen and heard portents of doom:
The plumes of smoke, and too, the warning sound
Of feet that stamp upon the blackened ground.
Thus giants the land had nurtured in her womb
Will but in dreaming legends soon be found –
Invaders will consign them to the tomb.
Those long remembered scented nights
Beneath the glow of Kranji’s lights,
Beside the pool, where once had danced
The girls the boys had once romanced.
The place still had the magic then,
And I’d imagine Maugham with pen
In that white house across the straits
As he wrote tales of men – their fates,
As sun, slow sinking, set the scene
On old Malaya warm and green,
And vanished slow, the grand old ways
As Empire lived its twilight days.
Avoid the Senate on these Ides
Of March, my Julius dear.
Each senator your name derides
And treachery they whisper in each ear.
Their loyalties move like the tides;
And to a low the sea recedes, I fear.
‘a fine noble fellow poor Kennedy was’ – Thomas Huxley
Through the swell and the spray on the twentieth day
Sailed the barque “Tam O’Shanter” that May,
And behind in her wake, the corvette “Rattlesnake”,
As they swept into Rockingham Bay.
Thirteen men the boats bore, and the stroke of each oar
Brought them on to that forbidding shore,
Where they set out to walk to the tip of Cape York –
All that lay in between to explore.
They were bushmen and tough and would brook no rebuff
As they conquered the rugged and rough
Ridges ragged and green, steep and split with ravine,
And descended each perilous bluff.
But soon rations grew short, with their strength the miles bought,
And with peril the enterprise fraught.
With their goal growing dim, faces hopeless and grim,
Dreams of glory were coming to naught.
Over hellish terrain, all done in, wracked with pain,
Struggling on with but honour to gain,
Ever northward they trekked, bodies starving and wrecked;
Now their struggle was clearly in vain.
From the swamps and the heat there would be no retreat,
And but two left to witness defeat.
One now close to his end – Jackey Jackey, his friend,
And the tragedy almost complete.
After such a cruel test where he gave of his best,
From a wild black, a spear pierced his breast.
Twenty miles from the cape, by the river – “Escape”,
Edmond Kennedy went to his rest.