The Song of the Sword, Poetry by B R Peabody

Genre: Society, Life

In the pain of the furnace my body was forged,
Longer than life have I been;
The fury of battle is where I have gorged,
On kidney and liver and spleen;
You think me a trinket so prettily shown,
Yet many’s the life I have claimed;
Parting the sinew and hewing the bone,
My mercy is leaving you maimed;
In hope I was wrought and in anger unsheathed,
Blood flows like wine where I’ve played;
I’m promised to Death and to Chaos bequeathed,
For I am the Devil’s own blade.


Oh thou fool if only you could see the sights I’ve seen,
If only you’d experienced the places I have been;
I rode the Steppes of Russia on the horse of Genghis Khan,
And hacked and slew the peasants on the roads to Kazakhstan.
I’ve taken life of woman and I’ve taken life of child,
And watched them rape survivors ere their temples were defiled;
Then in the hands of Subotai I sang the reaper’s song,
To cross the frozen Volga drinking blood all winter long.

I swam the Sajo river to a feast of rended flesh,
And slashed the fleeing Magyars as they ran into our mesh;
I faced the hordes of China as the Kerulen they crossed,
To share the bitter anguish of my Mongols who were lost.
I passed in trade for silver to a Christian warrior’s child,
Who carried me across the sea of waves so fierce and wild;
The long years of his childhood I was idle save for show,
But lo – he grew to manhood so it’s off to war we go!

We crossed the heaving waters in a hundred years of war,
To visit our destruction on a place called Agincourt;
And when the French attacked our camp in vain malicious hope,
I slew three score of prisoners securely bound in rope.
I’ve hacked and stabbed the Scottish and the Welsh on mountains blue,
And paid in chinking golden coins I’ve killed some English too;
I’ve disembowelled the Irish at Drogheda and The Boyne,
And seen them staked and screaming as the knife cuts out the groin.

Across the Himalayas I’ve killed tribesmen by the score,
And marched them all upon my point to yield their winter store;
In lofty mountain passes countless thousands have I slain,
But still the fools come on that I may taste them yet again.
I’ve backed them into holes and caves and slaughtered every one,

And where I cleave no man may breathe that I have touched upon;
They’ve carried me in hatred and in dying laid me down,
Then placed me gleaming on his chest whilst bearing him through town.

I’ve razed the shining city and I’ve laid the temple low,
For none may see what I have seen or know what I may know;
My cutting edge has bitten deep in smashed and bloodied breasts,
And burst upon the banquet as the host has slain his guests.
I’ve cut the Sikh to ribbons in the pass at Kandahar,
And watched the rebels boiled in oil and dipped in molten tar;
I’ve fought and slain the Moguls and the Afghan in his turn,
And slew the Turk so often I believe he’ll never learn.

I’ve sacked and pillaged cities where the children called us names,
How often have I left their bodies burning in the flames;
I’ve been the pain of mothers and the hate of grieving wives,
And witnessed strong men beg for death beneath the red-hot knives.
I served the Lord Protector in his strong and steady hand,
How proudly did he raise me as his tool to tame the land;
Often I have revelled in the blood of countless foes,
Just to spite the mother’s pride I’ve hewed the daughter’s nose.
I’ve been the bane of bandits and at times the bane of law,
At times I’ve taken rich men and at times I took the poor;

I’ve spilled warm blood in virgin snow and drained it into sand,
I smashed Marsin at Blenheim and Sanjar at Samarkand.
Behind me there is weal and woe in front just naked dread,
On either side for mile on mile are piles of butchered dead;
To beat me into farmyard tools is often heard the threat,
But I’ve been here forever and I’m not a ploughshare yet!

Wherever there was ringing steel it’s there I’ve tasted blood,
For on the raging ramparts of Granada have I stood;
I’ve watched the blazing campfires of my enemies at night,
But come the morn when I am drawn I’m sharp and gleaming bright.
They’ve polished me with sharkskin and they’ve burnished me with care,
And cleaned the blood from cutting edge with locks of corpses hair;
I held the bridge at Pedu and the gates at Chandrapur,
And finished off the wounded in the streets of Bangalore.

I’ve hacked my way through living flesh and gloried in the stench,
Or watched on from my scabbard as my master raped a wench;
I charged the guns at Waterloo and smashed in many a head,
Upon the morning after I watched peasants loot the dead.
My path is strewn with corpses for my tally’s long and deep,
I’ve known the weak man lose his mind and seen the strong man weep;
I’ve watched the blue ranks break and run and rushed to hunt them down,
And seen their lifeblood cloak them in a sodden scarlet gown.

I’ve heard the keening grapeshot as it thunders through the air,
And when they charged the Russian guns my gleaming blade was there.
I’ve taken life in anger and I’ve taken life in fun,

And watched the bloodied grass glow red in many a morning sun;
From Omdurman to Crecy – from Kabul to Chandrapur,
I’ve seen them run like women or come on to take some more.
But always there is carnage on the sullied fields of death,
And often there is knowledge as they draw that final breath.

You dare to wear me casually for you are but a boy,
And show me off when on parade as though I were a toy.
You thrill the pretty ladies with the stories from your lips,
And little do you contemplate the killer at your hips.
Resplendent in your uniform you swagger to the mess,
To talk of fights and battles at which you can only guess.
You think to boast of slaying with your tales of blood and gore?
How little do you know, oh fool, speak not to me of war!

    * * * * *

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