THE VETERAN

Posted by Admin on Sunday, 25th June 2006, 00:00

Unseen out on an astral plain
the spectre of a warrior, deceased
ere Christ was born, reviews
with awe and nascent fear
the hostile forces under arms,
appalled by their potential
remotely to destroy.

Recalling ancient battles fought,
to Xerxes held in fee,
remorse feels for the men he slew
unmoved by enmity,
in vain he hopes the Sun God
his earth-bound soul will free.

For he of the Immortals one,
once crossed the Hellespont
then bridged by barges, stem to stern,
with nine score hundred thousand men,
diverse in customs, colour, race;
from Ethiops white daubed and red,
to goat skin mantled Lycians
plume capped, and fierce Assyrians,
their burnished helms of brass agleam,
augmenting Persia’s host en route
for Therma and Thermopylae
predestined for defeat.
He, too, had served a tyrant who
with hubris omens had ignored
the warning shadow of an eagle
that over Mithra’s altar soared.

A supplicant to Mithra,
of old his deity,
he prays for all the victims
of war’s iniquity:
the women and the children
with lives in jeopardy:
the witnesses of carnage
no human eyes should see.

T. C. Hudson

© T. C. Hudson.
This work may not be reproduced without prior permission of the author.

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