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The Knight, a tale of ancient times

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Historical Note: In 1095 Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade encouraging military support for the Byzantine Empire. One of its aims was to guarantee pilgrims access to Eastern Mediterranean holy sites that were under Muslim control. Some scholars say, however, that Urban's strategy may have been to unite the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom and establish himself as head of the unified Church. In any event, the response to his preachings was enthusiastic among all classes in Western Europe. Volunteers became Crusaders by taking a public vow and receiving plenary (full) indulgences from the Church. Some even hoped for a mass ascension into heaven at Jerusalem or God's forgiveness for their sins. On a more elemental level, others participated to satisfy feudal obligations, obtain glory and honor, or to seek economic and political gain. And there were some, no doubt, who simply enjoyed a good fight...the bloodier the better. The two-century endeavor ended in failure. Following the First (1096-1099), there were six additional major Crusades and numerous less significant ones. Because no records were kept of non-combatants, i.e. family members, servants, etc., who traveled with the Crusader soldiers, there is no real estimate of how many actually lost their lives during those horrendously dark and tumultuous years. Whatever the number, even one would have been too many for such an ignoble cause. What more shameful oxymoron: a holy war. (Wikipedia...and me.)

This is a tale of ancient times
And a knight of valiant heraldry
Who followed true his knightly code,
The weight of righteousness his load,
All sheathed in heaven's grace he rode
And practiced naught save chivalry.

From the Pope a rally call went out,
A Crusade to the Holy Land.
A Christian force endorsed by God,
His might would be their shield and rod,
To travel to where Jesus trod
And rescue it from Muslim hands.

With hand on heart the knight stepped forth
And allegiance to the cause he swore.
He came in piety enthralled,
Pledging fortune, honor, life, his all
In answer to Pope Urban's call
To fight in this most holy war.

The "holiness" of war wears thin
When it endures for three full years.
The knight felt doubt begin to brew,
Still would he slash, and hack, and hew,
And pray for his and every soul he slew,
And wonder why his God would not allay his fears.

Not all who fought were soldiers of the Cross like he,
Many came for just what they could take.
Though blessed and claiming to be heaven sent,
The knight soon kenned their chief intent,
And watched them kill, and rape, and pillage as they went,
Leaving ruined lives and mutilated corpses in their wake.

His faith now frayed, the knight, dismayed,
One day his shield failed to deflect a fatal spear.
His eyes sought heaven ere he died.
Was this for naught, had Urban lied?
In anguish, "Wherefore, God?" he cried,
Then falling to his knees, but not in prayer, he perished there.

Two hundred years the battles raged
With no real Christian victory attained.
The ones who died there now are dust,
No matter if the cause was just,
The Crusades failed, and at what cost,
For so much lost, so little gained.

Here ends my tale of ancient times 
And a knight who died vaingloriously.
His life was brief, his ending sad,
He learned too late, as Jesus had,
He'd trusted in an unjust God,
And Death cares naught for chivalry.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2018

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Date: 7/13/2018 12:44:00 AM
Bravo! Bravo! Encore. You've summed up the inglorious history of Death in the name of the Cross … Looking forward to one on the French Revolution, whose motto Dickens rightly penned as: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Death. Or perhaps on our Muslim "brothers" in Jordan who slaughtered 250,000 of their own "Palestinian brothers" in cold blood in September, 1971. The list goes on and on and on: Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Sadam Hussein, Bashar Assad - Leftist crusaders have replaced the Cross!
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Date: 7/8/2018 9:26:00 PM
Hi Jim.. Tonight, the mountain sky is clear. In a few hours the stars will tease me with their winks. The twilight is for your poem, and it's as enjoyable as the coming sunset!
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Jim Slaughter
Date: 7/9/2018 11:53:00 AM
Thank you, L M.