Saturday, 21 December 2013

Hohenlinden

These verses of mine were inspired by the poem, Hohenlinden, by the Scottish poet, Thomas Campbell. His poem commemorates the Battle of Hohenlinden, which was fought near Munich, on the 3rd of December, 1800, between the French and the Austrian/Bavarian allies, during the War of the Second Coalition. Campbell's poem has eight stanzas and is primarily in iambic tetrameter, with a rhyme scheme of aaab. It also has a studied peculiarity in that the last line of each stanza, bar the final one, ends in a multi-syllable b-rhyme.

Here is the first stanza of Hohenlinden:


ON Linden, when the sun was low,
All bloodless lay the untrodden snow;
And dark as winter was the flow
Of Iser, rolling rapidly.

My verses are essentially a sequence of practice sessions, rather than an attempt at an alternative version focussing on some other battle. They follow the aaab scheme and the rhythm of the b rhyme at the end of each stanza, with the added discipline of enforcing a single syllable end rhyme to each line. Perhaps one of these verses will end up as a poem in its own right. If so, I'll call it Niederlinden.

50,000 BC – 2199 AD

ON Earth, when she was in her prime,
when poets played with words that rhyme,
how martial were the bold that time
of mortals, warring incessantly.

3800 BC The Battle of the Ten Kings

Bharatha's king once won a war,
with archers and an elephant corps,
in north-west India, but what for
o Sudas, battling vaingloriously?

1457 BC The Battle of Megiddo

The Pharaoh Thutmose went to smite
the Canaanites who'd deigned to fight
against the full besieging might
of Egypt's expanding authority.

480 BC The Battle of Thermopylae

Bold Xerxes took to warlike ways
depicted by the Greeks in plays,
but met his match for two full days
in the narrows of Thermopylae.

331 BC The Battle of Gaugamela

Alexander was the general king
whose tactics split the Persian's wing
and still the Macedonians sing
of a legend's immortality.

216 BC The Battle of Cannae

Crossing the Alps was quite a feat,
when Hannibal had Romans beat
and at Cannae, his triumph sweet,
old Carthage won decisively.

71 BC The Battle of the Siler River

The leader of the rebel slaves
was Spartacus, whose routed braves
were crucified, nailed up in waves,
but death gave him immunity.

83 AD The Battle of Mons Graupius

And Calgacus, his chariots manned,
beneath a hill on Pictish land,
defied the Legions in a stand
that Romans called insurgency.

685 AD The Battle of Dun Nechtain

King Ecgfrith lost his last great fight
at Nechtansmere, which was the site
and all the ancient annals cite
its inaccessibility.


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