Unshaken Faith

Alliterative verse dedicated to Falun Gong practitioners who have faced persecution in China since July 20, 1999

The ground was broken, crusty, cracked
for miles and miles, and ever on,
and in the distance, black clouds called
out death and doom, from Hell they hailed.
The beast arose, its face like flame
its arms around, the far horizons;
its wake a storm, of dark domain.

A single knight, did solely stand
gold armor gleaming, Heaven’s mark
on steed he sat, that like its master
mute, unmoved, on the battle plain.
With courage cool, the knight looked on
right through the dark, to further fields,
his brave heart rose, to brim on madness,
yet tranquilly, they stood there still.

Then dashing on, he steered his steed,
two forces flying, ‘cross the land
no weapon wielded, in his hands,
yet faith held fast, its glory true,
The silence boomed, midst gallop n’ gale,
in each their eyes, the frosty flames
when just a breath, before colliding
from heaven’s heights, shone brightest light
right through the demon, dark dissolved,
the knight rode on, through patched domain
where demons falling, turned to rain.

 

On the Tearing Down of Confederate General Statues

Foreword

I was inspired to write the poem after hearing they were tearing down statues of Confederate generals (recently Robert E. Lee), and thought it was terrible that memory of this history is being destroyed for the sake of political correctness. Lee of course is partly credited with ending the Civil War, with his choice to surrender—against the will of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederates. I think Lee was broken after the death of Stonewall Jackson, his top general and his best friend. And I think he saw that others below him experienced similar loss. He knew estimates of the deaths in the last battle he was heading into, and he wasn’t willing to go through with it.

As for Stonewall Jackson, he was of course shot by accident by his own men, and later died. He was on the wrong side of history—the age of kings, which I refer to, was coming to an end; along with things like slavery and nobility. Jackson had believed that faith and servitude to God were the core points that would decide victory or defeat in battle. He was known for being unshaken by anything, believing that with faith he didn’t fear death, and so was as calm on the battlefield as in his own home. His men were likewise inspired by this, and fought bravely under him, winning victories even when the odds were against them. But the tides of history had other plans, and this poem is in their memory—to recognize that there are good men, even among those we may not agree with.

 

First I feared that the Gods had not favored the brave,
as together they fell in the field on that day.
Had the sun not shone warm on these men who once gave
their full hearts up to heaven, their lips up to pray?

How they howled and they charged through the blood and through lead,
Through the smoke of the cannons, their bayonets led.
And before their poised ranks, many doomed foe had fled;
They are valorous men, who in brotherhood bled.

I now see that these captains were never betrayed.
Their composure was steady, their faithfulness great;
yet as relics of old, in that time meant to stay,
as our age of great kings was laid down to the grave.

And yet, surely again Time will favor their days,
and redeem the warm mem’ry of their last crusade.

 

Twilight of the Gods

This poem is a retelling of Odin’s vision at Mimir’s well, when he saw that Loki would betray him, how Asgard would fall, and how the human world would be destroyed. The last battle is known as “Ragnarok,” or “The Twilight of the Gods.” To make the story simple, Odin gave one of his eyes as payment to drink from the well of wisdom at the roots of the World Tree, saw the battle at the end of time, then set out to create a new heaven to forge warriors (Valhallah) who would help the upright Gods win the last battle.

Heedings of future, hung heavy overhead
After drink of drought, vision divided
At wisdom’s well, at roots of the world
Where he witnessed, the warnings of war

When chaos unchained, from ancient cuffs
Freed from torment, and terrible fate
In vengeance it set, seeking sorrow
Across all heavens, hatred in heart
Heavy and harsh, to dark horizons
To blackest bidding, unholy brood
Three demons waiting, from witch’s woods
A woman of death, in withering form
A serpent to strangle, world from waters
A wolf to devour, in towering doom

And an evil army, from elder ice
Tall and terrible, took to sea
On ship of nails, from frost forlorn
Built through ages, with hatred sworn
A second army, arose towards plains
That hailed of fire, in hellish hue
Toward wood of world, to wither in flames

‘Gainst wild hate, would any withstand?
In twilight of time, in fall of man

Yet to Hel’s herald, he here beheld
A future formation, in fame foretold
From fields of men, in matchless marching
Bravery burning, in golden breast
Heroes hailing, to halls of heaven
Forged and fated, for final array

 

Joshua Philipp is a journalist living in New York City and Vice President of the Society of Classical Poets.

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One Response

  1. Cause Bewilder

    While in “Unshaken Faith” and “Twilight of the Gods,” Mr. Philipp uses alliterative verse, iambic tetrametres in the former piece, for his sonnet, “Upon the Tearing Down of the Confederate Statues,” he uses anapestic tetrametres. Of some interest to this topic is Realist poet Henry Timrod’s “Ode on the Confederate Dead,” which looks at the battle deaths prior to any statues.

    Sleep sweetly in your humble graves,
    Sleep, martyrs of a fallen cause!—
    Though yet no marble column craves
    The pilgrim here to pause.

    In seeds of laurels in the earth,
    The garlands of your fame are sown;
    And, somewhere, waiting for its birth,
    The shaft is in the stone.

    Meanwhile, your sisters for the years
    Which hold in trust your storied tombs.
    Bring all they now can give you—tears,
    And these memorial blooms.

    Small tributes, but your shades will smile
    As proudly on these wreaths to-day,
    As when some cannon-moulded pile
    Shall overlook this Bay.

    Stoop, angels, hither from the skies!
    There is no holier spot of ground,
    Than where defeated valor lies
    By morning beauty crowned.

    Reply

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