The Reincarnations of Donald J. Trump

after Andrew Benson Brown’s Legends of Liberty 


I. 218 B.C.

Above the mellow grass, cliff faces soar
Like walls to house a huge primeval god.
The pass into the valley is his door
Through which a hundred thousand soldiers plod.
Their war horns echo, ominous to ears
Of villagers who stand as still as stone;
At once they rush around and shout their fears
Until they are resigned that they’re now owned
By these invaders swarming through the Alps
(In times of utter panic, full submission helps).

“What are those things?” they ask in disbelief
To see such massive creatures lumber in;
It brings them fascination mixed with grief
To see the tube snout, flap-ears, and strange grin
That have been brought from Africa to strike
At Rome’s Republic—crossing first at Spain
Then trudging on a thousand-mile hike
To clutch their foe and rain down epic pain.
These awesome elephants with mounted archers,
However, weren’t most prominent among the marchers.

One stood out as the helmsmen steering all:
Great Hannibal of Carthage, lean and sharp—
A natural commander quick to call
Out orders but not needlessly to carp.
His ready eyes pierce many hundred miles
To Rome, his looming goal and fated doom.
His armies throng in morning light; he smiles
To see the edelweiss are in full bloom.
Some villagers in deference approach.
He says, “Apologies, my friends, we must encroach.”


II. A.D. 1796

Though pale-faced locals do not smile back,
Their mayor bows and offers up his sword;
His glances look for signs of an attack
But do not find them on this decked-out lord.
He sees instead the face of confidence
With flag and uniform: red, white, and blue.
Serenely his new liege’s words commence:
“I am a Marshal of the French and you
By now must know the name Napoleon.
He sends me here to find out just which side you’re on.

“He gives to you your freedom from the past
Corruption and injustices you’ve known.
He told my men and me, don’t be a pest
To you, respect your land and all you own;
So if we plunder you, we would face death.
This message shall be brought to all of Europe,
Enlightening the world to our last breath.
Your wealth and homes we will protect, not use up.”
The locals chatter, thoroughly amazed,
And eyes of younger ones look up tear-filled and glazed.

The vast Republican army rests there well.
Young men come close, inquire about enlisting;
And many, one day, will to join the swell
That forms across the continent, persisting
To elevate an Emperor of all…
That is until the wave sinks to oblivion,
The waters never rising from their fall—
The Waterloo that wrecks Napoleon.
For now, though, feet march on in harmony
To join another army soon in Tuscany.


III. August, 1943

At last, the marching stops. Then infantry
And lines of tanks stream in past ghastly homes
Eviscerated by artillery.
Through empty window holes a spirit roams,
Soon banished by the joyfulness that comes
On soldiers’ faces flush with victory
And glad to meet their allies, British chums,
Upon a dusty city street in Sicily.
There pointing where to go from on his tank
Is General George Patton sporting a three-star rank.

Reporters, soldiers, townsfolk gather round,
Anticipating his remarks; and he,
For his part, plans to perfectly astound
Them with accounts of just how gallantly
The U.S. Army has performed, and how
It reached the city sooner than the Brits
Did. But, awaiting someone, he for now
Chats with the press who’ve come. His sharp eye flits
From badge to badge and notices a Russian
Reporter, tearing Patton from his glib discussion.

The Russians, allies now against the Germans,
Bring with them power from the East
But also bring their godless party sermons
That are no better than the Nazis’ beast.
Within his mind’s eye, Patton sees what looms:
A force bent on destroying human nature
That fills one hundred million tear-stained tombs;
A century of stinking lies that torture.
He shakes it off, returning to the present,
Addressing everyone with manner rough but pleasant:


IV. January 6, 2021

“The fake news media suppress the news.
They have their own opinion, I have mine.
We used to have a fight, express our views;
That’s how it always worked and that worked fine.
But now they’re more like communists, who won’t
Report that hundreds of thousands gather here;
Who all know there is something wrong and want
Elections that are free of fraud and clear
Of any hint that ballots were abused,
Were harvested, were forged—egregiously misused.”

Concluding his remarks, Don Trump calls for
A peaceful fight to win the people’s trust
By marching to the legislature’s door
And simply asking for what’s fair and just;
But little does he know that traps are laid:
The Speaker of the House, the FBI,
and certain generals have not yet played
Their hands. They watch with eager eagle eye
In hopes that riots will destroy this movement
That sees a land made “great again” as an improvement.

The driver tells him that it is not safe
If they continue to the Capitol building
As planned. The shackles of reality chafe
As Trump now sees he’s trapped—the rage ungilding
For just a moment, then it’s gone; he knows
He is not in this for himself, nor for
A single party. But he hears his foes
Are laughing at his useless marching corps.
The shadows cast by birds of prey above
Fly ravenously round the nation’s turtle dove.



“Who is that?” he asks while looking out,
Through trees, at evening’s blinding final ray—
A silhouetted figure rides a route
Just out of view, flanked by a vast array
Of followers. A man of flesh or light?
The one who lived in legends come at last?
Who lifetime after lifetime slips from sight
Into the misty future from the past?
Who is it gathering his forces there,
Existing less in form than in the troubled air?

It is the one this soul has always followed,
Who now retakes the high ground and who holds
Within his one hand all that’s holy, hallowed,
And heavenly, emitting beams of gold;
Who holds within the other hand a scepter
Unleashing crushing force from warrior angels
Splitting to bloody shreds the Marxist specter
While flying from ten thousand deadly angles.
He has returned, the Emperor of Light,
Who’s come to save us all, including this same knight.



Evan Mantyk teaches literature and history in New York and is Editor of the Society of Classical Poets.

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26 Responses

  1. Cynthia Erlandson

    Evan, this is so well put-together. I can’t imagine how long it took for you to write it. I love the way you join the sections, particularly the end of the first (Hannibal smiling to the villagers) to the beginning of the second (when the locals do not smile back). Then part two ends with marching, and part three begins with marching. The way you’ve linked this history to our present is quite ingenious!

    • Evan Mantyk

      Thank you, Cynthia! The foundation for this was the views, writings, and poetry of General Patton, who believed he was Hannibal in his past life, as well as one of Napoleon’s marshals. It is said that without ever visiting certain locations in Europe he knew the lay of the land already and had vivid recollections of his experiences. Added to this was the fact that Patton bore a striking resemblance to Trump, who is a Patton admirer, and that Patton died the year before Trump was born… just sayin’.

  2. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Wow! These are fantastic reincarnations with powerful words and visions that should shake the foundations of leftist-liberals and make them fear what will come, now or in the future. Oh, that’s right! No wonder he is the subject of their persecution! Unfortunately, we only get one or two such men of truth and intended humane purpose once or twice in a lifetime. These are at the top with the greatest poems ever written! I pray they persist into the future and mankind will not only take note of them but heed their message. Please include them in the “Journal” to be published in 2024.

    • Evan Mantyk

      Thank you, Roy. It is interesting how the more wildly they go after Trump, the more they validate his relevance and leave no doubt as to his intrinsic power independent of a political position… these traits are exactly what politicians and people running for office today tend to lack.

      • Mike Bryant

        Evan, when I saw the title I had no idea how you were going to make it work. But you did it splendidly.
        Trump was born less than 6 months after Patton died… 176 days… so the numbers work out, don’t they?

  3. jd

    I agree with Cynthia and you couldn’t have penned a truer ending. It’s all very well done.

  4. Jeff Eardley

    Evan, this has the hallmark of great poetry. I hung on every word, knowing where it might be going, but then, you went further. Absolutely brilliant.

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    All four men are examples of what today is derisively called “toxic masculinity.” But the plain truth is that they were energetic, forceful, quick-thinking individuals who knew how to work and achieve vigorously, and who brushed aside all carping criticism. Without such types, a nation is lost.

    • Evan Mantyk

      Joe, I’m reminded of Socrates’s questions about who you would rather have defending your life. Would you rather have someone accused of toxic masculinity or the accuser? The answer is obvious.

  6. Shamik Banerjee

    Dear Evan, I like the idea of your poem. The age-wise depiction of the characters while rooting them in reincarnation is a unique concept. You’ve beautifully pulled off the whole thing. Thank you for sharing.

  7. ABB

    Hey…I recognize this stanza form! Very well done, a lovely epyllion on a worthy subject. Our age really is a mirror of the past.
    Love the couplet, “The shadows cast by birds of prey above / Fly ravenously round the nation’s turtle dove.”

    I feel like this should be read in public over a loudspeaker.

    • Evan Mantyk

      Yeah, I think trying to understand what our country is going through was one of the impetuses behind this poem.

  8. Brian A. Yapko

    A skillful and intriguing poem, Evan, with a fascinating premise. Perhaps there are no coincidences for, as it happens, I’m working on a poem of my own involving George Patton, albeit on a very different aspect of World War II. When I read your poem — especially the part which concerns Hannibal — I was reminded of the haunting scene in “Patton” when George C. Scott visits the ruins of Carthage and mysteriously explains to his fellow officers that he was there 2000 years ago fighting with the Carthaginians. Patton was a strong believer in reincarnation and a sophisticated student of history. And he even wrote poetry! Have you by chance read his “Through a Glass, Darkly” which describes his reincarnations? I am particularly glad for the unexpected presence of one of my personal heroes in this fine tribute poem.

    • Evan Mantyk

      Thank you, Brian. I often find poets submitting poems on strangely similar topics at the same time, with no knowledge of the other’s work. And so it is with us. Yes, I’m very familiar with Patton’s views and poetry, which formed the basis of this poem. I am posting Patton’s “Through a Glass, Darkly” below, for those who might be interested:

      Through the travail of the ages,
      Midst the pomp and toil of war,
      I have fought and strove and perished
      Countless times upon this star.

      In the form of many people
      In all panoplies of time
      Have I seen the luring vision
      Of the Victory Maid, sublime.

      I have battled for fresh mammoth,
      I have warred for pastures new,
      I have listened to the whispers
      When the race trek instinct grew.

      I have known the call to battle
      In each changeless changing shape
      From the high souled voice of conscience
      To the beastly lust for rape.

      I have sinned and I have suffered,
      Played the hero and the knave;
      Fought for belly, shame, or country,
      And for each have found a grave.

      I cannot name my battles
      For the visions are not clear,
      Yet, I see the twisted faces
      And I feel the rending spear.

      Perhaps I stabbed our Savior
      In His sacred helpless side.
      Yet, I’ve called His name in blessing
      When in after times I died.

      In the dimness of the shadows
      Where we hairy heathens warred,
      I can taste in thought the lifeblood;
      We used teeth before the sword.

      While in later clearer vision
      I can sense the coppery sweat,
      Feel the pikes grow wet and slippery
      When our Phalanx, Cyrus met.

      Hear the rattle of the harness
      Where the Persian darts bounced clear,
      See their chariots wheel in panic
      From the Hoplite’s leveled spear.

      See the goal grow monthly longer,
      Reaching for the walls of Tyre.
      Hear the crash of tons of granite,
      Smell the quenchless eastern fire.

      Still more clearly as a Roman,
      Can I see the Legion close,
      As our third rank moved in forward
      And the short sword found our foes.

      Once again I feel the anguish
      Of that blistering treeless plain
      When the Parthian showered death bolts,
      And our discipline was in vain.

      I remember all the suffering
      Of those arrows in my neck.
      Yet, I stabbed a grinning savage
      As I died upon my back.

      Once again I smell the heat sparks
      When my Flemish plate gave way
      And the lance ripped through my entrails
      As on Crecy’s field I lay.

      In the windless, blinding stillness
      Of the glittering tropic sea
      I can see the bubbles rising
      Where we set the captives free.

      Midst the spume of half a tempest
      I have heard the bulwarks go
      When the crashing, point blank round shot
      Sent destruction to our foe.

      I have fought with gun and cutlass
      On the red and slippery deck
      With all Hell aflame within me
      And a rope around my neck.

      And still later as a General
      Have I galloped with Murat
      When we laughed at death and numbers
      Trusting in the Emperor’s Star.

      Till at last our star faded,
      And we shouted to our doom
      Where the sunken road of Ohein
      Closed us in its quivering gloom.

      So but now with Tanks a’clatter
      Have I waddled on the foe
      Belching death at twenty paces,
      By the star shell’s ghastly glow.

      So as through a glass, and darkly
      The age long strife I see
      Where I fought in many guises,
      Many names, but always me.

      And I see not in my blindness
      What the objects were I wrought,
      But as God rules o’er our bickerings
      It was through His will I fought.

      So forever in the future,
      Shall I battle as of yore,
      Dying to be born a fighter,
      But to die again, once more.

  9. James Sale

    An incredible poem, Evan, and certainly the best yet you’ve ever done. Technically, it’s full of interesting things (nice to reference ABB!!!) but over and above that it is the thematic issues that soar and dominate. I love the lines: ‘The waters never rising from their fall—/The Waterloo that wrecks Napoleon.’ I don’t quite have your levels of enthusiasm for Trump, and don’t quite see the parallel histories in quite the same way. As Dante put Alexander the Great in hell, I think I’d put Napoleon there myself beside him in the river of blood – Trump, on the other hand, there was no war during his tenure, which is an extraordinary achievement and one I laud. That said, this is an amazing work – well done. Following ABB – perhaps, terza rima next?

    • ABB

      I’d also point out that this stanza form shares affinities with that of Keats’s Odes (except that it is a truncated Shakespearean sonnet instead of a Petrarchan, plus the alexandrine), which is appropriate since it is ode-like in its elevated, acclamatory tone. Adds yet another level of technical interest.

    • Evan Mantyk

      Thank you, James. That’s an interesting angle on it and raises questions about responsibility. Alexander commanded military troops who killed, and so did Trump as Commander-in-Chief… but then, as far as I know, Trump never directly killed anyone, while Alexander almost certainly did, including his own loyal soldier Cleitus, who saved his life.

      Terza rima… I’ll have to give it a try!

  10. Monika Cooper

    Magnificent. You take your Trumpian precedents from chapters of history very dim to my consciousness but you made them bright. January 6 did seem a great gathering of forces on both sides. I am still and forever proud of what the patriots did that day: by not supplying the riot the enemy hoped for! Patton’s poem is fascinating too. Once you’ve faced death a few hundred times I guess you wouldn’t scare too easily.

    You probably know of General Washington’s vision and the great light he saw in prophecy that is to gloriously conclude the third and greatest crisis of the Republic. I thought of it again at your poem’s equally mysterious conclusion.

  11. Hari Hyde

    Thanks for this powerful and courageous poem. You’ve pegged our foes perfectly: “A force bent on destroying human nature” and their grisly track record “That fills one hundred million tear-stained tombs.” The poem also affirms our faith in a righteous force “…who holds / Within his one hand all that’s holy, hallowed / And heavenly.” My favorite lines – “Who lifetime after lifetime slips from sight / Into the misty future from the past?”

  12. Cheryl Corey

    From your conceptualization and execution, this is truly a ‘tour-de-force’.

  13. Shaun C. Duncan

    This is a wonderfully odd choice of subject matter and I must admit I couldn’t imagine how you were going to approach it before I started reading, but it works remarkably well thanks to some ingenious structural devices and a keen sense of history which, as we all know, is written in rhyme. The closing stanza is magnificent.

  14. Margaret Coats

    Evan, this sequence of poems stretches my interpretive abilities too far to make a judgment of it in just three days. You help by what you’ve revealed in comment replies, but thereby you complicate the work further. Clearly, reincarnations of a spirit now seen in Donald Trump is fundamental, but from what has been said, Patton is equally fundamental. I appreciate your reproducing his poem. One quality as yet unmentioned about the four men of history is their affability, which you reveal in varied ways according to the individual personalities. This connects them to the people they lead as well as to comrades in arms. Each of the four odes is a weighty work in itself, and then there is the appropriately incomplete one for the Emperor of Light. I suppose he is a figure to arise in China, probably with a folk and cultural background not known to me. Or he may represent a sage not yet fully or widely understood. This is an ambitious undertaking, especially as Hannibal and Napoleon are not quite acceptable heroes from the points of view of the Romans and the English. That surely likens them to Trump, who can perplex a broad spectrum of persons not hostile to him, but not enthusiastic either despite support for his aims. This is worth much more thought, but let me register my great appreciation before I finish thinking!

    • Monika Cooper

      Wonderful insights here, Margaret. I noticed (but did not comment on) that virtue of “affability” Evan highlights in all four figures. Clemency is another related virtue, surprising and wonderful and totally essential to their effectiveness as portrayed here. I also love what you say later about Trump’s propensity to perplex people, across the spectrum. It’s true!

    • Evan Mantyk

      Thank you for your insightful comments, Margaret. The ending is meant to be open to different interpretations, including the possibility that this last scene, part V, which is not dated, could have occurred in every lifetime. I could elaborate on all of this, but maybe better to leave it a mystery. Principally, it is meant to be a good story.


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