• David Gosselin

The Jewels of Andalusia - The Spanish Knight


Wa le ghalib il Allah (God is the only victor)

-Muhamed Ibn-l-Ahmar, founder of the Alhambra Palace

He rides across the star-engulfed Sierra,

Along the peaks of Andalusia;

Beyond El Dorado by every measure,

He hopes to find Andalusian treasure.

The monarchs of Granada have all fled,

The prayers of infidels to God’s ears dead;

Those Moorish halls once built with alchemy

Will never again rule in infamy.

Climbing Granada’s dark crag and defile,

He enters the glittering Moorish pile,

Then finds himself inside her myrtle courts,

Which shimmer like eternal Godly ports.

“Victor!” Cheer all his noble cavaliers

As Don Alfonso and his brother nears.

“Show me the jewels of Andalusia,

Its luscious gardens fed by Arethusa!

“Show me around this sumptuous palace friends,

And tell me how the Moors all met their ends!”

The Don with joy exclaims. “But see your prize,”

His cavalier says, as the knight meets the eyes

Of Ben Seraj, the fabled Moor, enchained.

“Now what have you to say impious bane?

Fair Granada yields to the Christian scepter!”

But the Moor replies, “Only God is victor.”

“Ha!” The proud cavaliers regale and rave

As the brave Moor is carried off a slave.

The Don then strides across the palace halls

Where scriptured reliefs appear on the walls:

But on the walls there appears no image,

No symbols or reliefs with holy visage,

Only swimming in the moonlit cornice,

A divine calligraphy begins to surface.

Demanding an explanation from his captive,

He asks with curiosity so furtive:

“What mean all these Saracen riddles,

These cryptic fonts and Moorish symbols?”

His captive turns towards the bold reliefs

That hang about the walls and seem to whisper.

He reads, “God is the only victor,”

As all the burning stars above flicker.

Alfonso heads towards the royal chambers,

Disbanding his royal exhorters,

Exalting in the joy of victory,

And sporting the seal of his empery.

To dream of future victories he goes

As salted air from seas, and citron groves,

Wafts in the palace halls, while pallid beams

From crescent moons descend in pure white streams.

Now sleeping in the luxury of kings,

He hears a chiming, a scimitar sings,

As if swaying about the midnight air—

Perhaps a soldier patrolling his lair.

The monarchs of Granada have all fled,

Saracen’s prayers are to God’s ears dead;

Those Moorish halls once built with alchemy

Will never again rule in infamy.

Thus waking to find it was all a dream,

The treacherous Moor is nowhere seen,

He sees his brother who stands at the door,

“Brother you’ve come, but did hear you the Moor?”

His brother remains mute; as he walks over

The sound of singing scimitars takes over:

His brother’s bold ambition the knight failed

To quell, the glories of war never curtailed.

His noble brother now reclaims his fame,

Just as the crescent moon begins to wane.

And as the darkness consumes each quarter

His brother whispers, “Only God is victor.”

September 2017

David Gosselin is a translator, poet and linguist based in Montreal.

#OriginalPoetry #TheJewelsofAndalusia #DavidBGosselin