The Jewels of Andalusia - The Spanish Knight

September 27, 2017

 

 

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

 

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

 

He rode through the night time cooled Sierra,

Beneath the chaste peaks of Andalusia;

Past El Dorado by every measure,

He hoped to find Andalusian treasure.

 

For the kings of Granada are all now fled,

The prayers of infidels to God’s ears dead;

Those glittering halls once built with alchemy

Will never again rule in their infamy.

 

Climbing Granada’s steep and defile,

He scaled the glittering Moorish pile,

And then gained sight of her courts of myrtle,

Her fountains that shone like deep-sea pearl.

 

“Victor!” His bright cavaliers all cheered

As Don Alfonso and his brother neared.

“Don’t withhold the jewels of Andalusia,

Its sweet gardens fed by fair Arethusa!

 

“Take us to this sumptuous palace friends,

Tell me how the Moors all met their ends!”

The Don with joy exclaimed. “But see here your prize”

His cavalier said, as the knight met the eyes

 

Of the fabled Moor, Ben Seraj, in heavy chain

And sighing: “What have you to say you wicked bane?

I am victor and Spain under Christian scepter!”

But the Moor replied: “Only God is victor.”

 

Ha! The ambitious knight laughed and raved

As the Moor was carried off a new slave.

Next he strode through the rich palace halls

Where scriptured reliefs appeared on the walls:

 

But on those walls appeared no image,

No symbols or reliefs with holy visage,

Only swimming in the moonlit cornice

A divine calligraphy began to surface.

 

Demanding an explanation from his captive,

He asked with a curiosity so furtive:

“What mean all these Saracen riddles,

These cryptic fonts and Moorish symbols?”

 

His captive turned to the scriptured reliefs

About the walls, which seemed to whisper

And read: “God is the only Victor,”

As all eyes towards the moon now flickered.

 

He headed to his new royal quarters,

Disbanding his royal exhorters,

Exalting in the glories of his victory,

And sporting the seal of his empery.

 

To dream of future triumphs he goes

As the icy breath of citron groves

Breathed through the halls and crescent moon beams

Filled his quarters in pure white streams.

 

Sleeping in the luxury of a king,

He heard a chiming, a scimitar that seemed to sing

As it swayed through the cool-midnight air -

Perhaps a soldier guarding his lair.

 

For the kings of Granada are all now fled,

The Saracen’s prayers to God’s ears dead,

Those Moorish halls once built with alchemy

Will never again will rule in infamy.

 

Thus waking to find it was all a dream,

The treacherous Moor was nowhere seen,

But he saw his brother who stood at the door,

“Oh brother you’ve come, but heard you the Moor?”

 

His brother said nothing; as he walked over

The sound of a scimitar singing took over:

His haughty ambition this knight had failed

To quell, the glories of war never curtailed.

 

Thus his dear brother now claimed his fame

As the crescent moon began to wane,

And as darkness consumed each quarter

So his brother whispered, “Only God is victor.”

 

 

September 2017

 

 

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

 

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