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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 rides through the night time cooled Sierra,

Beneath the chaste peaks of Andalusia;

Past El Dorado by every measure,

He hopes 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 scales the glittering Moorish pile,

And then gains sights of her courts of myrtle,

Her fountains that shine like deep-sea pearl.

 

“Victor!” His bright cavaliers all cheer

As Don Alfonso and his brother near,

“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 exclaims. “But see here your prize”

His cavalier says, as the knight meets 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 laughs and raves

As the Moor is carried off a new slave.

Next he strides through the rich palace halls

Where scriptured reliefs appear on the walls:

 

But on those walls appear 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 a curiosity so furtive:

“What mean all these Saracen riddles,

These cryptic fonts and Moorish symbols?”

 

His captive points to scriptured reliefs

About the walls, which seemed to whisper

And reads: “God is the only Victor,”

As all eyes towards the moon now flicker.

 

He heads on 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

Breathes through the halls and crescent moon beams

Flood his quarters in pure white streams.

 

Sleeping in the luxury of a king,

He hears a chiming, a scimitar that seems to sing

As it floats 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 is nowhere seen,

But he see’s his brother who stands at his door,

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

 

His brother says nothing; as he walks over

The sound of a scimitar singing takes over:

His haughty ambition this knight had failed

To quell, the glories of war never curtailed.

 

Thus his dear brother now claims his fame

As the crescent moon began to wane,

And as darkness consumes each quarter

So his brother whispers, “only God is victor.”

 

 

September 2017

 

 

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

 

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