Our Conquering Swords
Our conquering swords shall marshall us the way
We use to march upon the slaughter'd foe,
Trampling their bowels with our horses' hoofs,
Brave horses bred on the white Tartarian hills.
My camp is like to Julius Caesar's host,
That never fought but had the victory;
Nor in Pharsalia was there such hot war
As these, my followers, willingly would have.
Legions of spirits, fleeting in the air,
Direct our bullets and our weapons' points,
And make your strokes to wound the senseless light;
And when she sees our bloody colours spread,
Then Victory begins to take her flight,
Resting herself upon my milk-white tent--
But come, my lords, to weapons let us fall;
The field is ours, the Turk, his wife, and all.
I guess the cursing of whoever invented war didn't take. This particular poem could be quite the rousing speech, if someone like Aragorn wanted to use it. Imagine if this was a movie - perhaps the opening scene - and the narrator is saying all these lines, and there's a awesome montage of this war going on (maybe even in slow motion for line ten, as the bullets glide through the air), wouldn't that simply be epic?
The awesomeness of this poem, the sort of mythic quality of it that's perfect for a Edward Zwick film, that's a very big reason why this is my favorite poem. All too often, a poem will be lenghty, with a lot being said, but there's no real emotion to it, nothing that resonates with me minutes - let alone a hour - after I've finished reading it. Not so much true for 'Our Conquering Swords'. As a little sidenote, when I was 12, the USA Network aired their own original horror movie Halloween day; titled Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula, it starred Rudolph Martin ("24") as Vlad the Impaler, and even with a micro made-for-TV movie budget, it looked marvelous, and it felt epic. As I read this poem, I couldn't possibly compare this to anything other than a narration of Vlad Dracula's mind as he enters combat.
Imagery is splendid here. "Legions of spirits, fleeting in the air" - the spirits of the dying soldiers? And then the following line: "direct our bullets and our weapons' points" leads to some beautiful, artistic imagery that I could argue falls under symbolism. A simile is used once, "my camp is like Julius Casear's host".
Simply put, this is simply a beautiful, short poem that invokes such powerful emotions and imagery, it's just one of those that resonates with you long after reading it. If I ever make a movie that's very war-ish, or write a book in the same vain, I'm totally using this as the opener.