o magnum mysterium

let us sing now of the light
come down to men,
of the dawning in the spirit
like the world made new again,
let us sing now of the morning
that dawning comes,
golden, holy,
the sun of god born again
from the lean cloud
of a young girls belly.
let us breathe deep
the incense and jasmine
of prayer, of high heaven,
and fill our hearts
with the fair physic of cheer,
let his perfect love banish all fear,
in readiness for the trials to come.

now’s the time, now’s the time,
now we ride!
out down the lanes with our hale hearts dancing,
horses straining, steaming, prancing,
hammering out into the frost-smitten air,
the iron-forged morning torn from its lair,
nows the time, nows the time,
to take the fight to the infidel thieves
to take our leave of our ordinary lives,
our weeping wives,
bonded by the spirit and brotherhood
and the washing of blood holy and unholy,
down from the hills with pounding blood,
poured out on the land like a wrathful flood,
down from the ship of the shining nave
among the windtorn oaks and toppling graves,
from the sheltering hills and running rills,
out in our hearts ready, already
for the sea
and the sea-cradled ships
and the vision
before us,
always before us,
of the flag of the lamb
and heavens pure dam,
the sheer shining bride,
heavens own pride,
in the black arms
of heathen night.


white crested cliffs, royal ramparts rising,
the horses in the holds crying for release
from this alien fold rolling and rising
to starboard and lea,
calling out so piteously to their fellows
and the unseen seas,
but they will obey,
their wildness shall be reigned in,
like mine was,
the wild nature mighty that roars
for release in us all,
and calls us out for destruction
from the malaise of the soul.
they shall carry us, templars all,
it is their purpose, as god has forsawn
that jerusalem the fallen
shall be taken again
by the blood and the swords
of good christian men.
god willing.


and the single sweetness
of gods solid ground!
the air is soft and warm to breathe
and we all say we taste
it laden deep with victory,
our caverned halls vaulted and ringing,
bedecked with our banners
and the sound of singing
of christian knights
called to the war,
gainst this vile and villeinous
satanic horde.
here in the candle cave,
the secret light beneath
the dusty scorch
of the fallen world
incense in prayer
and victory
is everywhere,
for he has
overcome the world.


mary, i must tell you,
i will tell you when i see you
of a dream that to me
this night has come,
that as sleep enclosed my eyes
within the depths of
deaths gentle counterfeit,
a dream of the devil
(or of my own troubled,
toiling soul i know not which)
came upon me:
that i was on the field of carnage
before the holy city fair
and friend and foe
lay bloodied, all around,
when some slain sarcen knight
near death
(i watched its shadows as they fell)
seemed to cast me with a spell,
for he was prone and helpless
and i master of his fate,
my sword raised above me
his heathen soul to take,
yet was i captured by him,
by this fallen son of wrath
and by some found pity sought
to see his sorry foreign face
before i sent him down
to meet his mo’ammet lord in hell.
but mary, mary i swear
upon all that to me is holy,
that as with my foot i turned him,
and from his mail disinterred him,
i saw looking back at me
a vision that i cannot quite dispel,
for none did i see but the calm,
quiet face of the lord christ himself
who there full-vanquished lay,
gazing at me with such great pity
and forgiveness and love,
and mary, i fell to my knees
and awoke in weeping,
mary this dream has me
very much dismayed…


holy city,
blessed bride,
how long have you awaited
the bridegrooms call?
how long have you longed
to see his light at last appear
beneath your midnight door?
when first i saw you
i’m not ashamed to say i cried.
wept like a woman
torrents of tears at your beauty
within this ugly world,
like a white illumined cloud
over the dirty desert plane.
the ever-feuding moor
holds you holy too,
took ibrahim for abraham,
ishmael for isaac,
and with a little holy Heresy
is their false conviction


our faithful ships sad bare bones
lie disconsolate, stript,
accusing us where no men weep,
but pull apart their wooden ribs,
pluck out their oaken empty hearts
on this wide, sun-white,
brilliant burning shore.
skilled hands take the strong
sea-scarred limbs,
shipwrights toil
with hammer, plane and saw,
and something towering make,
soon land and air and fire to be
that was only ever rolling sea,
and high our hopes go with it,
this great-striding babeltower,
this battle belfry come
to climb us,
jacob-like into jerusalem,
our very heaven.


sacrificium vespertinum

heavens eye, bruised and bloody,
falls upon the purple plane,
and wounded day now
surrenders to advancing night
as the live and living
must yield at last
to death and dying.
the great gate of the holy city
we, the enemy has opened wide,
and we, in deadly darkness enter.
our horses, soft-shod slip
like shadows silently
through the sleeping streets,
while watchmen, throats cut,
in bloody reveries of sinning
with their thousand
celestial concubines.
all around in darkened steel
good men enter the
labrynth of life inside,
and seeking out life,
zealously send it
to where sad shadows reside.
but here inside
the holy heart,
the axis mundi,
the bloody, beating centre
of this fallen, sorry world,
something like a shadow
upon me falls,
sheathes my sword,
quietly unmans me,
and i, grown faint,
can find no appetite for fight,
for all this god’sblood letting
from christian and from moor,
and even with my own
best brothers
toiling all around me
in all the arcane,
obscene obsequies of war.
i know that i will
no more fight,
i will,
fight, no more.
so quietly, so quietly,
unseen i now withdraw,
from the clash and clangour
and all the pious butchery zeal
of this too unholy war,
‘til in my mind
some way removed,
among a silven grove
of silver olives wild,
i see a figure weeping white,
gathering soldier,
father, motherless child
with open arms,
while on a hill high beyond,
old adam digs his grave
at the place of the skull.


One thought on “ jerusalem

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