Canto 35: Rising Tensions

We are made wiser by the age

Erasmus


 

Hakenkruz

As little boys listen to their mothers
With dewdrop eyes, an Austrian sat down
Above his home, “Quite unlike the others,”
Schoolmasters said, as now, far from the town,
Mind-implings soar,
Flame-licking phantasie,
What momentary awe, when on the monast’ry

Rose Benedictine coat of arms,
O salient swastika!
Draping an artist in its charms,
Such enigmatic aura…
Alarum wildfires thro’ the farms,
“Alois needs a doctor!”
His son runs home… stunn’d & numb from crying,
Adolf Hitler watch’d his father’s dying.

The haemorrage was flowing fast,
The doctors did no good,
Breathing its last a body cast
Its soul to fiery flood,
The daddy of a daemon-child besotted by fresh blood.

Linz
1903


 

Morrocan Stand-Off

Global tensions engulf another land,
Where xanthomelians live & recline,
Swathe of Mohammed mystery & sand,
More victims of imperial design;
Both France & Spain
Intend to share her spoils,
While starved of cooling rain Europa’s fever boils;

The Second Reich has realised
Berlin now holds the balance,
Whose Kaiser comes, cruel face disguis’d,
& carries the scales to France,
Where all the Moorish ports are prized
For all their elegance –
“Stoical & certain the world must know
Will the world go to war for Morrocco?”

At loggerheads the powers meet,
Til out of this discord
Men sign a treaty to defeat
The bloodshed & the sword,
But peace is barely breathing neath a damoclean sword!

Algeciras
March 31st
1905


 

The Eastern Question

The Tsarist empire, driven asunder
By feverish revolutionaries,
Now faces a new, vibrant challenger,
Whose Dragonstorms & sweet Seacanaries
Project their gaze
Oer Manchurian skies,
Caught in the Asian maze how national angers rise!

Moscow issues the Baltic fleet,
Protects her Pacific base,
But into this total defeat
Her unknowing captains race,
At Tsushima two empires meet
Where one left in disgrace,
Siberian steel sinking to sea-bed,
An ocean rippling with the Russian dead.

The silver moon spreads thro the sea
As fossils do a stone,
Man’s star-charts see golden glory
As with a yellow yawn,
Over an oriental dark the first flush rose of dawn.

Port Arthur
June 1st
1905


 

Entente Cordiale

With all the varied vestments of her fame,
In splendid isolation London stands
Spectator of the continental game,
A global empire in her gentle hands;
The French envoy
Driven from Waterloo,
For Whitehall to enjoy high-level interview.

“Our problem here is Germany…
Her imperial intent
Could win her the hegemony
Over our old continent,
Threatening our stability,
This course we must prevent!
If war must come then Paris is prepared!”
Sentiment Britain’s delegation shared.

One hundred years have pass’d away
Since Nelson’s grand demise,
When every way that left Calais
Was thick with tricks & spies,
But in the face of danger ancyent emnity allies!

Whitehall
August
1905


 

Battle Plans

“The Great Powers have guaranteed their pacts
With pledges of mutual assurance,
Why should we wait their concerted attacks,
I have a plan to beat the alliance;”
Von Schlieffen spits
Intrigueing his Kaiser,
“My second Austerlitz murders France & Russia!”

“Go on,” said Wilhelm, “Sire, I feel
The method of victory,
One massive, military wheel
Thro Belgic neutrality,
Executed with speed & zeal,
Cut Paris from the sea,
& with French arms extinguish’d by the blow
We shall turn all of our strength on Moscow.”

The Kasier nods, “We must grow strong,
The struggle surely near!”
A marching song, for right or wrong
The white doves disappear,
As Prussian milit’rism strides into a higher gear

Potsdam
September
1905


 

Dreadnaught

The Scramble for Africa completed,
The Kaiser-Reich bedeck’d with meagre spoil,
A sense of a destiny, deep-seated,
Sets her expansive ambitions aboil;
Proud German steel
Must sculpt a High Seas Fleet,
What grand designs revealed with British might to meet?

Admirals fill the Baltic seas
With maritime manouveres,
“If they grow then by same degrees
Must we improve our forces!”
First Sea Lord, Churchill, this agrees,
“Like Prince Rupert’s horses
We must ensure the kudos remains ours
To strike great fear into foreign powers!”

Rivalry slowly turns to hate
(The hate that turns to war),
“Well, we want eight & we won’t wait!”
The fisher-English roar,
Their seat exalted challeng’d yon the ocean’s salty shore.

Portsmouth
1910


 

Death of Innocence

A century of blood-stench drags the breeze,
Annals of Empire quiver to a close
Like some rogue priest bent double with disease,
Still quaking from those cataclysmic throes;
One hundred years
My tempers train shall delve,
Thro’ all the blood & tears… Nineteen Hundred & Twelve.

The Kasier calls a konferenz,
Large maps besprawling table,
“As Russia, with the funds of France,
Shall soon become full stable,
I wish the borders to advance
As prompt as is able –
Dark clouds have gather’d yon the Vistula,
It must be war… & sooner the better.”

Faint rumbles on a stormy night,
Harsh whispers in the trees,
As grainy light illumes the fight,
INNOCENCE slumps on knees,
Her hump-back’d murderer administ’ring the final squeeze.

Europe
1912


 

Hitler

Elfin painter took leave of Vienna,
Fair jewel of the dual monarchy,
By officers branded, ‘Herr Deserter’,
Rejected by the Arts Academie;
Some quarter-Jew
Pluck’d from obscurity,
Enslaved by the milieu’s intrigues of destiny.

Dawn lit the surging Salzburg heights,
An Alp in his stout heart grew,
His memories of bitter sleights
Cleans’d by Bavarian dew,
Upon the winds young mountain kites
In eagle fashion flew…
“So fate has brought me here to Germany!”
Thought swept upon the wing & flutter’d free.

From wooded lake, to street agleam,
Here seem’d a blither Rome,
As beggars dream to taste ice-cream
He deem’d this place his home,
Where pure-blood Aryans & the anti-semitic roam.

Munich
1913


 

Cup Final

There is a whiff of warfare in the air,
When men die for another & his name,
No better thing, then, for the King to share,
The hurley-burley of his native game,
& takes his seat
Benign above it all,
Not for Holtzian suite, but players & a ball.

“Look son, look, bloody ‘ell, it’s king!”
Went Paddy to his Charlie,
The ball is floated from the wing,
Bert Freeman scores for Burnley,
Whoes lads & lasses gladly sing
For their hard-fought trophy –
The FA Cup is going to Turf Moor –
No safer place to rest throughout the war.

The King receives a great respect,
For milling with the crowd,
Medal-bedeck’d, the day perfect,
The Clarets pump out loud,
With roaring lungs, “God Save the King!” predicative & proud.

Crystal Palace
May
1914

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