Ajax pulling at the threads of war, by George Wallace




I was like the others, I was just a man among men, I listened at the little temple, I felt the snake lick at my ear, there were generals to follow and battle lines to be formed, and the sky above us furious and the rage set in, the full gospel trim of it

And it was very simple to be standing before the walls of a city waiting on orders, as foretold in prophecy, re-affirmed with prayer, the smoke of a thousand sacrifices to guide us, and we merged as one against the enemy bowmen on the parapets

We, cavalry mounted; we, stripped naked to the saddle; we ‘in the line of fire sweated and gleaming in the moment’ and the months of discipline, wheeling and turning in the dust of the parade ground, the mouth of the drill sergeant stinking in our ears, put to final good use

And there were battlements to be felled, and a single blow from the arms of a soldier could do it, a single decisive thrust of the sword could do it, and topknots flailing in our terrible eyes, men among men, troops urged on by the gods

And I was that man racing for the top rung, siege ladder secure at my heel, man of war, war, unnecessary war, thirsting for red blood shed in the bonebreaking black of night, glory blinding us, bleak doom of death approaching from the rear

And then the swift trampling down, the torn bodies of young dying soldiers, death flowering all around us


Ramp and walls of Troy. Image via Wikimedia Commons.