Once you were my enemy sworn,
Back in those times when they gave me this name,
And I strode the continents without fear of any living thing
And more than a few that were not.
For all believed that I had forsworn love
And given myself over to baleful pursuits
That made the wisest among them
unable to hold my gaze.
And in those days filled with battles,
And with the metal ringing of swords and axes;
When naught but victory against your hordes
Filled my mind like lover’s lust,
I was content.
Aye, content to have my every thought
Absorbed as blood is absorbed by the coarse sand,
And to know without any faintest reservation
That on the morrow it would be the same.
And so you and I spent a thousand turnings of the seasons.
Ever throwing your minions against my defenses;
Ever met with cleverer stratagems and brutal forces.
Each engagement a refinement of my purpose.
And we raged upon the world, the very perfection of war.
For every lunge a riposte; for every ruse a counter-ruse.
And my days and nights were filled with a dark joy
That made my lieutenants quiet, grim and determined.
And then you stopped.
And there was no enemy to fight.
I howled my rage and shook my sword at the sky,
And swore to my own gods that I would find you, treacherous coward.
My agents swept the heights and depths of the world,
But you had vanished. You were no more, they said.
The people came slowly from their many hidden places,
And as they came to see the battlefields were empty
And the smithies cold without the need to replenish weapons,
Their own rapturous joy swelled into a great celebration.
I did not attend.
For I am the War Leader, and I have forsaken love,
And the continents where once I strode,
Fearing nothing living or unliving,
Sounded now of song, and no longer of the cries of desperate men.
Even as they sang my name and drank wine in my honor,
And looked with hope to their children,
I looked upon this world, and without rancor,
Knew that I had lost.
June 2, 2011, Los Angeles