Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Ancient Game / Alfred Gordon

The Ancient Game

The chess-board of the world is set for war:
The kings, that take, but may not taken be;
The queens, unprized in this hostility;
The fortress-castles in the corners four;
The cringing bishops, state-bound to the core;
The inglorious knights of trade and usury –
But at the front of this great panoply
The pawns are ranged to pay the sordid score.

By tortuous juggling, in the name of right,
The marshalled forces to the field are led;
But as they grapple in the sanguine fight,
The arch-intriguers' blood is never shed,
The pieces on the board stand, black and white –
The pawns lie scattered, black and white both red.

Alfred Gordon (1888-1959)
from In Prophecy, and Sonnets of the European war, 1914

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada and the United States]

Alfred Gordon biography

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