The moon was a ghostly galleon!

Highwayman

 
    The Highwayman; by Alfred Noyes
 

                                        PART ONE

                                                 I

    THE wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
    The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
    The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
    And the highwayman came riding—
                      Riding—riding—
    The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

                                                 II

    He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
    A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
    They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
    And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
                      His pistol butts a-twinkle,
    His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

                                                 III

    Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
    And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
    He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
    But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
                      Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
    Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

                                                 IV

    And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
    Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
    His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,
    But he loved the landlord’s daughter,
                      The landlord’s red-lipped daughter,
    Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

                                                 V

    “One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
    But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
    Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
    Then look for me by moonlight,
                      Watch for me by moonlight,
    I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

                                                 VI

    He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
    But she loosened her hair i’ the casement! His face burnt like a brand
    As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
    And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
                      (Oh, sweet, black waves in the moonlight!)
    Then he tugged at his rein in the moonliglt, and galloped away to the West.

 

                                        PART TWO

                                                 I

    He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
    And out o’ the tawny sunset, before the rise o’ the moon,
    When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,
    A red-coat troop came marching—
                      Marching—marching—
    King George’s men came matching, up to the old inn-door.

                                                 II

    They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
    But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
    Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!
    There was death at every window;
                      And hell at one dark window;
    For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

                                                 III

    They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest;
    They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
    “Now, keep good watch!” and they kissed her.
                      She heard the dead man say—
    Look for me by moonlight;
                      Watch for me by moonlight;
    I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

                                                 IV

    She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!
    She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
    They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
    Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
                      Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
    The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

                                                 V

    The tip of one finger touched it; she strove no more for the rest!
    Up, she stood up to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast,
    She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
    For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
                      Blank and bare in the moonlight;
    And the blood of her veins in the moonlight throbbed to her love’s refrain .

                                                 VI

        Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
    Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
    Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
    The highwayman came riding,
                      Riding, riding!
    The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!

                                                 VII

    Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
    Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
    Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
    Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
                      Her musket shattered the moonlight,
    Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

                                                 VIII

    He turned; he spurred to the West; he did not know who stood
    Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own red blood!
    Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew grey to hear
    How Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
                      The landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
    Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

                                                 IX

    Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,
    With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
    Blood-red were his spurs i’ the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
    When they shot him down on the highway,
                      Down like a dog on the highway,
    And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

                                                      X

    And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
    When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
    When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
    A highwayman comes riding—
                      Riding—riding—
    A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

                                                 XI

    Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
    He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
    He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
    But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
                      Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
    Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

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Ancient Flamethrower

flamethrower

 

In 424 BC the Beotians produced a Flamethrower at the Battle of Delium.  The photo above is a scale model attempt at a reconstruction.  I think the ‘Cauldron’ needs a bit of work, but it captures the general notion.  Described as follows in the history by Thucydides it certainly proved effective on the day;

 

Meanwhile the Boeotians at once sent for darters and slingers from the
Malian Gulf, and with two thousand Corinthian heavy infantry who had
joined them after the battle, the Peloponnesian garrison which had
evacuated Nisaea, and some Megarians with them, marched against Delium,
and attacked the fort, and after divers efforts finally succeeded in
taking it by an engine of the following description. They sawed in two
and scooped out a great beam from end to end, and fitting it nicely
together again like a pipe, hung by chains a cauldron at one extremity,
with which communicated an iron tube projecting from the beam, which
was itself in great part plated with iron. This they brought up from
a distance upon carts to the part of the wall principally composed of
vines and timber, and when it was near, inserted huge bellows into their
end of the beam and blew with them. The blast passing closely confined
into the cauldron, which was filled with lighted coals, sulphur and
pitch, made a great blaze, and set fire to the wall, which soon became
untenable for its defenders, who left it and fled; and in this way the
fort was taken. Of the garrison some were killed and two hundred made
prisoners; most of the rest got on board their ships and returned home.

Thucydides, “The History of the Peloponnesian War”, Book 4, Chapter XIV.

 

The Fairies’ Siege; by Rudyard Kipling

I have been given my charge to keep–
Well have I kept the same!
Playing with strife for the most of my life,
But this is a different game.
I’ll not fight against swords unseen,
Or spears that I cannot view–
Hand him the keys of the place on your knees–
‘Tis the Dreamer whose dreams come true!

Ask him his terms and accept them at once.
Quick, ere we anger him, go!
Never before have I flinched from the guns,
But this is a different show.
I’ll not fight with the Herald of God
(I know what his Master can do!)
Open the gate, he must enter in state,
‘Tis the Dreamer whose dreams come true!

I’d not give way for an Emperor,
I’d hold my road for a King–
To the Triple Crown I would not bow down–
But this is a different thing.
I’ll not fight with the Powers of Air,
Sentry, pass him through!
Drawbridge let fall, ’tis the Lord of us all,
The Dreamer whose dreams come true!

 

Marching out to war

mars

When the Greco-Roman God of War rides to battle he carries with him in his chariot his two sons and his lover/sister.  His sons (the moons of the planet Mars) are Phobos and Deimos (Fear and Terror) and his sister/lover is Enyo (Discord).

The Greeks did not love Ares.  They, who valued mental discipline, saw him as an embodiment of the madness aroused by the passions of battle.  Something to be avoided in favour of good planning and strategy.

 

Life on Mars; by David Bowie

It’s a God-awful small affair
to the girl with the mousy hair
but her mummy is yelling no
and her daddy has told her to go

But her friend is nowhere to be seen
now she walks through her sunken dream
to the seat with the clearest view
and she’s hooked to the silver screen

But the film is a saddening bore
for she’s lived it ten times or more
she could spit in the eyes of fools
as they ask her to focus on

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
oh man look at those cavemen go
it’s the freakiest show

Take a look at the lawman
beating up the wrong guy
oh man wonder if he’ll ever know
he’s in the best selling show

Is there life on Mars?

It’s on America’s tortured brow
that Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow
now the workers have struck for fame
‘Cause Lennon’s on sale again

See the mice in their million hordes
from Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads
rule Britannia is out of bounds
to my mother, my dog, and clowns

But the film is a saddening bore
‘Cause I wrote it ten times or more
it’s about to be writ again
as I ask you to focus on

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
oh man look at those cavemen go
it’s the freakiest show

Take a look at the lawman
beating up the wrong guy
oh man wonder if he’ll ever know
he’s in the best selling show

Is there life on Mars?