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Hengist asks for men, A.D. 449
Hengist asks for men.
They'll rally from the sand that is big seas, from smoky huts,
thin lands, woods that hide wolves, where Evil is.
Farmhands will chuck the plow and fishers their nets.
Chuck women and children, because they are easy to come
Hengist the mercenary asks for men.
To subdue an island that will be England.
Cruel and bowing they'll come.
In the battle of men he was always first.
His debt of vengeance left unpaid they bared him a sword
which did its work.
Oars they'll dare the sea with, compassless, mastless.
Swords and bucklers on, boar helmets, spells for corn, vague
cosmogonies, Hun-and-Goth legends.
The earth is theirs, but not Rome, too primitive is their
Hengist asks for victory, plunder, flesh and oblivion.
Hengist asks (not knowing it) for the greatest empire,
Shakespeare and Whitman, Nelson's navy, Adam and Eve
on the run, hand in hand, from Paradise lost.
Hengist asks (never knowing) for me to write this.