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~ By Courtesy of Others ~


Last Stand of the Guard

There stood the Varangians; the sons of Yngvi-Frey.
Warriors of the North; Saxons, Danes, Russians and Slavs.
Shoulder to shoulder they guard Miklagard's ancient walls,
Arms brandished, iron-hearted, intent to win the day.

Sailing straight before them with ladders ready to scale,
A force of Venetian crusaders; Latin soldiers.
The Guardsmen before them stand as still as large boulders;
Trusted to hold these walls, they have no intent to fail.

And quickly, the ships draw nigh and the tall ladders rise.
The Latins climb for the sky as they press with vigour,
Though this fight shall prove much tougher than they all figure
If they intend Constantinople to be their prize.

The first assailants reach the top, those unlucky few;
As the Northmen hew, hack and chop, Latins are milled meat.
One after another climb and fall beneath Norse feet.
Will their morale crumble? Shall this be a day they rue?

Hours pass like minutes, and soon Guardsmen's arms tire,
Though the foe relentless; Alas, too great in number....
But the Guard shan't quit its post; their cries crack like thunder,
And they meet their enemies like mad men on fire.

The Norse commander, head and shoulders above the rest,
Stands like a solid oak amidst thunderstorm's fury.
His right eye injured from a random battle flurry
Impedes him none as he fights onward with merry jest.

The great clang of blade's edge meeting cracking maille armour
Sorrowfully sings to the Norse commander's demise.
The deafening rumble of his last battle-roar flies
Into the evening air as his men fight with honour.

The battle now becomes for their commander's body;
Their position overrun, flooded with Latin foes,
The Guardsmen gather their leader's corpse in their last throes
To evade its desecration from fiends so haughty.

All through the night is the shrill pierce of Crusader steel
As the Latin army pours into the great city.
Their senseless debauchery arouses such pity
That all that can be heard are the weeping widows' squeals.

But, there on the walls lay the bodies of men loyal,
Who fought with all their might and honourably perished
Defending the metropolis that they so cherished,
Bearing the heraldry of the Byzantine royals.

 Justin Douglas Blackford

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