The Rise and Fall of the British Empire – an Epic Poem


And through the mist they saw her
And through the mist they saw her.
With ambition, entitlement and stealth she advanced.
Unannounced, unexpected and unwarranted.
The morning dew that clung in fear to grasses,
had no option but to be the first to capitulate.
As it soaked her legs and hide on this once revered majestic beast.
Sinuid muscles tensed and flickered, whilst the exhalation blast, sent birds scattering.
She surveyed the veld and all it held and owned.
Through the mist her outline was now seen.
Intuition of fear ignited by her presence and her plan.
With all things large and exaggerated it’s the small parts that matter.
From the Ox-peckers duty on land, to the Ramoras role at sea.
The symbiosis of two opposites, in occasional mutual harmony, content in commonality of aims.
Power and peace, ying and yang, black and white the strive no yield.
Savannahs easily conquered, high ground to low.
Her severity, and raw unrefined rigour never ebbed.
Out of boredom or comfort or naivety,
oblivious and arrogant and untested to lessons in history.
Lessons of fallen giants and slain beasts, by the smallest of wisps.
The underdog, down-trodden and forgotten.
So she turned, and turned she did on all that kept her on track, fed and clean!
The goring, slashing and severing of limbs did not abate as sunset fell upon sunset.
Reckless decapitation of souls complimented the crushing of cultures, previously thrown together in false cohesion.
But you see the small ones always learn,
They listened and watched, for decades. The wiser younger sibling.
Their education for survival, honed.
The lessons, perpetual and with rocks and sticks and poison, learnt.
A combined mutiny was launched.
Spear tips hit their mark as
bones shattered, flesh opened.
Flesh opened as if a hundred flowers instantaneously bloomed, which ignited the bees and they did swarm.
This beast, ejected and dejected and crest-fallen,
she retreated back to her rock, stopping every few minutes. Stopping to look back, apoplectic in her confusion.
Across the bridge that spanned the moat, she limped.
To the foundation of safety.
To its bastion of delusion.
A delusion that it had never been enough for her.
And when she returned it was more beautiful than she had imagined.
Protected, unspoiled in its solitude and lushness and inner peace.
She sat looking at the setting of the sun once again, her tail flicking in anger as she licked her wounds.
Light beams bouncing off the water.
A rippled reflection of the bridge danced a mocking tale.
She then recalled what she had told all that she had conquered.
Spoke to all about her land and its majestic beauty, its superior synergy.
Its lush fields and abundance of food and energy.
And as she stared at the horizon, the landscape, it lost its structure.
Her eyes squinted she saw a mass appearing.
All she had hurt had followed her.
Followed her back to her home, as they too wanted to share this land.
As she sat there, her brain churning,
if only she had seen the benefits.
The beauty in all beasts, their forms and colour and shapes and sounds.
But she stood up, muscles in spasm and flexing once again.
In a rage and fits, with saliva spewing from her teeth and nostrils,
her claws smashed and thrashed at that bridge.
Soon it was gone, and she slumped back down and watched.
Watched the drift wood float away with unnatural yaw and pitch, as parts of her flesh clung to splinters as if to escape what was to come.
With her calm restored and red mist once again diluted, she sat on her haunches at the bank and stared.
Stared at all who had now arrived to cross.
As she quivered and grimaced she noticed.
Noticed that these samphires-of-servitude looked beyond her.
And as she turned to face her land, the taste of iron in her mouth increased as she tasted her own blood.
She saw a thousand beasts that used to look and sound like her,
but now looked and sounded like these displaced creatures.  Her mouth slowly fell open and her acrid scarlet life ran from her mouth and stained her khaki coat.
They stood with heads bowed and tails between their legs, so the tips touched their nauseous stomachs.
The sky, it darkened around her, and all colour once bleached, started to run.
Skies unleashed a myriad of water-colour, and soaked her head, ran down her nose onto her paws and into her cuts. Her claws ached like her heart.
Her memories and thoughts attacked her body and mind, and as she grew weak and gaunt and febrile she could not make eye contact.
So she lay there now too weak to stand. Ashamed of her journey, of her chapter of some of her story.
Her kin and land folk now abandoned, stepped over her.
Gently and with no malice or hatred, but staring in awe at the size of her.
And there she died.
The last of life flickered in her left eye,
as she lay on her right.
The images that hit her retina
were not that of blood and pain,
but of a raft, a pontoon.
A moving and expanding pontoon.
As the largest of beasts from both sides,
they met in the middle and gently touched foreheads.
As they slowly and lovingly connected.
Wildebeest stood head to head with Elephant, breathing slowly in unison.
They looked deep into each other’s eyes, these shared souls connected by confusion and loss and peace and love.
All of the smaller creatures crawled up the legs and tails and larger beasts.
They crossed the water walking over their backs and heads, horn and trunk.
This new pasture and land was fresh and filled with quiet, such quiet.
After all had crossed they surrounded her.
With sadness for her, and with respect for the last of her thoughts, she was lifted.
Two mighty beasts carried her to the centre of the land.
Tusked Rhino scraped at the ground in slow rhythm.
By sunrise a chasm was crafted, and with care and love she was buried.
Birds returned with seeds from a thousand plants from far off lands.
The Primates, they planted these where she lay.
And so ended the empire and reign of this lioness.
Despite her lust for power and some good she’d mustered and damage inflicted, her positive legacy was immeasurable.
In antithesis to her quest, cultures found cohesion, that had spent a millenia apart.
She brought all that were scattered, together.
The weak regained self-belief, and
she gave strength to those who had none.
Her heinous bleaching now ceased,
nature’s palette saw colour on canvas restored.
2019 Copyright Pedro Bat Poet