Guest Poem: “Upon Trojan Field, At Dawn” by Ismail Butera

Attic Black-figure Amphora attributed to the Tyrrhenian Group, ca. 560-550 BCE. Source: copyright Yale University Art Gallery, via Dartmouth.edu

Upon Trojan Field, At Dawn – This heart-stopping poem by Ismail Butera communicates like a warrior bard on a treasure hunt while sifting through the remains of battle-bloodied corpses.

“On the Earth as it is in the Cosmos” – a line that will give you goosebumps – is only one of the many evocative lines that will catch your breath in your throat as you float in the dawning air above the littered battlefield of Troy.

Echoes of Antiquity

Ismail Butera, a “teller of ancient epic and spiritual tales,” is also an entertainer and musician of celestial and ancient world sounds. Butera and Natalie Perlaza form the band, “Echoes of Antiquity,” in which Ismail plays such cool instruments as the accordion and long-necked lutes of Turkish, Albanian, and Ukbek origin, while Natalie plays drums, dumbek, and other Persian and Egyptian percussion instruments.

(Screenshot) Ismail Butera and Natalie Perlaza via EchoesofAntiquity.net

(Screenshot) Ismail Butera and Natalie Perlaza via EchoesofAntiquity.net

On their website, EchoesofAntiquity.net, Butera notes, “Relying on the traditional modal systems and rhythmic cycles found in the musical schools of various world cultures, our interest lies in those folk traditions that are deeply rooted in the distant past.”

In addition to this beautiful and fascinating music, Ismail and Natalie also perform poetic recitations accompanied by costumed actors and actresses who interpret the visions through dance and bring the narrations to life. Pyrrhus and the Golden Table of Zeus, as well as the Odes of Pindar, are included among the wonderful recordings offered on their website.

Coming across Ismail’s poem, Upon Trojan Field, At Dawn on his Facebook page, I feel like I have found a long-lost brother. I feel we have much in common, including our love of ancient epics, diverse spiritual nourishment, and haunting world music.  As Ismail says on his website, “humans long to remember that which has made us what we are today, and that which informs and guides us as we go forth into the world of tomorrow. These tales reveal our true, inner history, the very building blocks and foundations of our society. ” I couldn’t agree more!

A warm and accepting new friend, Ismail has graciously given me permission to repost his poem here.  It is both my pleasure and a great honor to share his excellent poetry, music, and spiritual insights with you all. Enjoy!

Attic Black-figure Amphora attributed to the Tyrrhenian Group, ca. 560-550 BCE. Source: copyright Yale University Art Gallery, via Dartmouth.edu

Attic Black-figure Amphora attributed to the Tyrrhenian Group, ca. 560-550 BCE. Source: copyright Yale University Art Gallery via Dartmouth.edu.

Upon Trojan Field, At Dawn

               By Ismail Butera
(Originally published on Facebook)

As the Sun rises, casting a shadow across the land
As light emanates from the sleep of night
Dispersing evil and doubt that is caught up in darkness
A lone rooster crows, announcing visitations by the emissaries of heaven
They who inspect the plain along the Troad
There, that bloodied and contested field where heroes fought and died
While vultures circle above…the scurrying rabbit is safe today!
For there is flesh abundant to partake of, heaps of the slain
From yesterday’s fierce battle
Many a champion has fallen, many songs are yet to be sung
By the bards who, with eyewitness accounts
Compose the lines and verses that will live on
To be forever etched in the memory of Mankind
There, to guide future generations
And teach the young virtue and the pursuit of excellence
To teach that fear is naught but doubt and insecurity
That bravery is a manifestation of subjection to nothing but divine will
What is it to live and die with none to chant thy song?
But to squander food and sustenance, like a squirrel or a rat
Bogging down before the arrival of Winter?
Gathering nuts and morsels for fear of want
No, humanity is meant for more than that
For it is they, beings of flesh and blood
The gods have chosen to play their parts
As actors in the cosmic theater, manifesting their every desire
On the Earth as it is in the Cosmos
The knowledge humans benefit are blessings from Olympus
The contract dictates they must perform their role well
And heed the commands of the deities upon that height
Writers of the script, authors of Man’s destiny
And so allow fate to evolve

Yesterday ‘twas fate unravelled for those gazing upon the mighty conflict
The denizens of Troy, desperate for victory
From the encampment of the Myrmidons
Those too old or sick to commit their arms to the fray
Fate was unravelled for the ranks of warriors
Who did rush into battle clad in glorious armor of bronze and golden helmet
Armed with sword, javelin and shield
The clash of weapons yielding a symphony of death
As the ranks of Greeks, Trojans, Aethiopians and Amazons
Crashed upon one another, each warrior endowed with
The vision of a great victory in their minds and hearts
But who would it be to survive and achieve that victory?
The thousands now lying upon the field immobile and still
A testament to the sacrifice of the day before
Would not speak of their experience…
For it was they who were butchered for the glory of the gods
For the glory of their kings and queens
For the glory of their own design, the ego within their hearts
Prone they lay, upon the grass, as vultures partake of their flesh
Brave they stood and brave they fought, so bravely they died
Attaining immortality, yesterday, upon that field at Troy

Silent save for the wind, crying a plaintive melody of melancholy and sadness
Sunbeams glimmering upon the plain
The wheat stalks gently waver, as if in imitation of the day before
Of the ranks of warriors who pushed hard as one, to claim the day
Mighty steeds pulled along the war chariots
Crushing those who hapless, stood in their path
An overturned wagon lay on it’s side, it’s driver and horse
In eternal sleep doth they slumber, forever dreaming
A lone wheel of that vehicle turns slowly
Nay it is not the wind, but rather prodded on
By some ghost searching for it’s lost life
Still unaware that death had claimed it with the lightening flash of a sword

The eerie silence is the aftermath, the finale to the overture
That was all too loud and brash just a day ago
How many mornings like this have broken, ten years hence
Since this great war began?
How many brave heroes have themselves been broken?
Their strength tested against terrible odds
Contributing their deeds to inspire the verses of bards?
While the emissaries of the god Ares would suggest acts of daring and courage
The gentle Muses could but cry as they gazed
At the armored ranks who charged fearlessly
Only to be cut down in their prime
There upon that field at Troy

Nothing was advantaged, nothing was gained
Save a victory for Chairon, who carries souls across the river of eternity
The last battle, the final test
before the day when trickery would mighty Troy fall at last
And fate would reveal itself one last time
There on that silent field, in the lonely dawn, at Troy

Of this the bards tell their tale, of this they sing of glory
There upon that field of Troy…
In the light of the golden dawn

 

The Combat of Diomedes by Jacques-Louis David, 1776. Source: CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Combat of Diomedes by Jacques-Louis David, 1776. Source: CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

 


Hold that breathless, bittersweet emotion and carry it into this amazing video – this brilliant animation ultimately evokes the same mood as Ismail’s Upon Trojan Field, At Dawn:

 

 

2 thoughts on “Guest Poem: “Upon Trojan Field, At Dawn” by Ismail Butera

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