Lanea on Jun 18th 2018

Word came from the far-kin of locusts on two feet
Claiming grassland and forest, mountain-height and low bog
Our far-seers warned that their townlands would flourish
Their settlements bloating like overfed hogs.


Their first journey was ill met by sea water and wind
Crushing ships on the south sounds, strewing beaches with gore.
But their Caesar returned seeking spear-friends of Brennus
Calling Cassivellaunus to account for Gaul’s wars.


The grim Cantevellauni paid that red debt for Britain
Brave sons of the Belgae led scores to their dooms,
But we knew they’d return. We were raised on the warnings
The grandmothers sang out as they sat at their looms.


Their prattling peacock Claudius led them
Back to our homeland, hungry for gold,
And we women urged slaughter, begged our men to rebel
Lest we soon know the bondage our Grandmothers foretold.


“Forbearance” they answered, praising prospect for trade.
Merchants leading our warriors to swap freedom for truce.
Discarding justice and pride they knelt before enemies
Submitting family and pride to the conquerors’ abuse.


For two decades we bore it, we who had conquered all foes
Suffered lands and herds stolen, daughters raped and enslaved.
Saw our tribe sons conscripted to fight enemies’ wars
To satisfy the empire of the inbred depraved.


When they came to disarm us we knew war’s tide was high
So we held fast our weapons and awaited its crest.
Word of Mona’s defeat crushed Prasutagus’s will
And his shame choked his throat, stopped his heart in his breast.


Full half his wealth was promised to Nero as tribute
But that jealous king claimed all Iceni land forfeit.
Boudicca, widow queen, asserted her blood claim
Over tribe’s gold and pasture, said her offer was surfeit.


“Inheritance falls to the spear, not the spindle”
Was the gloating reply Rome’s procurator gave
But his legion stole more, ravaged Boudicca’s daughters
Shamed our tribe and our sex, beat our queen like a slave.


So we rose like the red sun burning rank fog from our land
Trinovante and Iceni reaping skulls with our blades
We women won vengeance, joined our war queen in battle
Drove the strangers before us, delivered Bodb her prey.


Camulaudunum’s statue of Victory fell
As their prophets foretold blooms of blood in the tide.
We swept in like a firestorm, scorching all in our rampage,
Burned the houses and temples and the foes strapped inside.


The legion defeated, the procurator fled.
We fell on Londinium avenging our shame
And our queen rode before us, between two red-tressed daughters,
Proved the truth of her strength, matched the portent of her name.


Boudicca, Victory, Andrasta’s sickle
Cast a frenzy upon us with her war cry that day
And the hare she loosed promised swift death to her war band,
Not the halter and gibber we had worn as Rome’s slaves.


Now we await the advance of Suetonious Paulinus,
Desecrator of Mona, governor of failed state.
Two legions march with him and we face them undaunted.
Commit our lives to Andrasta and welcome our fate.

© 2004 Amy Ripton

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