Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
 
III. War
The School of War
Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)
 
From “Tamburlaine”

  TAMBURLAINE.—But now, my boys, leave off and list to me,
That mean to teach you rudiments of war:
I ’ll have you learn to sleep upon the ground,
March in your armor through watery fens,
Sustain the scorching heat and freezing cold,        5
Hunger and thirst, right adjuncts of the war,
And after this to scale a castle wall,
Besiege a fort, to undermine a town,
And make whole cities caper in the air.
Then next the way to fortify your men:        10
In champion grounds, what figure serves you best,
For which the quinque-angle form is meet,
Because the corners there may fall more flat
Whereas the fort may fittest be assailed,
And sharpest where the assault is desperate.        15
The ditches must be deep; the counterscarps
Narrow and steep; the walls made high and broad;
The bulwarks and the rampires large and strong,
With cavalieros and thick counterforts,
And room within to lodge six thousand men.        20
It must have privy ditches, countermines,
And secret issuings to defend the ditch;
It must have high argins and covered ways,
To keep the bulwark fronts from battery,
And parapets to hide the musketers;        25
Casemates to place the great artillery;
And store of ordnance, that from every flank
May scour the outward curtains of the fort,
Dismount the cannon of the adverse part,
Murder the foe, and save the walls from breach.        30
When this is learned for service on the land,
By plain and easy demonstration
I ’ll teach you how to make the water mount,
That you may dry-foot march through lakes and pools,
Deep rivers, havens, creeks, and little seas,        35
And make a fortress in the raging waves,
Fenced with the concave of monstrous rock,
Invincible by nature of the place.
When this is done then are ye soldiers,
And worthy sons of Tamburlaine the Great.        40
  CALYPHAS.—My lord, but this is dangerous to be done:
We may be slain or wounded ere we learn.
  TAMBURLAINE.—Villain! Art thou the son of Tamburlaine,
And fear’st to die, or with a curtle-axe
To hew thy flesh, and make a gaping wound?        45
Hast thou beheld a peal of ordnance strike
A ring of pikes, mingled with shot and horse,
Whose shattered limbs, being tossed as high as Heaven,
Hang in the air as thick as sunny motes,
And canst thou, coward, stand in fear of death?        50
Hast thou not seen my horsemen charge the foe,
Shot through the arms, cut overthwart the hands,
Dyeing their lances with their streaming blood,
And yet at night carouse within my tent,
Filling their empty veins with airy wine,        55
That, being concocted, turns to crimson blood,—
And wilt thou shun the field for fear of wounds?
View me, thy father, that hath conquered kings,
And with his horse marched round about the earth
Quite void of scars and clear from any wound,        60
That by the wars lost not a drop of blood,—
And see him lance his flesh to teach you all.  (He cuts his arm.)
A wound is nothing, be it ne’er so deep;
Blood is the god of war’s rich livery.
Now look I like a soldier, and this wound        65
As great a grace and majesty to me,
As if a chain of gold, enamellèd,
Enchased with diamonds, sapphires, rubies,
And fairest pearl of wealthy India,
Were mounted here under a canopy,        70
And I sate down clothed with a massy robe,
That late adorned the Afric potentate,
Whom I brought bound unto Damascus’ walls.
Come, boys, and with your fingers search my wound,
And in my blood wash all your hands at once,        75
While I sit smiling to behold the sight.
Now, my boys, what think ye of a wound?
  CALYPHAS.—I know not what I should think of it; methinks it is a pitiful sight.
  CELEBINUS.—’T is nothing: give me a wound, father.
  AMYRAS.—And me another, my lord.        80
  TAMBURLAINE.—Come, sirrah, give me your arm.
  CELEBINUS.—Here, father, cut it bravely, as you did your own.
  TAMBURLAINE.—It shall suffice thou darest abide a wound:
My boy, thou shalt not lose a drop of blood
Before we meet the army of the Turk;        85
But then run desperate through the thickest throngs,
Dreadless of blows, of bloody wounds, and death;
And let the burning of Larissa-walls,
My speech of war, and this my wound you see,
Teach you, my boys, to bear courageous minds,        90
Fit for the followers of great Tamburlaine!
 
 
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