Mars Day

3-mars-roman-god-of-war-photo-researchers

Play Holst’s Mars and recite the following from The Canturbury Tales.

Why should I not as well eke tell you all
The portraiture, that was upon the wall
Within the temple of mighty Mars the Red?
All painted was the wall in length and brede
Like to the estres of the grisly place
That hight the great temple of Mars in Thrace,
In thilke cold and frosty region,
There as Mars hath his sovereign mansion.
In which there dwelled neither man nor beast,
With knotty gnarry barren trees old
Of stubbes sharp and hideous to behold;
In which there ran a rumble and a sough,
As though a storm should bursten every bough:
And downward from an hill under a bent
There stood the temple of Mars Armipotent,
Wrought all of burnish’d steel, of which th’ entry
Was long and strait, and ghastly for to see.
And thereout came a rage and such a vise,
That it made all the gates for to rise.
The northern light in at the doore shone,
For window on the walle was there none
Through which men mighten any light discern.
The doors were all of adamant etern,
Y-clenched overthwart and ende-long
With iron tough, and, for to make it strong,
Every pillar the temple to sustain
Was tunne-great, of iron bright and sheen.
There saw I first the dark imagining
Of felony, and all the compassing;
The cruel ire, as red as any glede,
The picke-purse, and eke the pale dread;
The smiler with the knife under the cloak,
The shepen burning with the blacke smoke
The treason of the murd’ring in the bed,
The open war, with woundes all be-bled;
Conteke with bloody knife, and sharp menace.
All full of chirking was that sorry place.
The slayer of himself eke saw I there,
His hearte-blood had bathed all his hair:
The nail y-driven in the shode at night,
The colde death, with mouth gaping upright.
Amiddes of the temple sat Mischance,
With discomfort and sorry countenance;
Eke saw I Woodness laughing in his rage,
Armed Complaint, Outhees*, and fierce Outrage;
The carrain in the bush, with throat y-corve,
A thousand slain, and not of qualm y-storve;
The tyrant, with the prey by force y-reft;
The town destroy’d, that there was nothing left.
Yet saw I brent the shippes hoppesteres,
The hunter strangled with the wilde bears:
The sow freting the child right in the cradle;
The cook scalded, for all his longe ladle.
Nor was forgot, by th’infortune of Mart
The carter overridden with his cart; of war
Under the wheel full low he lay adown.
There were also of Mars’ division,
The armourer, the bowyer, and the smith,
That forgeth sharp swordes on his stith.
And all above depainted in a tower
Saw I Conquest, sitting in great honour,
With thilke sharpe sword over his head
Hanging by a subtle y-twined thread.
Painted the slaughter was of Julius,
Of cruel Nero, and Antonius:
Although at that time they were yet unborn,
Yet was their death depainted there beforn,
By menacing of Mars, right by figure,
So was it showed in that portraiture,
As is depainted in the stars above,
Who shall be slain, or elles dead for love.
Sufficeth one ensample in stories old,
I may not reckon them all, though I wo’ld.
The statue of Mars upon a carte stood
Armed, and looked grim as he were wood,
And over his head there shone two figures
Of starres, that be cleped in scriptures,
That one Puella, that other Rubeus.
This god of armes was arrayed thus:
A wolf there stood before him at his feet
With eyen red, and of a man he eat:
With subtle pencil painted was this story,
In redouting of Mars and of his glory.

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