Complaint of Byzantium: A Forgotten Civilization on our Doorstep

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The west has forgotten us,

We shielded it when it was young,

The west has betrayed us,

We gave it the songs they sung,

Echoing through marble halls,

The sound of harpers’ thrum,

Written on the vast mosaics,

We were Byzantium.

 

Lost now the noble heritage,

We were the sons of Rome,

The students of Helena,

The head of Christendom.

In us the far flung cross roads,

North, South, East and West

Met and to us travelers,

Combined and gave their best.

 

From Rome comes our power,

The armies clad in steel,

The tactics and the legions,

Our noble roman zeal.

Belisarius led them on,

With sword and bow and lance,

Barbarian hoards they dispersed,

Merely with a glance.

 

The walls around the city,

We built to know no peer,

To throw back all our foes.

From year to countless year,

They shield our ancient Polis.

And within, Justinian’s dome,

Soared like an angel’s golden wings,

The Church of Holy Wisdom.

 

When the storm arose,

From beyond the desert sand,

Muhammad’s followers attacked,

Before them all men ran.

Even we were overcome,

Until they reached the wall,

Then came our turn to see,

The Muslims fail and fall.

 

We settled down as neighbors,

In both serenity and strife,

We learned to keep the balance,

Of a brittle love-hate life.

But Europe, what were you doing?

You were in ages Dark,

You owe to us that foreign hands,

Left no deep cut mark.

 

Yet you turned on us,

The cursed fourth Crusade,

You stormed the walls from the sea,

And put our people to the blade.

A schism cracked between us,

Barbarians we saw when we gazed,

Westward from whence came the blow,

That left us weak and dazed.

 

When we faced our final hour,

Bravely Constantine the bold,

Fought to save his people,

His city worn and old,

But you didn’t help us,

You left us there to die,

As we breathed our last breath,

We asked our brothers why?

 

After all we were and did,

What we built and gave,

Ought we to be remembered,

At least repaint our grave?

Because not many seem to know,

Who we Byzantines once were,

But your own history could not be,

If Byzantium was not there.

  

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