The bitter chill of a cold spring in 1453,
A city old and angular juts out into the sea.
The waters grey and narrow, flow calmly thought the mist,
The Bosporus where Europe and Asia almost kissed.
Mute and tall, ringing round in three imposing rows,
The Theodosian walls have long withstood the blows,
That fell upon them harsh and hard, a thousand years they stood,
From Attila to the Ottomans, defeat them no one could.
Once again, the Turkic tribes have raised the banner high,
Janissaries holding guns, ready now to die.
Two hundred thousand is their army, three hundred is their fleet,
In the city but eight thousand men the foe must rise and meet,
In fiery battle repeatedly the Byzantines don’t fall,
But the Turkish mighty cannons lay waist the old stonewall.
The sultan smiled eagerly, Mehmet young and spry,
Cunning planner with a grin as men charge off to die.
Beleaguered, old, within the fort, what’s left of his great Polis,
Constantine, the emperor, Palaiologus,
Leads the brave resistance, in the thickest of the fray,
Taking seconds between blows to look up and pray.
“Will I save my city? Oh, God make it so!
And if I die protecting it, please accept my soul!”
Two months the battle raged and waned, then up and raged again,
Two months the Greeks refused the Turks the slightest passage in.
Then at last the Turkish men, by valor great and keen,
Such bravery ‘fore or since, is seldom to be seen.
Broke the lines, the city fell, and Constantine did give,
A final cry, “The city lost, but I, the King, still live!”
He threw off purple raiment, just armor and his blade,
He bore as he charged in, looking to be slayed.
And slain he was, not recognized, and buried with his men,
The emperor, the last of Rome, the last first citizen.