Thursday, 26 September 2013


The Holy War

Then lend thine ear to what I do relate
Touching the town of Mansoul and her state:
How she was lost, took captive, made a slave;
And how against him set, that should here save,
Yea, how by hostile ways she did oppose
Her Lord, and with his enemy did close.
For they are true: he that will them deny
Must needs the best or records vilify.
For my part, I myself was in the town
Both when ‘twas set up, and when pulling down.

I saw Diabolus in his possession
And Mansoul also under his oppression.
Yea, I was there when she own’d him for lord,
And to him did submit with one accord.
When Mansoul trampled upon things divine,
And wallowed in filth as doth a swine;
When she betook herself unto her arms,
Fought her Emmanuel, despised his charms;
Then I was there, and did rejoice to see
Diabolus and Mansoul so agree.

Let no men, then, count me a fable-maker
Nor make my name or credit a partaker
Of their derision: what is here in view,
Of mine own knowledge, I dare say is true.

I saw Prince’s armed men come down
By troops, by thousands, to besiege the town;
I saw the captains, heard the trumpets sound,
And how his forces covered all the ground.
Yea, how they set themselves in battle-‘ray,
I shall remember to my dying day.

I saw the colors waving in the wind,
And they within to mischief how combined
To ruin Mansoul, and to make away
Her primium mobile without delay.

I saw the mounts cast up against the town,
And how the slings were placed to beat ears it down;
I heard the stones fly whizzing by mine ears,
(What longer kept in mind than got in fears?)
I heard them fall, and saw what work they made,
And how old Mors did cover with his shade
The face of Mansoul; and I heard her cry,
“Woe worth the day, in dying I shall die!”

I saw the battering-rams, and how they play’d
To beat open Ear-gate; and I was afraid
Not only Ear-gate, but the very town
Would by those battering-rams be beaten down.

I saw the fights, and heard the captains shout,
And in each battle saw who faced about:
I saw who wounded were, and who was slain;
And who, when dead, would come to life again.

I heard the cries of those that wounded were,
(While others fought like men bereft of fear,)
And while the cry, “Kill, kill,” was in mine ears,
The gutters ran, not so with blood as tears.

Indeed, the captains did not always fight,
But then they would molest us day and night;
Their cry, “Up, fall on, let us take the town,”
Kept us from sleeping, or from lying down.

I was there when the gates were broken ope,
And saw how Mansoul then was stripp’d of hope;
I saw the captains march into town
How there they fought, and did their foes cut down.

I heard the prince bid Boanerges go
Up to the castle, and there seize his foe;
And saw him and his fellow bring him down
In chains of great contempt quite through the town

I saw Emmanuel, when he possess’d
His town of Mansoul; and how greatly blest
A town his gallant town of Mansoul was
When she received his pardon, loved his laws.

When the Diabolonians were caught
When tried, and when to execution brought,
Then I was there; yea, I was standing by
When Mansoul did the rebels crucify.

I also saw Mansoul clad all in white,
And heard her Prince call her his heart’s delight.
I saw him put upon her chains of gold,
And rings, and bracelets, goodly to behold.

What shall I say? I heard the people’s cries,
And saw the Prince wipe tears from Mansoul’s eyes.
I heard the groans, and saw the joy of many:
Tell you of all, I neither will, nor can I.
But by what here I say, you well may see
That Mansoul’s matchless wars no fables be.

-From The Holy War (1682) by John Bunyan  Published by Moody Press  Chicago, IL 1948.

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