Dance of the Zalongos

They awoke to the sound of screams,
Despairing wails and wretched moans
Their city, once beautiful, was being reduced
To crushed pebbles and crumbling stones

The onslaught was unstoppable
The enemy numbered too great
The men fought valiant and strong
But which man can overpower fate?

The walls soon tottered and fell
Rubble and dust reigned supreme
The end of the battle drew nigh
The streets with corpses teemed

The men knew the end they faced
They’d fight on until they perished
The women too were of one mind
For above all, their pride they cherished

For it is the fate of every war
That when a victor arises
The defeated men die fighting
And the women are claimed as prizes

A hardened race these women were
Unused to a life of leisure
Their pride would not see them turned
Into a mere source of pleasure

They marched resolute, stony-faced
Straight onwards to the cliff’s edge
They marched silent, unwavering
Taking strength from their unspoken pledge

Each woman led from in front
While her children followed close behind
Till every family in the land of Zalongo
Up against the cliff’s edge was lined

Suddenly up amongst them arose
A chant of great depth and fervor
A woman grasped her child’s small hand
And the firstborn was thrown over

They pitched, they swayed,
In stormy cavalcade
And the chanting only did grow
The mother’s eyes wild
She followed her child
Into the watery depths below

The singing still grew
As each mother threw
Her child to meet its doom
With great song and laughter
She followed right after
Still humming the deathly tune

The marauders stood silent
Awestruck watched the tyrant
As six hundred took their own lives
The army was victorious
Their victory was glorious
But none remained to be claimed as their prize

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