The Marching Empire

A marching empire quite unknown to the mountains that they conquered,
They buried themselves in gods
Whose judgments put to the sword their own country.

No room for another wound in Alexander.
Not another prayer that Hercules could answer.
Thirteen years forgotten, the returning legions halted
And died in sight of Macedone.

The divinity they ferried down the Indus,
His last wound bleeding away the life
That his captains towed from the shore,
As mythical as Hercules
Appearing in sight of those who worshipped him;
And the regal flag still flew when his labour slept.

No spectacle and tambour so almighty.
And beyond the thinkable,
In my own beleaguered
And dismembered country.

*TV documentaries are re-writing the stories of the classical world.  In a review of Alexander the Great and his Macedonian Empire, new scholarship proposes that Alexander got within striking distance of the Ganges, but turned back because Hercules did.