Friday, February 15, 2008

The Destruction of Sennacherib

We're studying Mesopotamia right now, so for our poetry memory work, we're going to tackle this poem by Lord Byron:

The Destruction of Sennacherib
by George Gordon, Lord Byron

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he pass'd,
And the eyes of the sleepers wax'd deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there roll'd not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpets unblown.
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

Here's the down low on Sennacherib, Lord Byron, and the Assyrians.


  1. Wow. I just want to be able to pronounce the name of the poem! How long does it take your kids to memorize something like that?

  2. Oh a couple days, yo, you know? Hehehe. Just kidding.

    We start out just reading it every night -- I read it and he reads it, and then I read it leaving out words, and he does the same, testing me. He memorized Yeats' "The Stolen Child" this way, which seemed pretty incredible for me. He memorizes music easily too. One of the pluses of his eccentric mind. Sadie memorized the refrain of "The Stolen Child" only -- not sure what we're going to do with this one in terms of taking it to her level. It's pretty macabre.