“The king who unlocks this chamber
will be the last of the Gothic kings of Spain.”
Now, down, as ash keys twirl,
and helicopter from a leaden sky,
now down by the spiral stair high
down from the secret chamber
in Toledo’s highest topmost tower,
bewildering the air, swirls
Don Roderick. In this hour
all his proud hopes unfurl;
not love, not greatness or power,
but only these words of death
for you to catch your breath
against. Now, down from the room
of bleak wonders and disastrous visions
and time’s long refrain,
down comes the last
of the Gothic kings of Spain.
With Don Roderick their glories end.
In the autumn the battles will take him
to them his fathers windblown and wasted,
betrayed, blotched and
cankered with prophecy;
yet he is also silk-russeted and golden-leaved
as if his cloak were all the seasons of a thousand years,
spread from the spirals of Toledo’s stairs
and laid across the plain.
All this was told in that tower,
and how, friendless and deserted
by cowards on the battlefield,
his last hour would come.
Calmly, down, he follows his exquisite wife.
Descending from the vision of
his end instead of finding treasure,
his courage is a kind of glory;
while as blossom scattering
on an April morning, Egilona is
beauty spiralling in her own light.
Down the elm-staired way she passes,
her negligent fragrance
dusting the ancient stone.
“He shall do battle with the Moors,
Spanish leather and steel brave against
the bright streamers of coloured silks
and finest white linen of the Arabs.
I shall always love Don Roderick!
And must I love the man
who will come after: Abd all-Aziz ibn Musa?
Who shall know which will
rule the best and love me most?”
Don Roderick turns his elm-boarded
way from the high tower.
Soon he will sleep through the ages
in a humble mountain grave,
and on the lintel we will read
the letters that will crumble
in the mist and sun of years to come:
“Hic requiescat Rodericus,
But for now he smiles at Egilona
down from the magic chamber
along the flower-light turning way.
They will come who will say
he is more legend than man;
but under star-strewn nights
by fountains in the palace gardens,
and in exotic chambers at the end of day,
I hear the fair lady dreaming,
her thoughts a song that lingers
in the valleys and over mountains:
“He is a man and my heart is music
and my love a dance,
and at least for now
this is he,
aqui esta y aqui se acuesta Don Roderic,
último de los reyes góticos de España,
yes, this is he,
and here for now he lies
down not in a crumbling grave
but here, he lies down with me.”
JACM September 2017 – February 2018
 Here is and here lies (beds) Don Roderick/last of the Gothic kings of Spain