Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Hail to the, great Castilian Don!
Whose valor like bright silver shone!
Whose name struck terror! and whose sword
spread death among the Moorish horde!
Hail, mighty Cid! Whose bold intent
made thee in life pre-eminent,
and (as my numbers now recount)
even in death still paramount!

The strangest victory ever read
The Cid achieved when he was dead-
For, in a city hard beset,
Being sick to death, but living yet,
Unto a friend he gave his last
Commands; and when his life had passed
The Spanish followers of the Cid,
Even as he had ordered, did.

Out of his bed they took his corpse;
They set it upright on his horse;
They fastened well the saddle, where
It sat with stern and martial air;
About his sword they closed his hand;
His banner, by the breezes fanned,
They raised aloft; and by his side
Five hundred living knights did ride.

And when, from out the city gate,
upon his horse, erect and straight,
With trumpet blast and rolling drum,
The Cid, embalmed in death did come,
At sight of him, in armor dressed,
the Moors in all directions fled,
Unwitting that the Cid was dead.

With panting breath and rolling eyes
They raised to heaven frenzied cries
Of 'Allah! Allah! all is vain!
The Cid is on us once again!'
And falling back on every side,
Some gazing on him open-eyed,
While some their sight in terror hid,
'The Cid!' they cried, 'the Cid! the Cid!'

So, cold and stiff and void of breath,
Triumphant on his day of death,
With clang of hoofs and clash of steel,
The Cid was carried to Castille,
And close beside an altar there
They set him on a ivory chair,
Where pilgrims flocked to see his face
For long years staring into space.

from "Heroes and Heroines" by E & H Farjeon

His name is astonishing. It is a compound of two different titles and cultures. Rodrigo Díaz, the mercenary-general of Bivar, is one of the few Christian heroes to be known by a Muslim title. Al-sidi is from the arabic word "sayyid" which means sir and lord. El Campeador was a title from Spanish Christian admirers. It is similar to "champion" but greater. A campeador was a man who had fought and beaten the select fighting-man of the opposite side in the presence of the two armies. "El Cid Campeador". The Lord Champion.


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