Heavenly Father, in these days of ruin
Khaled al-Asaad shored the human spirit
From its demise, preserving works of merit
Lest ravages of time would have them strewn.
Lord, now not time, but rather deeds of men
Have seen the vanquishment of all his work,
A lifetime’s work, by madmen gone berserk
Destroying loveliness beyond their ken—
And yet not all. “I was Palmyra born”
Said he when he refused to flee, “and here
Travailed some eighty years: my home is dear,
And I will not depart, though life be shorn.”
So he believed in destiny—fulfilled
His in refusing to reveal the place
Where he had hid antiquities of grace
They wanted to destroy: his blood they spilled.
His captors hung him in the market square,
Decapitated body, head below,
The depths of their iniquity to show,
To broadcast fear, and let the world beware.
Yet, though the end was swift, a graceful life
Receives its value from within—no dole
Externally inflicted, blots the soul,
Though life be ta’en by executioner’s knife.
What kind of men are these, O heavenly Father,
That would obliterate all trace of peace
Seeking some booty, private store’s increase,
As in perverted faith some gains to gather.
Yet are these men not like industrialists
Who ruin the world, to gain a bit of profit?
Producing scum, but skimming value off it?
Leaving the destitute to slit their wrists.
What a malignant work is man. Dear Lord,
Yet let us strive for conservation, even
Though we must choose the swifter way to heaven
Defending love, and dying by the sword.