Saturday, December 17, 2005


It's a Maltese blog, the cut of whose jib I like.

But then I've been a fan of the Maltese ever since reading as a teenager Ernle Bradford's The Great Siege.

Malta is one of the oldest Christian nations on Earth - Christianity dating from St. Paul's shipwreck on the Island. Although under Arab rule for 200 years (the Maltese language is Arabic-influenced - for example, the old capital was Mdina, 'the city'), the excellently named Count Roger the Norman restored the old faith.

The Siege of 1565, when the Maltese under the leadership of the Knights of St John defeated the much larger Ottoman force of Soleyman the Magnificent, was one of the key moments in European history, as this, along with the siege of Vienna, marked the limit of Ottoman expansion into Europe.

(I like to think that Peter Briffa is related to Luqa Briffa, a member of the Maltese cavalry at the time of the Great Siege, mentioned as having shown exceptional skill as a horseman and inordinate bravery).

The Gurdjola site also links to the Gutenberg project, who have made available the complete poetry of Sir Thomas Moore.

Moore, most famous for romantic Irish poems like The Minstrel Boy, was an Orientalist. His long poem sequence Lalla Rookh contains a description of a religiously-motivated killer which seems relevant today to the Zarquawi school of head-chopping.

One of that saintly, murderous brood,
To carnage and the Koran given,
Who think thro' unbelievers' blood
Lies their directest path to heaven


Anonymous said...

Hi Laban,

thanks for the comment - we will certainly link to your great blog.

I too have been a fan of Bradford's book since when I was a nipper - used to read a chapter and then go and explore the sites described!

You are all welcome to pop over whenever you like



Khan Sahib said...

Blimey! My wife is called Lala Rukh (meaning rosy-cheeked or face of a poppy flower).

Had no idea she was in league with the head-choppers!

In fact she is always telling me how her family on her mothers side were Mughal nobility from Delhi....I think I'm going to have to go back and read some more Moore.

Laban said...

The poem describes Lalla's journey from Kashmir to Delhi to marry a prince. They are kept entertained by a young poet who reads to them at each halt.

Lalla becomes fond of the poet, who fortunately turns out to be th prince. Happy ever after ...