03 March 2013
Antique stamp from Tierra de los Sueños: Don Quixote discourses on war with artillery & gunpowder weapons / Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier / Siúil A Rún
Click on the antique stamp to enlarge.
Antique stamp from Tierra de los Sueños: Don Quixote discourses on war with artillery & gunpowder weapons.
If anyone wants Cervantes' original en español I will be happy to hunt it up.
The Chinese invented gunpowder, but its effective use in war weapons seems to have originated in northwest Saharan Africa. It was a big hit and spread like wildfire throughout Europe and Asia. You could knock down stone castles with these weapons, and you could stop the bravest, strongest, most heavily armored knight and make him dead in an instant.
I first encountered a form of this quote writ large in the hall of British cannons captured at the Battle of Saratoga (New York, then a British colony, but soon to become the USA -- in large part because of the rebel victory at Saratoga).
During the Revolutionary War -- but in many other wars involving English-speaking soldiers of the era -- THIS was the most popular song, everyone knew it, everyone sung it around camp fires, everyone, men and women, cried when they heard it, and kept crying for decades after the war ended, as some grew old, while others didn't. The song was a big hit again during the USA Civil War / War Between the States. It traces to an Irish original (British and American wars always relied heavily on Irish soldiers), and the song was first known as Siúil A Rún in Irish Gaelic.
Nothing has changed. We still have wars involving English-speaking soldiers, and wars drag lovers from one another's arms for years, or from one another's arms forever. Please feel free to cry as you listen.