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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the HISTORICAL genre (05/03/07)

TITLE: Forbear!
By Stephanie Bullard


The sights I saw were different here,
The sounds and smells were odd,
Not like the ones that I had known from home,
But this was Rome.
And being led by God,
I felt not but a twinge of fear.

The voice had called me, small and still,
“I want you in this place,
The task I have for you I won’t reveal,
But you will feel,
When it is time, My grace,
Will grant you strength to do My will.”

A crowd of people filed by,
I thought to join their line,
I didn’t know to where their path would flow,
But I would go,
So I could ease my mind,
With knowledge of what caught their eye.

The crowd led to a ring of stone,
That jutted toward the sky,
With strength and power etched in every block,
Of craggy rock.
Though many wandered by,
I’d never felt quite so alone.

I sat upon a wooden bench,
And stared down at the floor,
Where two men faced each other, bloody swords,
Replacing words,
The desperate eyes, the gore,
Their helpless plight made my heart wrench.

I could not simply sit and stare,
As deep within I died,
I blindly stood and stumbled down the steps,
Between them leapt,
And desperately I cried,
The only word I could: “Forbear!”

The warriors gasped at the air,
Stood bloody and apart.
I first addressed them with my voice aloud,
And then the crowd,
With tremors in my heart,
And voice: “In God’s great name, forbear!”

I saw their angry, hate-filled glares,
I could not grasp their rage,
But now I knew exactly what God meant,
Why I was sent,
My name was on this page,
My task was now; I’d not forbear!


I can’t say quite what happened, then…
I was in the ring a-fighting,
With the other guy’s sword biting,
Leaving gashes on my legs,
When, like a locust from a plague,
This little man came flying in.

Me and my rival just stood there,
A-gaping at this crazy sight,
A little man, with eyes alight,
With some strange fire I’d never seen,
With features flushed, and yet serene,
He shouted out one word: “Forbear!”

Who knew one word would cause such strife?
I’ll not forget what happened then,
O’er powered by those angry men,
They caught him and his hands they tied,
They stoned him there, and there he died,
That little man who saved my life.

For nevermore would man stand there,
The Coliseum games would end,
No more would beasts be set on men,
No more for entertainment's sake,
Would men fight men and their lives take.
For one man’s strength to say “Forbear!”


*In historical tradition, St. Telemachus was drawn to Rome by an inner calling. There, he witnessed the atrocity of the Coliseum gladiator games, and, desperate to end the horrific episode, entered the arena shouting “Forbear!” The crowd, angry at his interruption of their fun, stoned him to death. News of this event, however, was enough to cause Emperor Honorius to put an end to the gladiator games.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Christine Dunn05/12/07
Very interesting to learn about.

I visited the Colosseum (watch spelling!) last year and found the history of the grand marble building fascinating.