Radhanites, a lost people


Who has heard of the Radhanites

An ancient people

Who led where we must follow?

Probably Jewish, certainly Eastern,

Philosophers, wizards, and visionaries.

They traded, travelling

The four great routes:

Through Gaul past Prague

To the kingdom

Of the White Bulgars,

Who were magicians and alchemists;

By sea from Provence

To Egypt and so to India,

Meeting people who knew

What elsewhere was not known.

From Antioch to

Iraq, India, Sri Lanka,

And so East to where

Stars are fire;

And from Spain

Along the North African coast

To the Levant,

The home of mystery

And gardens of cures and poisons.

The Radhanites

Travelled and never stopped,

On, on, and on again

Why stop? What point in stopping?

By night they journeyed

By day they dreamed.

Their food was minimal

Their drink tasteless.

And all were men:

Men who read, talked,

Dreamed, wrote, and sang.

The women stayed home

In Provence, Spain, and Antioch

And kept secrets,

Secrets we have lost.

And what did they trade?

Spices, condiments.

Perfumes, jewels, drugs, silks,

Aphrodisiacs and slaves,

Slaves castrated in Flanders;

Castrated to make them

Hardworking, diligent, and wise,

And undisturbed

By passion and dreams.

The Radhanites traded too

False recipes for immortality.

The recipes sold well

And no customer was dissatisfied.

The Radhanites disappeared

As all men have disappeared

And will disappear.

They are forgotten

And certainly not mourned.

One thought on “Radhanites, a lost people

  1. Pingback: History of the Mediterranean: from interaction to frontier | Richard Smith's non-medical blogs

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