Bright-Eyed Bortai

The histories say
what he saw on the day
young Temujin came to the place
he would first meet the bride
who would be by his side
when he rose to the rule of his race.
Although the scribes fail
to give any detail
of her hair or her form or her grace,
word for word they retell
what he said he beheld:
“Bright eyes, and a shining face.”

Bortai was her name,
and her new husband's fame
would be warrior and leader and lord,
remembered since then
as the master of men –
Chinggis-Khan of the great Mongol Horde;
it's never forgot
that the sons he begot
would rule kingdoms he conquered by sword;
but the tale isn't whole
if you leave out his rôle
as the husband of one he adored.

This woman so dear,
early in his career,
was seized by an enemy sly;
and the rescue was wild,
but she came back with child,
and in Temujin!s arms she did cry.
But the baby he blest
with a name that means “guest” –
this boy, of dark hair and dark eye,
he raised as his son,
because Jöchi was one
of the children of bright-eyed Bortai.

The strength of his bands
swept across all the lands
with a force like the wind and the tide.
After decades of strife,
at the end of his life
he called all his sons to his side.
On the order he spoke,
one arrow each broke;
then a bundle of arrows they tried
to break, all for naught.
This last lesson he taught:
“Stay together!” ... Then Temujin died.

The strong sons Bortai bore
him, through history roar
like the thundering storms none can flee;
yet they kept and obeyed
all the laws that he made,
as the duty they owed, loyally.
Möngke Tengri * rewarded
the virtues they guarded
with steady and swift victory,
and crownéd the good
of their firm brotherhood
with an empire that stretched sea to sea.

But the greatest of trees
must succumb to disease
or the ages, and wither and die:
the empire once won
has been many years gone,
and the centuries slowly roll by;
while those that had lost
it are tumbled and toss'd
Into ev'ry land under the sky;
they've been scattered and hurled
all throughout the known world –
the children of bright-eyed Bortai.

In the place that he's in
now, does old Temujin
scowl down and then sternly ask why
his descendants have lost
what he won at such cost?
Does he mutter and grumble and sigh?
Does he sneer with harsh scorn?
Does he bitterly mourn?
He might feel some such way... yet I
think he!s glad, there above –
they still live, strive, and love –
the children of bright-eyed Bortai.

C.M. Joserlin, “Raven”, lives in the Kingdom of Northshield.

*Möngke Tengri: Mighty Heaven