Ballad on the loss of Alhama

Timothy Adès

Anonymous, 15th century

The Moorish King was passing
    through the city of Granada
From the gate of Elvira
     to that of Vivarrambla.
To him had come despatches
    that Alhama had been taken.
He threw them on the fire
    and put to death the bearer.
Dismounting from the jenny
    and riding on a warhorse,
Up through the Zacatín
    he came to the Alhambra.
On reaching the Alhambra
    he straightway gave an order:
He bade them sound the trumpets,
    the añafils of silver,
To open up the war-chests
    and quickly arm for battle,
That all the Moors should hear it
     in the plain and in Granada.
The Moors who heard the tocsin
    that called to bloody combat
One by one, two by two
     joined in a great battalion.
An aged Moor gave voice
    and spoke up in this manner:
‘Why do you call us, King?
    What reason for the summons?’
‘This you must know, my friends,
    new tidings of misfortune:
That daring Christian men
     have taken our Alhama.’
Then spoke a learned doctor,
    his beard well-grown and hoary:
‘Good King, you are well served,
    good King, you are served fairly.
‘You slew the Abencerrajes,
     once the flower of Granada,
You seized the renegades
    of Cordova the renowned.
For this, King, you deserve
     a penalty redoubled:
You and your kingdom lost,
    and lost alike Granada.’

Translated by Timothy Adès.

The loss of Alhama de Granada to the Catholic Monarchs in 1482 was fatal to the Moorish kingdom of Granada, which fell to the Christian Reconquista 10 years later.

Poetry Atlas has another tradiitional poem lamenting the loss of Alhama.

We also have many other poems about Granada.

Main Location:

18120 Alhama de Granada, Granada, Spain

Other locations:

Alhama de Granada in Andalusia, Spain

Creative Commons image by Adrian Scottow.