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“And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.”
- Matthew Arnold
Black has the advantage at night. Black plays the black pieces at night. He is
invisible. White, on the other hand, is starkly revealed - the hand that moves
the white pieces can be seen. It is unsure of itself, it starts, stops and
trembles in fear. It wants to appear sure of itself but it can’t hide its
Black boasts that he will beat this white army and leave not a piece unbroken.
He will march through the night, unseen and unheard, from one plain to the next
until everything he beholds is his. Mind you, he is not unsympathetic. He knows
his enemy is at a disadvantage, that is the privilege of the invader. To pick
the time and the place and to make the outcome a forgone conclusion.
But on the other side, the white army stands firm, each man aware of the man
next to him. Each man peers into the thick darkness ahead of him. No movement of
the enemy is detected, but the shuffling of many feet, the metallic clicking of
gun bolts and the murmur of many voices can be plainly heard. A pawn, holding
his lance well ahead of him, says to the knight behind him, “It is unfair to
keep us out here in the dark, we will be picked off one by one.”
“Do you think it is any easier for me? I am a bigger target, I am in far greater
danger than you. When they come for us I will be the first one they see”
“We don’t have the proper equipment,” the pawn complains. “They have weapons
superior to ours. Look at this lance! It’s broken in the middle and I’ve had to
bind it with cord myself!”
The Bishops, who stand between the knights and the Royal Family swing their
censers and shake their heads knowingly. “We shall prevail. Have no fear - the
Almighty is with us. He is on our side. We are in the light and the enemy is in
“I’d feel better if my lance were in one piece,” the pawn mutters.
Back in the dark the black pawns huddle in the cold, the knight’s horses stumble
over unfamiliar soil. Every man complains of being on unfamiliar ground. Who
knows what lay beneath their feet and who can they depend on to show them the
way? Even the Bishops and the Royal Family of the Dark agree that there is no
substitute for being on familiar ground.
... and so the great and final battle will not be fought tonight. The danger of
defeat is too great on both sides, and if they should wait for the day to come
they might see that the ground is not worth the battle after all -- there is not
enough land to bury the dead.
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