The Chess Variant Pages



Chess Morality X: Seven Wonders

The Blessed Lord said: The seven primaeval seers and the four Manus are also of
my Nature; they were born of my mind, and from them have arisen all these
creatures in the world.
                    --Bhagavad Gita, 'Manifestations'
Fool: The reason why the seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty reason.
Lear: Because they are not eight?
Fool: Yes indeed; thou wouldst make a good Fool.
                    --William Shakespeare, 'King Lear'
Alice said, 'I declare it's marked out just like a large chess-board! It's a
great huge game of Chess that's being played all over the world.'
                    --Lewis Carroll, 'Through the Looking-Glass'
The Flora of the night opens its petals
And grows, filling the spaces of the sky,
Unfurling the ribbon of the abolished cycles.
The Ram of dawn prepares to set out
The Comet has placed its spark on their forehead,
The fabulous monsters of the ether and the void.
                    --Robert Desnos, 'The Fine After-midnight'

Mercury the Bishop, Venus the Queen
Mars Knight, Saturn Rook, Jupiter the King--
Caissa's seeming motions like as orbits seen,
The playing field on Earth, each trailing ring
About Sol shapes sun Falcon's hidden paths,
Bodies streaming equal timed and spaced swaths.

Sol: Above the Pyramid, the eye of Horus,
The Falcon god, sees that the secrets kept,
Far from where naysaying demon chorus
Can jeer, defy or threaten, what was swept
Some millennia ago from all records,
Of ancient knowledge never put in words.

Luna: In Artemis' Temple from pillar to post
They play a waiting game, gone by the board.
Pawns take up positions favored the most
For natural cycles to be restored.
A change in the forecast comes none too soon,
For the rare rainbow created by the Moon.

Mars: A Knight's or Falcon's tour across the board,
Using Colossus of Rhodes' seven-league strides,
Takes combinations as yet unexplored
And reaches every square just once besides,
Shades of seven voyages that Sinbad struck
And blessings of the seven gods of luck.

Mercury: A Lighthouse Pharos in the sky and beacon--
Caissa's Comet must seem to craft her path
Within a tethered course and then streak on,
A clockwork motion in the aftermath--
Strict as the se'en medieval learning arts,
Paced like seven op'nings of four-chambered hearts.

Jupiter: Seven! No wonder! (Mark well 'eight' parts of speech.)
'Seven' is no perfect number, cube, or square.
Whate'er numeric pattern in our reach
May harbour hidden meanings unaware.
How many cubits high's Statue of Zeus
Bemeted by the standard that's in use.

Venus: In the Hanging Gardens beyond measure
The merest thought may turn into a tree,
The tree in turn changes at its leisure
Pieces in a nested hierarchy,
Fitting like seven layers of taxonomy,
True as are the seven stars in astronomy.

Saturn: Heralding the one true Chess so designed
The struggle to let 'by games' be 'bygones';
Out of the Mausoleum of the mind
The ranks of imposters and false icons.     
This clash between the sacred and things chthonic
The reason why Seven's wonders good mnemonic.

George William Duke 2003


Written by George William Duke.
WWW page created: February 18th, 2003.