Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

The Roman Centurion's Song


Roman Occupation of Britain, A.D. 300


Legate, I had the news last night --my cohort ordered home
By ships to Portus Itius and thence by road to Rome.
I've marched the companies aboard, the arms are stowed below:
Now let another take my sword. Command me not to go!

I've served in Britain forty years, from Vectis to the Wall,
I have none other home than this, nor any life at all.
Last night I did not understand, but, now the hour draws near
That calls me to my native land, I feel that land is here.

Here where men say my name was made, here where my work was done;
Here where my dearest dead are laid--my wife--my wife and son;
Here where time, custom, grief and toil, age, memory, service, love,
Have rooted me in British soil. Ah, how can I remove?

For me this land, that sea, these airs, those folk and fields surffice.
What purple Southern pomp can match our changeful Northern skies,
Black with December snows unshed or pearled with August haze--
The clanging arch of steel-grey March, or June's long-lighted days?

You'll follow widening Rhodanus till vine an olive lean
Aslant before the sunny breeze that sweeps Nemausus clean
To Arelate's triple gate; but let me linger on,
Here where our stiff-necked British oaks confront Euroclydon!

You'll take the old Aurelian Road through shore-descending pines
Where, blue as any peacock's neck, the Tyrrhene Ocean shines.
You'll go where laurel crowns are won, but--will you e'er forget
The scent of hawthorn in the sun, or bracken in the wet?

Let me work here for Britain's sake--at any task you will--
A marsh to drain, a road to make or native troops to drill.
Some Western camp (I know the Pict) or granite Border keep,
Mid seas of heather derelict, where our old messmates sleep.

Legate, I come to you in tears--My cohort ordered home!
I've served in Britain forty years. What should I do in Rome?
Here is my heart, my soul, my mind--the only life I know.
I cannot leave it all behind. Command me not to go!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: august, june, home, work, purple, grief, memory, ocean, son, sleep, night, sea, song, sun, sky

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (The Roman Centurion's Song by Rudyard Kipling )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  2. Invictus, William Ernest Henley
  3. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  4. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  5. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  6. No Man Is An Island, John Donne
  7. Daffodils, William Wordsworth
  8. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
  9. The Tiger, William Blake
  10. If, Rudyard Kipling

Poem of the Day

poet Alfred Edward Housman

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

...... Read complete »

   

Member Poem

New Poems

  1. As You Laid There, GJG Elton
  2. At the market..., Ganesh Veeraraghavan
  3. Below, Frank Avon
  4. God's own..., Ganesh Veeraraghavan
  5. 2 Fast And The Furious, Mark Harper
  6. midnight dream, Cee Bea
  7. know you are there...., Ganesh Veeraraghavan
  8. You Are Your Wish, Gbolagade Taiwo
  9. a small stop...., Ganesh Veeraraghavan
  10. Id est, Frank Avon
[Hata Bildir]