A Roman Sentry's Friday Duty Poem by William F Dougherty

A Roman Sentry's Friday Duty



A soldier's curse is not the copper pay,
stationed here in this gods-forsaken place!
I'd bribe a centurion to leave today.

Anywhere! —lug my shield on the Appian Way
or guard the quarry slaves in rocky Thrace.
A soldier's curse is not the copper pay.

The land is weary, fit for thorns and clay.
The towns are crowded with a bearded race.
I'd bribe a centurion to leave today.

This hill is bald as a skull, cold and gray,
—and I left my woolen tunic back at base!
A soldier's curse is not the copper pay.

Sentry for rebels crucified today—
last year in Rome I won a chariot-race!
I'd bribe a centurion to leave today.

This one I know: I heard the governor say
'Ecce homo! ' (I don't forget a face.)
A soldier's curse is not the copper pay.
I'd bribe a centurion to leave today.

Thursday, February 14, 2008
Topic(s) of this poem: christianity,history,irony,soldier,soldiers
POET'S NOTES ABOUT THE POEM
Young soldier at Golgotha.
COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Robert Howard 16 May 2012

My favorite Villanelle of all time! I can see the soldier pacing angrily stuck with boring duty out in the sticks.

1 0 Reply
rasd 13 June 2022

good intelligence

0 0 Reply
William F Dougherty 27 April 2012

Original published in Romantics Quarterly, Volume III, Issue II, pg 13.

1 0 Reply
Sandra Fowler 13 April 2008

This is indeed a villanelle worthy of the name. You have my admiration for a very fine penning. Warm regards, Sandra

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Alison Cassidy 14 February 2008

It takes great skill to write a villanelle and you have done so admirably in this excellent poem. This form and content are superb. 'A soldier's worst is not the copper pay' - so simple and so worthy of repetition as is 'I'd bribe a Centurian to leave today' History and humanity woven with great skill into a fine poetic fabric. love, Allie ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

2 0 Reply
Scarlett Treat 14 February 2008

This is, just flat out, a wonderful poem, full, not of the brave valor of a warrior, but the mundane, day-to-day life of soldiering! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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