Belisarius Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Belisarius

Rating: 3.0


I am poor and old and blind;
The sun burns me, and the wind
Blows through the city gate
And covers me with dust
From the wheels of the august
Justinian the Great.

It was for him I chased
The Persians o'er wild and waste,
As General of the East;
Night after night I lay
In their camps of yesterday;
Their forage was my feast.

For him, with sails of red,
And torches at mast-head,
Piloting the great fleet,
I swept the Afric coasts
And scattered the Vandal hosts,
Like dust in a windy street.

For him I won again
The Ausonian realm and reign,
Rome and Parthenope;
And all the land was mine
From the summits of Apennine
To the shores of either sea.

For him, in my feeble age,
I dared the battle's rage,
To save Byzantium's state,
When the tents of Zabergan,
Like snow-drifts overran
The road to the Golden Gate.

And for this, for this, behold!
Infirm and blind and old,
With gray, uncovered head,
Beneath the very arch
Of my triumphal march,
I stand and beg my bread!

Methinks I still can hear,
Sounding distinct and near,
The Vandal monarch's cry,
As, captive and disgraced,
With majestic step he paced,--
"All, all is Vanity!"

Ah! vainest of all things
Is the gratitude of kings;
The plaudits of the crowd
Are but the clatter of feet
At midnight in the street,
Hollow and restless and loud.

But the bitterest disgrace
Is to see forever the face
Of the Monk of Ephesus!
The unconquerable will
This, too, can bear;--I still
Am Belisarius!

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Ratnakar Mandlik 06 March 2016

A beautifully conceived soliloquy of an old warrior who fought battles for his monarch when he could and living in pathetic conditions in old age more or less like a beggar.

1 1 Reply
Susan Williams 06 March 2016

To quote a certain weird wealthy businessman- this poem is HUGE. He is talking Ancient History to his generation of retired soldiers and he very well could be talking to all the soldiers since. We honor our warriors till they are too old to march onto the battlefield- then we don't see them begging for bread on the streets

22 0 Reply
Edward Kofi Louis 06 March 2016

Realm and reign! Old with the muse of life. Thanks for sharing.

1 2 Reply
M Asim Nehal 06 March 2016

WOnderful poem to read....I liked it, thanks for sharing.

1 0 Reply
* Sunprincess * 29 August 2015

....an excellent write...nicely composed ?

2 0 Reply
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