(A. D. 406)
"A Centurion of the Thirtieth"
The Babe was laid in the Manger
The stream is shrunk--the pool is dry,
And we be comrades, thou and I;
With fevered jowl and dusty flank
Each jostling each along the bank;
This 'appened in a battle to a batt'ry of the corps
Which is first among the women an' amazin' first in war;
An' what the bloomin' battle was I don't remember now,
But Two's off-lead 'e answered to the name o' ~Snarleyow~.
Try as he will, no man breaks wholly loose
From his first love, no matter who she be.
Oh, was there ever sailor free to choose,
That didn't settle somewhere near the sea?
Gold is for the mistress -- silver for the maid --
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.
"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all."
It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late
With long arrears to make good,
When the English began to hate.
And they were stronger hands than mine
That digged the Ruby from the earth--
More cunning brains that made it worth
The large desire of a king,
Yet at the last, ere our spearmen had found him,
Yet at the last, ere a sword-thrust could save,
Yet at the last, with his masters around him,
He spoke of the Faith as a master to slave.
Man dies too soon, beside his works half-planned.
His days are counted and reprieve is vain:
Who shall entreat with Death to stay his hand;
Or cloke the shameful nakedness of pain?