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64478: The Legion

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posted on 2024-04-05, 12:52 authored by First World War Poetry Digital Archive Project Team

'Is that the Three-and-Twentieth, Strabo mine,
Marching below, and we still gulping wine?'
From the sad magic of his fragrant cup
The red-faced old centurion started up,
Cursed, battered on the table. 'No,' he said,
'Not that! The Three-and-Twentieth Legion's dead,
Dead in the first year of this damned campaign---
The Legion's dead, dead, and won't rise again.
Pity? Rome pities her brave lads that die,
But we need pity also, you and I,
Whom Gallic spear and Belgian arrow miss,
Who live to see the Legion come to this:
Unsoldierlike, slovenly, bent on loot,
Grumblers, diseased, unskilled to thrust or shoot.
O brown cheek, muscled shoulder, sturdy thigh!
Where are they now? God! watch it straggle by,
The sullen pack of ragged, ugly swine!
Is that the Legion, Gracchus? Quick, the wine!'
'Strabo,' said Gracchus, 'you are strange to-night.
The Legion is the Legion, it's all right.
If these new men are slovenly, in your thinking,
Hell take it! you'll not better them by drinking.
They all try, Strabo; trust their hearts and hands.
The Legion is the Legion while Rome stands,
And these same men before the autumn's fall
Shall bang old Vercingetorix out of Gaul.'

History

Identifier

3433.txt

Creator

Graves, Robert (1895-1985)

Date

(1995, 1997, 1999)

Date Created

01/01/1997

Temporal Date

31/12/1999

Type

Poem

Rights

The Robert Graves Copyright Trust / Published in Graves, R. (1999) Complete Poems: Volumes 1 - 3. Eds. B. Graves and D. Ward. London: Penguin Books.

Repository Name

ProQuest

Publisher

The First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Usage metrics

    The Robert Graves Collection

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