THE LEGION by ROBERT GRAVES
'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.'
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|Author||Graves, Robert (1895-1985)|
|Item Date||(1995, 1997, 1999)|
|Copyright||The Robert Graves Copyright Trust|
|First line||'Is that the Three-and-Twentieth, Strabo mine,|
|Publication source||Robert Graves Complete Poems: Volumes 1 - 3|
|Publication editor||Graves, Beryl and Ward, Dunstan|
|Digital repository||The First World War Poetry Digital Archive|