A poem about honor

Discussion in 'The VMBB Poets' started by Guest, Mar 1, 2003.

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    dirty423
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    Posts: 17
    (6/22/01 11:55:33 pm)
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    Lest there be a mistake, I am an atheist. I respect those with courage in their convictions.

    The Soldier of Fortune

    "Deny your God!" they ringed me with their spears;
    Blood-crazed were they, and reeking from the strife;
    Hell-hot their hate, and venom-fanged their sneers,
    And one man spat on me and nursed a knife.
    And there was I, sore wounded and alone,
    I, the last living of my slaughtered band.
    Oh sinister the sky, and cold as stone!
    In one red laugh of horror reeled the land.
    And dazed and desperate I faced their spears,
    And like a flame out-leaped that naked knife,
    And like a serpent stung their bitter jeers:
    "Deny your God, and we will give you life."

    Deny my God! Oh life was very sweet!
    And it is hard in youth and hope to die;
    And there my comrades dear lay at my feet,
    And in that blear of blood soon must I lie.
    And yet . . . I almost laughed -- it seemed so odd,
    For long and long had I not vainly tried
    To reason out and body forth my God,
    And prayed for light, and doubted -- and denied:
    Denied the Being I could not conceive,
    Denied a life-to-be beyond the grave. . . .
    And now they ask me, who do not believe,
    Just to deny, to voice my doubt, to save
    This life of mine that sings so in the sun,
    The bloom of youth yet red upon my cheek,
    My only life! -- O fools! 'tis easy done,
    I will deny . . . and yet I do not speak.

    "Deny your God!" their spears are all agleam,
    And I can see their eyes with blood-lust shine;
    Their snarling voices shrill into a scream,
    And, mad to slay, they quiver for the sign.
    Deny my God! yes, I could do it well;
    Yet if I did, what of my race, my name?
    How they would spit on me, these dogs of hell!
    Spurn me, and put on me the brand of shame.
    A white man's honour! what of that, I say?
    Shall these black curs cry "Coward" in my face?
    They who would perish for their gods of clay --
    Shall I defile my country and my race?
    My country! what's my country to me now?
    Soldier of Fortune, free and far I roam;
    All men are brothers in my heart, I vow;
    The wide and wondrous world is all my home.
    My country! reverent of her splendid Dead,
    Her heroes proud, her martyrs pierced with pain:
    For me her puissant blood was vainly shed;
    For me her drums of battle beat in vain,
    And free I fare, half-heedless of her fate:
    No faith, no flag I owe -- then why not seek
    This last loop-hole of life? Why hesitate?
    I will deny . . . and yet I do not speak.

    "Deny your God!" their spears are poised on high,
    And tense and terrible they wait the word;
    And dark and darker glooms the dreary sky,
    And in that hush of horror no thing stirred.
    Then, through the ringing terror and sheer hate
    Leaped there a vision to me -- Oh, how far!
    A face, Her face . . . through all my stormy fate
    A joy, a strength, a glory and a star.
    Beneath the pines, where lonely camp-fires gleam,
    In seas forlorn, amid the deserts drear,
    How I had gladdened to that face of dream!
    And never, never had it seemed so dear.
    O silken hair that veils the sunny brow!
    O eyes of grey, so tender and so true!
    O lips of smiling sweetness! must I now
    For ever and for ever go from you?
    Ah, yes, I must . . . for if I do this thing,
    How can I look into your face again?
    Knowing you think me more than half a king,
    I with my craven heart, my honour slain.

    No! no! my mind's made up. I gaze above,
    Into that sky insensate as a stone;
    Not for my creed, my country, but my Love
    Will I stand up and meet my death alone.
    Then though it be to utter dark I sink,
    The God that dwells in me is not denied;
    "Best" triumphs over "Beast", -- and so I think
    Humanity itself is glorified. . . .

    "And now, my butchers, I embrace my fate.
    Come! let my heart's blood slake the thirsty sod.
    Curst be the life you offer! Glut your hate!
    Strike! Strike, you dogs! I'll not deny my God."

    I saw the spears that seemed a-leap to slay,
    All quiver earthward at the headman's nod;
    And in a daze of dream I heard him say:
    "Go, set him free who serves so well his God!"


    --- Robert Service


    The point of the spear

    TShooters
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 283
    (6/23/01 10:26:44 am)
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    Fantastic, dirty423! Is this your writing??

    Sharon

    dap22
    Senior Chief Moderator II
    Posts: 763
    (6/23/01 8:40:39 pm)
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    ezSupporter
    Re: A poem about honor
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    Dirty........an interesting poem. But would you mind explaining to me where honor comes through with this poem???

    hope6970
    Moderator
    Posts: 447
    (6/24/01 12:36:20 am)
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    Dirty, Robert Service was a writer who I always thought wrote with a pen in one hand and a bottle in the other, after all being up in the far North I guess he had to keep warm somehow. He did write a few good works. One of them and I can not remember the exact name of it, was titled something like " Ma and Pa" It had something to do with an Outhouse. If you have any of his works you may be able to find that poem. It is quite funny. - Hope

    nighthawk
    Member
    Posts: 42
    (6/24/01 8:20:13 pm)
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    Dirty,,,a classic,,Robert Service had insight into human nature. Thanks for bringing his work into this discussion group.

    Hope, I think you are correct,,,plus add cocain addiction in his later years. However, Service spent time in France during WWI, and later, in Africa, and wrote some very moving poetry about man and conflict. I have some of his work, but not the one you are refering to,,but, I will find it!!!,,,lol

    This is another of his works which may apply here.

    Victory Stuff
    by Robert Service

    What d'ye think, lad; what d'ye think,
    As the roaring crowds go by?
    As the banners flare and the brasses blare,
    And the great guns rend the sky?
    As the women laugh like they'd all gone mad,
    And the champagne glasses clink:
    Oh, you're grippin' me hand so tightly, lad,
    I'm a-wondein': what d'ye think?
    D'ye think o' the boys we used to know,
    And how they'd have topped the fun?
    Tom and Charlie, and Jack and Joe ---
    Gone now, every one.
    How they'd have cheered as the joy-bells chime,
    And they grabbed each girl for a kiss!
    And now - they're rottin' in Flanders slime,
    And they gave their lives -- for THIS!
    Or else d'ye think of the many a time
    We wished we too were dead,
    Up to our knees in the freezin' grime,
    With the fires of hell overhead;
    When the youth and the strength of us sapped away,
    And we cursed in our rage and pain?
    And yet - we haven't a word to say ......
    We're glad. We'd do it again.
    I'm scared that they pity us. Come, old boy,
    Lets' leave them their flags and their fuss.
    We'd surely be hatin' to spoil their joy
    With the sight of such wrecks as us.
    Let's slip away quietly, you and me,
    And we'll talk of our chums out there:
    You with your eyes that'll never see,
    Me that's wheeled in a chair.

    hope6970
    Moderator
    Posts: 450
    (6/24/01 10:00:57 pm)
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    Thanks Nighthawk, Service did write some good stuff when he was a mind to. He did spend time in France and Africa.

    It has been a very long time since I have read his works. Thanks to Dirty for posting. If you or Dirty find the poem I was speaking of, please post it. You two have brought back some happy memories. - Hope

    nighthawk
    Member
    Posts: 44
    (6/24/01 10:53:04 pm)
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    Hope
    Always happy to oblige a lady,,,will look for that poem,,and if there are any others you would like, holler!!

    homer4
    Moderator
    Posts: 986
    (6/27/01 5:42:00 am)
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    Some real good stuff there Hawk.
    ...and two hard boiled eggs.
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