achievement
non sibi sed toti

Classics Teaching Resources


Roman Britain - Soldiers

We who live in England use roads the Romans made.
Pots and coins may surface beneath our garden spade.
Excavate a car-park and find a Roman town;
What they left remains here, not many inches down.
But the hopes, ambitions, loves and hates and fears,
Are they lost for ever, down the fading years?
Where we lesser mortals find them past our reach,
Poets have imagined, given those spirits speech.

David Parsons, May 2004

On other pages:

Invasion
Soldiers
Landscapes
Hadrian's Wall
Living
Leaving
Aftermath
Now and Then
On this page:

Rimini by Rudyard Kipling
A British-Roman Song (A. D. 406) by Rudyard Kipling
A Song to Mithras by Rudyard Kipling

See also Hadrian's Wall

Rimini

Marching Song of a Roman Legion of the Later Empire
Enlarged From "Puck of Pook's Hill"
by Rudyard Kipling
When I left Rome for Lalage's sake,
By the Legions' Road to Rimini,
She vowed her heart was mine to take
With me and my shield to Rimini--
(Till the Eagles flew from Rimini--)
And I've tramped Britain, and I've tramped Gaul
And the Pontic shore where the snow-flakes fall
As white as the neck of Lalage--
(As cold as the heart of Lalage!)
And I've lost Britain, and I've lost Gaul,
And I've lost Rome and, worst of all,
I've lost Lalage!                      -

When you go by the Via Aurelia
As thousands have traveled before
Remember the Luck of the Soldier
Who never saw Rome any more!
Oh, dear was the sweetheart that kissed him,
And dear was the mother that bore;
But his shield was picked up in the heather,
And he never saw Rome any more!

And he left Rome, etc.

When you go by the Via Aurelia
That runs from the City to Gaul,
Remember the Luck of the Soldier
Who rose to be master of all!
He carried the sword and the buckler,
He mounted his guard on the Wall,
Till the Legions elected him Caesar,
And he rose to be master of all!

And he left Rome, etc.

It's twenty-five marches to Narbo,
It's forty-five more up the Rhone,
And the end may be death in the heather
Or life on an Emperor's throne.
But whether the Eagles obey us,
Or we go to the Ravens -- alone,
I'd sooner be Lalage's lover
Than sit on an Emperor's throne!
We've all left Rome for Lalage's sake, etc.

A British-Roman Song (A. D. 406)

from: "A Centurion of the Thirtieth" - Puck of Pook's Hill
by Rudyard Kipling

My father's father saw it not,
  And I, belike, shall never come 
To look on that so-holy spot --
              That very Rome --

Crowned by all Time, all Art, all Might,
  The equal work of Gods and Man,
City beneath whose oldest height --
               The Race began!

 Soon to send forth again a brood,
   Unshakable, we pray, that clings
 To Rome's thrice-hammered hardihood --
              In arduous things.

 Strong heart with triple armour bound,
   Beat strongly, for thy life-blood runs,
 Age after Age, the Empire round --
              In us thy Sons

 Who, distant from the Seven Hills,
      Loving and serving much, require
 Thee -- thee to guard 'gainst home-born ills
             The  Imperial Fire!

A song to Mithras

by Rudyard Kipling

Mithras, God of the Morning, our trumpets waken the Wall!
'Rome is above the Nations, but Thou art over all!'
Now as the names are answered, and the guards are marched away,
Mithras, also a soldier, give us strength for the day!

Mithras, God of the Noontide, the heather swims in the heat,
Our helmets scorch our foreheads, our sandals burn our feet.
Now, in the ungirt hour, now, ere we blink and drowse,
Mithras, also a soldier, keep us true to our vows!

Mithras, God of the Sunset, low on the Western main,
Thou descending immortal, immortal to rise again!
Now when the watch is ended, now when the wine is drawn,
Mithras, also a soldier, keep us pure till the dawn!

Mithras, God of the Midnight, here where the great bull dies,
Look on Thy children in darkness. Oh, take our sacrifice!
Many roads Thou hast fashioned: all of them lead to the Light!
Mithras, also a soldier, teach us to die aright!

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