Through the travail of the ages, Midst the pomp and toil of war, I have fought and strove and perished Countless times upon this star.
In the form of many people In all panoplies of time Have I seen the luring vision Of the Victory Maid, sublime.
I have battled for fresh mammoth, I have warred for pastures new, I have listed to the whispers When the race trek instinct grew.
I have known the call to battle In each changeless changing shape From the high souled voice of conscience To the beastly lust for rape.
I have sinned and I have suffered, Played the hero and the knave; Fought for belly, shame, or country, And for each have found a grave.
I cannot name my battles For the visions are not clear, Yet, I see the twisted faces And I feel the rending spear.
Perhaps I stabbed our Savior In His sacred helpless side. Yet, I've called His name in blessing When after times I died.
In the dimness of the shadows Where we hairy heathens warred, I can taste in thought the lifeblood; We used teeth before the sword.
While in later clearer vision I can sense the coppery sweat, Feel the pikes grow wet and slippery When our Phalanx, Cyrus met.
Hear the rattle of the harness Where the Persian darts bounced clear, See their chariots wheel in panic From the Hoplite's leveled spear.
See the goal grow monthly longer, Reaching for the walls of Tyre. Hear the crash of tons of granite, Smell the quenchless eastern fire.
Still more clearly as a Roman, Can I see the Legion close, As our third rank moved in forward And the short sword found our foes.
Once again I feel the anguish Of that blistering treeless plain When the Parthian showered death bolts, And our discipline was in vain.
I remember all the suffering Of those arrows in my neck. Yet, I stabbed a grinning savage As I died upon my back.
Once again I smell the heat sparks When my Flemish plate gave way And the lance ripped through my entrails As on Crecy's field I lay.
In the windless, blinding stillness Of the glittering tropic sea I can see the bubbles rising Where we set the captives free.
Midst the spume of half a tempest I have heard the bulwarks go When the crashing, point blank round shot Sent destruction to our foe.
I have fought with gun and cutlass On the red and slippery deck With all Hell aflame within me And a rope around my neck.
And still later as a General Have I galloped with Murat When we laughed at death and numbers Trusting in the Emperor's Star.
Till at last our star faded, And we shouted to our doom Where the sunken road of Ohein Closed us in it's quivering gloom.
So but now with Tanks a'clatter Have I waddled on the foe Belching death at twenty paces, By the star shell's ghastly glow.
So as through a glass, and darkly The age long strife I see Where I fought in many guises, Many names, but always me.
And I see not in my blindness What the objects were I wrought, But as God rules o'er our bickerings It was through His will I fought.
So forever in the future, Shall I battle as of yore, Dying to be born a fighter, But to die again, once more.