The Roman Centurion's Song
Roman Occupation of Britain, A.D. 300
Legate, I had the news last night --my cohort ordered home
By ships to Portus Itius and thence by road to Rome.
I've marched the companies aboard, the arms are stowed below:
Now let another take my sword. Command me not to go!
I've served in Britain forty years, from Vectis to the Wall,
I have none other home than this, nor any life at all.
Last night I did not understand, but, now the hour draws near
That calls me to my native land, I feel that land is here.
Here where men say my name was made, here where my work was done;
Here where my dearest dead are laid--my wife--my wife and son;
Here where time, custom, grief and toil, age, memory, service, love,
Have rooted me in British soil. Ah, how can I remove?
Legate, I come to you in tears--My cohort ordered home!
I've served in Britain forty years. What should I do in Rome?
Here is my heart, my soul, my mind--the only life I know.
I cannot leave it all behind. Command me not to go!