Prose & Poetry - The Muse in Arms - The Road

"The Road" by Gordon Alchin First published in London in November 1917 and reprinted in February 1918 The Muse in Arms comprised, in the words of editor E. B. Osborne:

"A collection of war poems, for the most part written in the field of action, by seamen, soldiers, and flying men who are serving, or have served, in the Great War".

Below is one of fifteen poems featured within the Battle Pieces section of the collection.

You can access other poems within the section via the sidebar to the right.

The Road
by Gordon Alchin

When first the paving of the Road
Rang to the tread of the marching Roman,
And Caesar's legions seaward strode
To find a yet unmastered foeman,-
Full many a curse, of ancient flavour,
Rolled far along the muddy Way;
A curse upon the highway's paver,
Whose echoes linger to this day!

A thousand years - (when England lay
Beneath the heel of the Norman raider):-
The cobbles of the age-worn Way
Echo the march of the mailed Crusader:
Whilst many an oath, of pious fervour,
Between their chaunt and roundelay,
Gives proof to any close observer,
That men are changed little to-day!

Again a thousand years - again
The ancient frontier Road enslaving,
Come horse and cannon, motor-train:-
All sweep along the narrow paving.
A wondrous change, you say?  but listen!
Listen to the words they say!
What matter cannon, petrol, piston?
The men are just the same to-day!

A "red cap" was a British military policeman.

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