The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: war poet

“On Seeing Numidia” by Alexander Robertson

On Seeing Numidia
Alexander Robertson
From Last Poems of Alexander Robertson, 1918

The land of fierce Jugurtha and his foes
And theirs, the Vandals who with Genseric came
From the far north to gain it and a name
Of scorn for ever; great Justinian’s blows
Avenged an Empire’s shame, until the horde
Undid that vengeance, who with conquering zeal
From Asia round these waters to Castile
Swept and the blood of Christian men outpoured.
So many a dominion here hath been,
Barbaric and imperial—yet no change
Would one behold in sea or mountain range
Or cloudless sky, though long since he had seen
The march of cohorts or had heard the cry
Of those who had seen their crown in agony.

Written while sailing on a troopship to Egypt.

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“The Troubadours” by Alexander Robertson

The Troubadours
Alexander Robertson
From Last Poems of Alexander Robertson, 1918

In such castles, set on high,
In the ages long gone by,
Troubadours would live and die.

They would see such deep serene
Skies and such a wondrous green
Of the spring in their demesne.

They would know the Midland sea
Rouse the soul to ecstasy,
Shining there so radiantly.

So they loved both life and love
And the challenge of the glove
And the art all arts above.

Not as priests they sang, about
Tourneys gay and foemen stout,
Love and Beauty, Death and Doubt.

Haply lived as men who see
Nought in life of stern decree,
Yet they sang delectably.

Held that Beauty over all
Sacred is, that Honour’s call
Must be heard though a man may fall.

Came the rude Crusaders’ shock,
Each died on his castled rock,—
Warriors brave of Languedoc.

Written in hospital in Provence.

“The Pillars of Hercules” by Alexander Robertson

The Pillars of Hercules
Alexander Robertson
From Last Poems of Alexander Robertson, 1918

Here was the halting-place in ancient days
For timorous craft: yet on this ocean vast
And that horizon which no ship had passed
Full often would men fix a curious gaze:
They could not deem the sunset shone on ought
Save this expanse of water: such a light
Some isles must bless beyond the reach of night
And fairer than the mind of man had thought.
Thus haply or through more than such regret,
As beyond death men trust there may be more
Of joy than life hath bought, so near this shore
They dared not leave, with wistful minds they set
Beyond the guardian terror of these seas
The beauty of the hid Hesperides.

Written while sailing on a troopship to Egypt.

“Rupert Brooke” by Alexander Robertson

Rupert Brooke
Alexander Robertson
From Last Poems of Alexander Robertson, 1918

They whom thy blithe companionship had blest
Felt anguish at thy passing, though aware
They had no cause for grief, so wholly fair
Thy life to their remembrance, as thy rest,
Lulled by a far sea music, near the graves
Of sages old whose sun of wisdom beams
E’en yet; of those who taught thee love of dreams
And words melodious as the Aegean’s waves.
And because Death, although he stilled thy voice,
Hath found thee nobly careless in this hour
Of all thy gifts; therefore, despite his power
To rob the world of beauty, they rejoice
Almost, though in thy verses oft they found
The accent of great voices clear resound.

“Antigone” by Alexander Robertson

Antigone
Alexander Robertson
From Last Poems of Alexander Robertson 

Hath any read—and sorrowed not the while—
That tragic tale to men of Athens told
By famed Colonus’ son, in days of old,
Of him unwitting error did defile;
Of his loved daughter whom her father’s shame
Ne’er daunted that his fate she should not share
And journey with him, stricken low and bare
Of light and power? Nor could the tyrant tame
Her fearless soul with threat of dreadful doom;
Nor, when Ismene’s fortitude did wane,
To bury him whom else the fowls would gain
E’er shrank she, but his body did entomb.
What sire had ever daughter like to thee?
Or brother sister, great Antigone?