Roman Wall Blues

Over the heather the wet wind blows,
I’ve lice in my tunic and a cold in my nose.

The rain comes pattering out of the sky,
I’m a Wall soldier, I don’t know why.

The mist creeps over the hard grey stone,
My girl’s in Tungria; I sleep alone.

Aulus goes hanging around her place,
I don’t like his manners, I don’t like his face.

Piso’s a Christian, he worships a fish;
There’d be no kissing if he had his wish.

She gave me a ring but I diced it away;
I want my girl and I want my pay.

When I’m a veteran with only one eye
I shall do nothing but look at the sky.

– W. H. Auden


There’s something of the universal in this account of the miseries of being posted on border-patrol, far from home. This reminds me of a Tamil poem that my father once recited to me about a soldier posted far from home sending a message to his wife.
You can read a bio of Auden here. We’ve run other poems by Auden here.

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