William F Dougherty

(West Hartford, CT)

A Roman Sentry's Friday Duty


A soldier's curse is not the copper pay,
stationed here in this gods-forsaken place!
I'd bribe a centurion to leave today.

Anywhere! —lug my shield on the Appian Way
or guard the quarry slaves in rocky Thrace.
A soldier's curse is not the copper pay.

The land is weary, fit for thorns and clay.
The towns are crowded with a bearded race.
I'd bribe a centurion to leave today.

This hill is bald as a skull, cold and gray,
—and I left my woolen tunic back at base!
A soldier's curse is not the copper pay.

Sentry for rebels crucified today—
last year in Rome I won a chariot-race!
I'd bribe a centurion to leave today.

This one I know: I heard the governor say
'Ecce homo! ' (I don't forget a face.)
A soldier's curse is not the copper pay.
I'd bribe a centurion to leave today.

Submitted: Thursday, February 14, 2008
Edited: Friday, March 08, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

Young soldier at Golgotha.

Comments about this poem (A Roman Sentry's Friday Duty by William F Dougherty )

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  • Robert Howard (5/16/2012 9:17:00 AM)

    My favorite Villanelle of all time! I can see the soldier pacing angrily stuck with boring duty out in the sticks. (Report) Reply

  • Sandra Fowler (4/13/2008 9:17:00 PM)

    This is indeed a villanelle worthy of the name. You have my admiration for a very fine penning.

    Warm regards,

    Sandra (Report) Reply

  • Alison Cassidy (2/14/2008 4:48:00 PM)

    It takes great skill to write a villanelle and you have done so admirably in this excellent poem. This form and content are superb. 'A soldier's worst is not the copper pay' - so simple and so worthy of repetition as is 'I'd bribe a Centurian to leave today' History and humanity woven with great skill into a fine poetic fabric. love, Allie ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (Report) Reply

  • Scarlett Treat (2/14/2008 2:14:00 PM)

    This is, just flat out, a wonderful poem, full, not of the brave valor of a warrior, but the mundane, day-to-day life of soldiering! I thoroughly enjoyed it. (Report) Reply

Read all 5 comments »

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