Original Text

The Conquerors and Other Poems (London: Macmillan, 1935): 18-19.

1I care not if from shoulder now to feet
2They strip my poor rags of pretence away --
3Torn lace of pride that once seemed very meet,
5And, with strange darker scarlet soaking through,
6The soiled wet scarlet of a tattered shoe.
7One will say, "See -- a wound got in no fight,
8The ash-white kiss of some old venomed knife,
9And not across his breast, as it were right --
10Draining his honour pale, but not his life."
11And one, "A little scar stands well apart,
12Flame-crooked just above a coward's heart."
14Slave was he to some Thing unholy, such
15As would weave cobweb strands about our lives
16And prison us, should we Its servant touch."
17Presently they will go. I lie as still
18As the small scent of grasses on the hill.
19Their pebbles cannot sting; not when they say,
20"There is no surgeon who would think to heal
22Of tender grass against my breast I feel ...
23Nor care I when one murmurs, very low,
24"That hand had swung a right sword, long ago."
25So -- they were gone. A little noiseless wind
26Touched my scarred wrists. "See, knight, how you are free.
27No dark enchantments can your poor hands bind --
28They were so strong . . ." She sought to comfort me,
29And one white star over the black pines stole --
30I think her joy was to make sick men whole.


4] in the lists: the jousts between mounted knights at a tournament. Back to Line
13] gyves: shackles or fetters. Back to Line
21] serf: a laborer in servitude, member of the lowest class in the feudal system, bound to his lord's land and required to do agricultural labor in return for certain legal or customary rights. Back to Line
Publication Start Year
RPO poem Editors
Cameron La Follette
Data Entry: Sharine Leung