The Warrior's Soul

"And, as through a glass and darkly,
The age-long strife I see
I've fought in many guises,
Many names, but always me.

I cannot name my battles
For the visions are not clear,
Yet I see the twisting faces
And I feel the rending spear."
-Gen. George S. Patton

For six thousand lives of men I have walked
Among these ancient, lonely, mist-choked hills.
In the shaman's mushroom-trance I look back
Over deep, uncounted eons and see
Far-stretching Time unfolded like a sheet.
I see the buzzard soaring on the wind
And smell the iron blood-scent that he smells.
See now the flint-tipped axe and ashen spear
Stained dusky red; feel the hot spray upon
My face; battle's joined on the mountainside.
I feel the war-club break my heathen skull,
I give my life-blood to the hungry earth.
For land or slaves, meat, women, or freedom,
For simple hatreds or some great crusade,
I have walked for so many ages in
These same hills where the fog rolls blanket-thick
And the next valley is a mystery
That life and death are blended, are the same,
My great battles are barely memories,
And even my very name has been lost.
When again the stone axe or ashen spear
Shall lay me low and I shall gladly give
Another meal to Earth that nourished me,
I will sleep again in death only to
Be reborn once more as a slayer of men,
Be reborn in these same mist-covered hills.