Re-Incarnation

While waiting for proof copies of the forthcoming Lone Scout of Letters to arrive, I’ve been adding notes here and there where appropriate. While doing this, I came upon the following, from Herbert Klatt’s March 9, 1926 letter to Clyde Smith:

I read all the Collegian except some of the news proper—athletics—so I have not missed anything by Robert Arselle and Kerry Maynell. Of material in the Collegian, I like “White Haired Shadows” best, though that is not poetry proper. “Reincarnation” is not so bad. I can imagine Bob reciting it.

That sparked my interest, so I went looking through the Smith-edited issues of the Daniel Baker Collegian (copies acquired from the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives at Texas A&M University). I found what I was looking for in the February 12, 1926 issue:

Re-Incarnation
By Robert Arselle

I have drank from the cup
And seen the flares of dawn;
I have lived in hell
And known the devil’s spawn.
Down through the ages long,
I have danced on the brinks of death;
Fate has had its fling
With the scars of the mammon breath.
From out of the distant past,
When time and God began,
I have crawled in the muck of the devil’s deeds
And felt the evil hand
That leads us on to a reckless end
And guards the lonely tombs of men.
If you will come with me to delve
Far back in the hidden past,
I will show you life since Time began
To play with the sands of chance.
For I have known a million kings
Who have lived with greed and lust,
And billions of others who have clutched
At vile perdition’s dust.
Since the age, when years ago,
I called the trees my home,
Down through the years when progress loomed
And we lashed the ocean’s foam.
Far happier in the primitive
Than in the years ahead,
When life changed to nothing
Else but the devil’s tread.
Numb we were in a modern sense,
And life and love were strange,
But down to the depths of our brutish hearts
Until the years of change
We had gained the heights of Paradise;
And we knew more of God
Than in the bloody years when chance
Forced us to rule the sod.
Since those mad years when first we groped
In a land else than our birth,
We have ever known the evil hiss
That has rocked the world in mirth.
Laughter harsh as the sibilant wind
That slashes the frozen waste
And carries us down to the pits of death
That we may know the taste
That follows on the sharpened tart
Bitterness brings to the human heart.
So for years I have fought and died
Only to live again.
I have seen the blades of blood mad hordes
Crash in the battle din.
I have known all the fields of carnage
From Troy and Ancient Gaul;
Concord, Waterloo, St. Michael,
I have seen through the blazing maul.
Here with broadsword and armor,
Hacking my way through the fight,
There on a foaming charger,
Riding like hell through the night.
Thus I have wooed destruction,
And insidious havoc wrought;
I have gazed on the beds of slaughter
That the crowns of kings have brought.
I have dared the golden harems
Of the ancient Persian line,
I have known the suns of Carthage
And I’ve drank the Aztec wine.
I have lived with keen enjoyment
In the company of sheiks,
And I’ve scaled with dissoluteness
Debauchery’s highest peak.
I’ve known the whole world in my time,
Its sordidness and shame;
In the years that I have lived,
I’ve snatched my lot of fame.
Under the banners of Tamerlane
I’ve met defeat and death,
So life will always be for me
Until the final breath
Dies in the throat of father time,
Who, with glazing eyes,
Cast up to crimson heavens,
Gasps, struggles, and dies.

I’ll have to agree with Klatt.