Digby Geste

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I recently re-watched the 1939 version of Beau Geste, starring Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, and Robert Preston. It became one of my favorite films the first time I saw it, and not long after, my poetry class gave me an excellent opportunity to sing the praises of the loyalty and brotherly love that the story defends. If this poem doesn’t make sense to you, I recommend you find a copy of the movie and watch it.

In disbelief, he stares with searching eyes
Past corpses leaning strangely at their posts,
And then with horror he his brother spies,
Laid low in battle by the Tuareg host.
The sight confirms the thought he fears the most,
He falls upon the well-loved form, who sleeps
In Legion garb, face silent as a ghost,
Blue eyes forever closed in death’s dark deeps.
He clasps his hand caressingly, and grieving, weeps.

Pain overcome by loyalty and love,
He shoulders now his brother’s body dear.
Below the walls, secluded from above,
He lays him on a cot, a warrior’s bier,
With Markoff at the foot, an unvoiced jeer,
Then kerosene and bedding fuel the blaze.
The flag of France, a shroud to be revered,
Conceals his flesh and blood from future gaze.
A Viking’s funeral; Last Post he staunchly plays.

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