'Twas on a corner street in Rome a beggar man did sit
His hair and beard were long and matted, his eyes were narrow slits
His left shoulder bore the mark of marred and torn flesh
However, there was a proud air in the way he held his chest
As he sat there on that corner, he saw my gaze on him
"Come closer, come closer," he said,"come closer, young man."
I approached the old man with caution, my eyes scanning around
He startled me when he spoke,"I've seen many a man's blood shed on this very ground."
This very phrase sent a chill down my spine
However, I was filled with wonder. It must have shown in my eyes
For the man continued to speak as if he were young again
Of his life as a general under Cesar's mighty hand
"I was a leader by nature, a farmer by hand
And I led Rome's faithful armies, defending this very land
'Till at last my old friend passed and another Cesar took his place
I must say without regret that he was an utter disgrace
For he did not care for his father's wishes and sought to have me killed
Alas, in the frosty morning air, the soldiers, their swords they could not wield
Sold and bought as a slave, trained as a gladiator
I was forced to fight for entertainment, an insult to my nature
But my fellow slaves grew trusting, they became my faithful men
And in the arena, I became a general once again"
The man stopped speaking, seemingly lost in thought
To touch him or speak to him, I thought it best I not
I moved to get up and leave this thoughtful man alone
He startled me again when he asked, "Where do you call home?"
Without waiting for a reply, he began to speak again
"Everything," he said, "everything changes, young man."
"Nothing ever stays the same; we must all move on."
With those last words, a wistful smile, and a brush of wind, he was gone
Where an old man once sat, there was a not to be read
Addressed to 'Young Man' this is what it said,
'I died in the arena, that is the standard
But I died a general.