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-IncarnationBy Robert ArselleI have drank from the cupAnd seen the flares of dawn;I have lived in hellAnd known the devil’s spawn.
Down through the ages long,I have danced on the brinks of death;Fate has had its flingWith 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 deedsAnd felt the evil handThat leads us on to a reckless endAnd guards the lonely tombs of men.If you will come with me to delveFar back in the hidden past,I will show you life since Time beganTo play with the sands of chance.For I have known a million kingsWho have lived with greed and lust,And billions of others who have clutchedAt vile perdition’s dust.Since the age, when years ago,I called the trees my home,Down through the years when progress loomedAnd we lashed the ocean’s foam.
Far happier in the primitiveThan in the years ahead,When life changed to nothingElse 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 heartsUntil the years of changeWe had gained the heights of Paradise;And we knew more of GodThan in the bloody years when chanceForced us to rule the sod.Since those mad years when first we gropedIn a land else than our birth,We have ever known the evil hissThat has rocked the world in mirth.Laughter harsh as the sibilant windThat slashes the frozen wasteAnd carries us down to the pits of deathThat we may know the tasteThat follows on the sharpened tartBitterness brings to the human heart.So for years I have fought and diedOnly to live again.I have seen the blades of blood mad hordesCrash in the battle din.I have known all the fields of carnageFrom 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 slaughterThat the crowns of kings have brought.I have dared the golden haremsOf the ancient Persian line,I have known the suns of CarthageAnd I’ve drank the Aztec wine.I have lived with keen enjoymentIn the company of sheiks,And I’ve scaled with dissolutenessDebauchery’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 TamerlaneI’ve met defeat and death,So life will always be for meUntil the final breathDies 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.