Martin sat young upon his bed
A budding cenobite,
Said ‘Though I hold the principles
Of Christian life be right,
I cannot grow from them alone
I must go out to fight.’

He travelled hard, he travelled far,
The light began to fail.
‘Is not this act of mine,’ he said,
‘A cowardly betrayal,
Should I not peg my nature down
With a religious nail?’

Wind scudded on the marshland
And clanking at his side
The sword soon clattered under hail:
What could he do but ride?—
There was not shelter for a dog,
The garrison far ahead.

A ship that moves on darkness
He rode across the plain,
When a brawny beggar started up
Who pulled at his rein
And leant dripping with sweat and water
Upon the horse’s mane.

He glared into Martin’s eyes
Wild rather than bold,
His hair sent rivers down his spine,
Like a fowl plucked to be sold
His flesh was grey.    Martin said—
‘What, naked in this cold?

‘I have no food to give you,
Money would be a joke.’
Pulling his new sword from the sheath
He took his soldier’s cloak
And cut it into two equal parts
With a single stroke

Grabbing one to his shoulders,
Pinning it with his chin,
The beggar dived into the dark,
And soaking to the skin
Martin went on slowly
Until he reached an inn.

One candle on the wooden table,
The food and drink were poor,
The woman hobbled off, he ate.
Then casually before
The table stood the beggar as
If he had used the door.