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A LAY MADE ABOUT THE YEAR OF TUE CITY CCCLX.
1. LARS PORSENA of Clusium
By the Nine Gods he swore That the great house of Tarquin
Should suffer wrong no more. By the Nine Gods he swore it,
And named a trysting day, And bade his messengers ride forth, East and west and south and north,
To summon his array.
No hunter tracks the stag's green path
Up the Ciminian hill; Unwatched along Clitumnus
Grazes the milk-white steer; Unharmed the water-fowl may dip
In the Volsinian mere.
8. The harvests of Arretium
This year old men shall reap; This year young boys in Umbro
Shall plunge the struggling sheep; And in the vats or Luna,
This year, the must shall foam Round the white feet of laughing girls
Whose sires have marched to Rome.
2. East and west and south and north
The messengers ride fast,
Have heard the trumpet's blast. Shame on the false Etruscan
Who lingers in his home, When Porsena of Clusium
Is on the march for Rome.
Are pouring in amain
From many a fruitful plain;
Which, hid by beech and pine, Like an eagle's nest hangs on the crest of purple Apennine;
4. From lordly Volaterræ,
Where scowls the far-famed hold Piled by the hands of giants
For god-like kings of old; From seagirt Populonia,
Whose sentinels descry Sardinia's snowy mountain-tops Fringing the southern sky;
5. From the proud mart of Pisæ,
Queen of the western waves, Where ride Massilia's triremes
Heavy with fair-haired slaves; From where sweet Clanis wanders
Through corn, and vines, and flowers; From where Cortona lists to heaven Her diadem of towers.
6. Tall are the oaks whose acorns
Drop in dark Auser's rill; Fat are the stags that champ the boughs
or the Ciminian hill; Beyond all streams Clitumnus
Is to the herdsman dear;
Is heard by Auser's rill,
9. There be thirty chosen prophets,
The wisest of the land, Who alway by Lars Porsena
Both morn and evening stand: Evening and morn the Thirty
Have turned the verses o'er, Traced from the right on linen white By mighty seers of yore.
10. And with one voice the Thirty
Have their glad answer given: “Go forth, go forth, Lars Porsena,
Go forth, beloved of Heaven;
To Clusium's royal dome,
11. And now hath every city
Sent up her tale of men:
The horse are thousands ten.
A proud man was Lars Porsena
Were ranged beneath his cye, And many a banished Roman,
And many a stout ally; And with a mighty following,
To join the muster came The Tusculan Mamilius, Prince of the Latian name.
13. But by the yellow Tiber
Was tumult and affright: From all the spacious champaign
To Rome men took their flight. A mile around the city, The throng stopped up the ways;
21. And nearer fast and nearer
Doth the red whirlwind come ; And louder still and still more lond, From underneath that rolling cloud, Is heard the trumpet's war-note proud,
The trampling and the hum. And plainly and more plainly
Now through the gloom appears, Far to left and far to right, In broken gleams of dark-blue light, The long array of helmets bright, The long array of spears.
22. And plainly and more plainly,
Above that glimmering line, Now might ye see the banners
of twelve fair cities shine; But the banner of proud Clusium
Was highest of them all, The terror of the Umbrian,
The terror of the Gaul.
A fearful sight it was to see
And women great with child, And mothers sobbing over babes
That clung to them and smiled, And sick men borne in litters
High on the necks of slaves, And troops of sun-burned husbandmen With reaping-hooks and staves,
Laden with skins of wine,
And endless herds of kine,
That creaked beneath their weight Of corn-sacks and of household goods, Choked every roaring gate.
16. Now, from the rock Tarpeian,
Could the wan burghers spy The line of blazing villages
Red in the midnight sky.
They sat all night and day,
Have spread the Tuscan bands; Nor house, nor fence, nor dovecote,
In Crustumerium stands. Verbenna down to Ostia
Hath wasted all the plain; Astur hath stormed Janiculum, And the stout guards are slain.
There was no heart so bold,
When that ill news was told.
Up rose the Fathers all;
Before the River-gate ;
For musing or debate.
“ The bridge must straight go down;
20. Just then a scout came flying,
All wild with haste and fear:
Lars Porsena is here."
The Consul fixed his eye,
Bise fast along the sky.
Now might the burghers know,
Each warlike Lucumo.
On his fleet roan was seen ; And Astur of the fourfold shield, Girt with the brand none else may wield, Tolumnius with the belt of gold, And dark Verbenna from the hold By reedy Thrasymene.
24. Fast by the royal standard,
O’erlooking all the war,
Sate in his ivory car.
Prince of the Latian name;
That wrought the deed of shame.
But the Consul's brow was sad,
And the Consul's speech was low, And darkly looked he at the wall,
And darkly at the foe. “ Their van will be upon us
Before the bridge goes down; And if they once may win the bridge, What hope to save the town ?"
27. Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the gate :
Ari Fathers mixed with Commons
Seized hatchet, bar, and crow, And smote upon the planks above,
And loosed the props below.
35. Meanwhile the Tuscan army,
Righ: glorious to behold,
Of a broad sea of gold.
A peal of warlike glee, As that great host, with measured tread, And spears advanced, and ensigns spreac, Rolled slowly towards the bridge's head,
Where stood the dauntless Three.
36. The Three stood calm and silent,
And looked upon the foes,
From all the vanguard rose:
Before that mighty mass;
To win the narrow pass;
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
Than facing fearful odds,
Who dandled him to rest,
His baby at her breast,
Who feed the eternal flame,
With all the speed ye may;
Will hold the foe in play.
May well be stopped by three.
A Ramnian proud was he:
And keep the bridge with thee."
Or Titian blood was he:
“ As thou sayest, so let it be.”
Forth went the dauntless Three.
Spared neither land nor gold,
Then all were for the state;
And the poor man loved the great:
Then spoils were fairly sold:
More hateful than a foe,
And the Fathers grind the low.
In battle we wax cold;
Their harness on their backs,
To take in hand an axe;
Lord of the Hill of Vines;
Sicken in Ilva's mines;
Vassal in peace and war, Who led to light his Umbrian powers From that gray crag where, girt with towers The fortress of Nequinum lowers
O'er the pale waves of Nar.
38. Stout Lartius hurled down Aunus
Into the stream beneath ; Herminius struck at Seius,
And clove him to the teeth; At Picus brave Horatius
Darted one fiery thrust, And the proud Umbrian's gilded arms
Clashed in the bloody dusi.
39. Then Ocnus of Falerii
Rushed on the Roman Three; And Lausulus of Urgo
The rover of the sea; And Aruns of Volsinium,
Who slew the great wild boar, The great wild boar that had his den Amidst the reeds of Cosa's fen, And wasted fields and slaughtered med Along Albinia's shore.
40. Herminius smote down Aruns;
Lartius laid Ocnus low: Right to the heart of Lausulus
Horatius sent a blow. “ Lie there,” he cried, “ fell pirate'
No more, aghast and pale,
And thrice and four times tugged amalti,
Ere he wrenched out the steel. “ And see,” he cried “the welcome,
Fair guests, that waits you here! What noble Lucumo comes next
To taste our Roman cheer ?"
From Ostia's walls the crowd shail mark
Was heard amongst the foes.
From all the vanguard rose.
Halted that mighty mass,
And lo! the ranks divide;
Comes with his stately stride.
A smile serene and high; | He eyed the flinching Tuscans,
And scorn was in his eye. Quoth he, “ The she-wolf's litter
Stand savagely at bay: But will ye dare to follow, If Astur clears the way?
44. Then, whirling up his broadsword
With both hands to the height, He rushed against Horatius,
And smote with all his might. With shield and blade Horatius
Right deftly turned the blow. The blow, though turned, came yet too nigh; It missed his helm, but gashed his thigh : The Tuscans raised a joyful cry
To see the red blood flow.
48. But at his haughty challenge
A sullen murmur ran,
Along that glittering van.
Nor men of lordly race;
49. But all Etruria's noblest
Felt their hearts sink to see On the earth the bloody corpses,
In the path the dauntless Three: And, from the ghastly entrance
Where those bold Romans stood, All shrank, like boys who unaware, Ranging the woods to start a hare, Come to the mouth of the dark lair Where, growling low, a fierce old bear Lies amidst bones and blood.
To lead such dire attack;
And those before cried « Back !"
Wavers the deep array;
Strode out before the crowd;
And they gave him greeting loud. “Now welcome, welcome, Sextus!
Now welcome to thy home!
Thrice looked he on the dead. And thrice came on in fury,
And thrice turned back in dread;
Scowled at the narrow way
The bravest Tuscans lay.
45. He reeled, and on Herminius
He leaned one breathing-space; Then, like a wild cat mad with wounds,
Sprang right at Astur's face. Through teeth, and skull, and helmet,
So fierce a thrust he sped, The good sword stood a hand-breadth out
Behind the Tuscan's head.
46. And the great Lord of Luna
Fell at that deadly stroke, A. falls on Mount Alvernus
A thunder-smitten oak. Far o'er the crashing forest
The giant arms lie spread; And the pale augurs, muttering low,
Gaze on the blasted head.
53. Bat meanwhile axe and lever
Have manfully been plied, And now the bridge hangs tottering
Above the boiling tide. “Come back, come back, Horatius"
Loud cried the Fathers all, “Back, Lartius! back, Herminius!
Back, ere the ruin fall !"
47. On Astor's throat Horatius
Right firmiy vesed his heel,
54. Back darted Spurius Lartius;
Herminius darted back:
They felt the timbers crack.
And on the farther shore
Fell every loosened beam,
Lay right athwart the stream:
Rose from the walls of Rome,
When first he feels the rein, The furious river struggled hard,
And tossed his tawny mane;
Rejoicing to be free;
But constant still in mind; Thrice thirty thousand foes before,
And the broad flood behind. * Down with him !" cried false Sextus,
With a smile on his pale face. “ Now yield thee,” cried Lars Porsena, “Now yield thee to our grace.”
58. Round turned he, as not deigning
Those craven ranks to see; Naught spake he to Lars Porsena,
To Sextus naught spake he ;, But he saw on Palatinus
The white porch of his home; And he spake to the noble river That rolls by the towers of Rome.
To whom the Romans pray,
Take thou in charge this day!”
The good sword by his side,
Was heard from either bank ; But friends and foes in dumb surprise, With parted lips and straining eyes,
Stood gazing where he sank;
They saw his crest appear,
Could scarce forbear to cheer.