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A fearful sight it was to see
Through two long nights and days.


For aged folk on crutches,

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,


And droves of mules and asses

Laden with skins of wine,.

And endless flocks of goats and sheep,
And endless herds of kine,
And endless trains of wagons

That creaked beneath their weight Of corn-sacks and of household goods, Choked every roaring gate.


Now, from the rock Tarpeian,
Could the wan burghers spy

The line of blazing villages
Red in the midnight sky.
The Fathers of the City,

They sat all night and day,

For every hour some horseman came With tidings of dismay.


To eastward and to westward

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. 18.

I wis, in all the Senate,

There was no heart so bold,
But sore it ached, and fast it beat,
When that ill news was told.
Forthwith up rose the Consul,
Up rose the Fathers all;

In haste they girded up their gowns,
And hied them to the wall.


They held a council standing
Before the River-gate;

Short time was there, ye well may guess,
For musing or debate.

Out spoke the Consul roundly:

"The bridge must straight go down; For, since Janiculum is lost, Naught else can gave the town.”


Just then a scout came flying,

All wild with haste and fear:

"To arms! to arms! Sir Consul; Lars Porsena is here."

On the low hills to westward

The Consul fixed his eye, And saw the swarthy storm of dust Bise fast along the sky.


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.


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.


And plainly and more plainly

Now might the burghers know,
By port and vest, by horse and crest,
Each warlike Lucumo.

There Cilnius of Arretium

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.


Fast by the royal standard,
O'erlooking all the war,
Lars Porsena of Clusium
Sate in his ivory car.

By the right wheel rode Mamilius,
Prince of the Latian name;

And by the left false Sextus,

That wrought the deed of shame.


But when the face of Sextus

Was seen among the foes, A yell that rent the firmament From all the town arose.

On the house-tops was no woman

But spate towards him and hissed; No child but screamed out curses, And shook its little fist.


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?"


Then out spake brave Horatius, The Captain of the gate:

"To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late. And how can man die better Than facing fearful odds, For the ashes of his fathers, And the temples of his Gods,


"And for the tender mother
Who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses
His baby at her breast,
And for the holy maidens

Who feed the eternal flame,
To save them from false Sextus
That wrought the deed of shame?


"Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,

With all the speed ye may; I, with two more to help me, Will hold the foe in play. In yon strait path a thousand

May well be stopped by three. Now, who will stand on either hand, And keep the bridge with me?" 30.

Then out spake Spurius Lartius,
A Ramnian proud was he:
"Lo, I will stand on thy right hand,
And keep the bridge with thee."
And out spake strong Herminius,
Of Titian blood was he:
"I will abide on thy left side,
And keep the bridge with thee."


"Horatius," quoth the Consul,

"As thou sayest, so let it be." And straight against that great array Forth went the dauntless Three. For Romans in Rome's quarrel Spared neither land nor gold, Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life, In the brave days of old.


Then none was for a party;

Then all were for the state; Then the great man helped the poor, And the poor man loved the great: Then lands were fairly portioned; Then spoils were fairly sold: The Romans were like brothers In the brave days of old.


Now Roman is to Roman

More hateful than a foe,

And the Tribunes beard the high, And the Fathers grind the low. As we wax hot in faction,

In battle we wax cold; Wherefore inen fight not as they fought In the brave days of old.


Now, while the Three were tightening
Their harness on their backs,
The Consul was the foremost man
To take in hand an axe:

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From Ostia's walls the crowd shall mark
The track of thy destroying bark.
No more Campania's hinds shall fly
To woods and caverns when they spy
Thy thrice accursed sail." -


But now no sound of laughter
Was heard amongst the foes.
A wild and wrathful clamour

From all the vanguard rose.
Six spears' lengths from the entrance
Halted that mighty mass,

And for a space no man came forth To win the narrow pass.


But hark! the cry is Astur:

And lo! the ranks divide; And the great Lord of Luna -Comes with his stately stride. Upon his ample shoulders

Clangs loud the fourfold shield, And in his hand he shakes the brand Which none but he can wield.


He smiled on those bold Romans
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?"

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.


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.


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.


Du Astur's throat Horatius

Right firmly ussed his heel,

And thrice and four times tugged amair, 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?"


But at his haughty challenge
A sullen murmur ran,

Mingled of wrath, and shame, and dread,
Along that glittering van.

There lacked not men of prowess,
Nor men of lordly race;

For all Etruria's noblest
Were round the fatal place.


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.


Was none who would be foremost
To lead such dire attack;
But those behind cried “Forward!"
And those before cried “Back !"
And backward now and forward

Wavers the deep array;
And on the tossing sea of steel,
To and fro the standards reel;
And the victorious trumpet-peal
Dies fitfully away.


Yet one man for one moment

Strode out before the crowd; Well known was he to all the Three, And they gave him greeting loud, "Now welcome, welcome, Sextus!

Now welcome to thy home!

Why dost thou stay, and turn away! Here lies the road to Rome."


Thrice looked he on the city:

Thrice looked he on the dead.

And thrice came on in fury,

And thrice turned back in dread; And, white with fear and hatred, Scowled at the narrow way Where, wallowing in a pool of blood The bravest Tuscans lay.


But 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!"


Back darted Spurius Lartius;
Herminius darted back:

And, as they passed, beneath their feet
They felt the timbers crack.
But when they turned their faces,
And on the farther shore
Saw brave Horatius stand alone,

They would have crossed once more.


But with a crash like thunder

Fell every loosened beam, And, like a dam, the mighty wreck Lay right athwart the stream: And a long shout of triumph Rose from the walls of Rome, As to the highest turret-tops Was splashed the yellow foam.


And like a horse unbroken

When first he feels the rein, The furious river struggled hard, And tossed his tawny mane; And burst the curb, and bounded, Rejoicing to be free;

And whirling down, in fierce career, Battlement, and plank, and pier, Rushed headlong to the sea.


Alone stood brave Horatius,
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."


Round turned he, as not deigning Those craven ranks to see; Naught spake he to Lars Porsena, To Sextus naught spake he;1 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.


"Oh, Tiber! father Tiber!

To whom the Romans pray,
A Roman's life, a Roman's arms,
Take thou in charge this day!"
Bo he spake, and speaking sheathed
The good sword by his side,
And, with his harness on his back,
Plunged headlong in the tide.

No sound of joy or sorrow

Was heard from either bank;

But friends and foes in dumb surprise,
With parted lips and straining eyes,
Stood gazing where he sank;
And when above the surges

They saw his crest appear,

All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,
And even the ranks of Tuscany

Could scarce forbear to cheer.
Vor. IV.-69

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