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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 dovecot,

In Crustumerium stands. Verbenna down to Ostia

Hath wasted all the plain; Astur hath stormed Janiculum,

And the stont guards are slain.


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 spake the consul roundly:

“The bridge must straight go down; For, since Janiculum is lost,

Nought else can save 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

Rise fast along the sky.

And nearer fast and nearer

Doth the red whirlwind come;
And louder still, and still more loud,
From underneath that rolling cloud,
Is heard the trumpets' 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 feet 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

Sat 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 housetops was no woman

But spat toward 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 hewan 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 straight path a thousand

a May well be stopped by three. Now who will stand on either hand,

And keep the bridge with me?"


Then out spake Spurius Lartius —

A Ramnian proud was he: “Lo, I will stand at 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.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

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;
In the brave days of old.


The Romans were like brothers

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 men 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;

Seized hatchet, bar, and crow,

And fathers, mixed with commons,

And smote upon the planks above,

And loosed the props below.

Meanwhile the Tuscan army,

Right glorious to behold,
Came flashing back the noonday light,
Rank behind

rank, like surges bright Of a broad sea of gold.

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