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Four hundred trumpets sounded

A peal of warlike glee,
As that great host, with measured tread,
And spears advanced and ensigns spread,
Rolled slowly towards the bridge's head,

Where stood the dauntless three.


The three stood calm and silent,

And looked upon the foes,
And a great shout of laughter

From all the vanguard rose;
And forth three chiefs came spurring

Before that deep array ;
To earth they sprang, their swords they drew,
And lifted high their shields, and few

To win the narrow way.


Aunus, from green Tifernum,

Lord of the hill of vines ;
And Seius, whose eight hundred slaves

Sicken in Ilva's mines;
And Picus, long to Clusium

Vassal in peace and war, Who led to fight his Umbrian powers From that gray crag where, girt with towers, The fortress of Nequinum lowers

O’er the pale waves of Nar.


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 dust.


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 men,

Along Albinia's shore.


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, From Ostia's walls the crowd shall mark

The track of thy destroying bark; No more Campania's hinds shall ily To woods and caverns, when they spy

Thy thrice-accursed sail !"


But now no sound of laughter

Was heard among the foes ;
A wild and wrathful clamor

From all the vanguard rose.
Six spears' lengths from the entrance

Halted that deep array,
And for a space no man came forth

To win the narrow way.


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 thighThe 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, As 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.

On Astur's throat Horatius

Right firmly pressed his heel,
And thrice and four times tugged amain,

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 with 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.

XLIX. 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 a wood to start a hare,
Come to the mouth of the dark lair
Where, growling low, a fierce old bear

Cies 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 at the city ;

Thrice looked he at 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,

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