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Though white as Mount Soracte,
When winter nights are long,

His beard flowed down o'er mail and belt,
His heart and hand were strong:
Under his hoary eyebrows

Still flashed forth quenchless rage,
And, if the lance shook in his gripe,
'Twas more with hate than age.
Close at his side was Titus

On an Apulian steed,
Titus, the youngest Tarquin,
Too good for such a breed.


Now on each side the leaders

Give signal for the charge;
And on each side the footmen
Strode on with lance and targe;
And on each side the horsemen

Struck their spurs deep in gore;
And front to front the armies
Met with a mighty roar:
And under that great battle

The earth with blood was red;
And, like the Pomptine fog at morn,
The dust hung overhead;
And louder still and louder

Rose from the darkened field
The braying of the war-horns,

The clang of sword and shield, The rush of squadrons sweeping Like whirlwinds o'er the plain, The shouting of the slayers,

And screeching of the slain.





False Sextus rode out foremost:
His look was high and bold;
His corslet was of bison's hide,

Plated with steel and gold.
As glares the famished eagle

From the Digentian rock
On a choice lamb that bounds alone
Before Bandusia's flock,
Herminius glared on Sextus,

And came with eagle speed,
Herminius on black Auster,

Brave champion on brave steed;
In his right hand the broadsword

That kept the bridge so well,
And on his helm the crown he won
When proud Fidenæ fell.
Woe to the maid whose lover

Shall cross his path to-day! False Sextus saw, and trembled, And turned, and fled away.

As turns, as flies, the woodman

In the Calabrian brake,

When through the reeds gleams the round eye

Of that fell speckled snake;

So turned, so fled, false Sextus,
And hid him in the rear,
Behind the dark Lavinian ranks,
Bristling with crest and spear.


But far to north Ebutius,
The Master of the Knights,




Gave Tubero of Norba

To feed the Porcian kites.
Next under those red horse-hoofs
Flaccus of Setia lay;
Better had he been pruning

Among his elms that day.
Mamilius saw the slaughter,

And tossed his golden crest,
And towards the Master of the Knights
Through the thick battle pressed.
Æbutius smote Mamilius

So fiercely on the shield

That the great lord of Tusculum
Well nigh rolled on the field.
Mamilius smote Æbutius,

With a good aim and true,
Just where the neck and shoulder join,

And pierced him through and through;
And brave Æbutius Elva

Fell swooning to the ground: But a thick wall of bucklers

Encompassed him around. His clients from the battle

Bare him some little space,
And filled a helm from the dark lake,
And bathed his brow and face;
And when at last he opened

His swimming eyes to light,
Men say, the earliest word he spake
Was, "Friends, how goes the fight?"


But meanwhile in the centre

Great deeds of arms were wrought;




There Aulus the Dictator
And there Valerius fought.
Aulus with his good broadsword
A bloody passage cleared

To where, amidst the thickest foes,
He saw the long white beard.
Flat lighted that good broadsword
Upon proud Tarquin's head.

He dropped the lance: he dropped the reins:
He fell as fall the dead.

Down Aulus springs to slay him,
With eyes like coals of fire:
But faster Titus hath sprung down,
And hath bestrode his sire.
Latian captains, Roman knights,

Fast down to earth they spring,
And hand to hand they fight on foot
Around the ancient king.

First Titus gave tall Cæso

A death wound in the face; Tall Cæso was the bravest man Of the brave Fabian race: Aulus slew Rex of Gabii,

The priest of Juno's shrine: Valerius smote down Julius,

Of Rome's great Julian line; Julius, who left his mansion

High on the Velian hill,

And through all turns of weal and woe
Followed proud Tarquin still.

Now right across proud Tarquin
A corpse was Julius laid;

And Titus groaned with rage and grief,
And at Valerius made.





Valerius struck at Titus,

And lopped off half his crest; But Titus stabbed Valerius

A span deep in the breast.
Like a mast snapped by the tempest,
Valerius reeled and fell.
Ah! woe is me for the good house
That loves the people well!
Then shouted loud the Latines;
And with one rush they bore
The struggling Romans backward
Three lances' length and more:
And up they took proud Tarquin,

And laid him on a shield,
And four strong yeomen bare him,
Still senseless, from the field.


But fiercer grew the fighting
Around Valerius dead;

For Titus dragged him by the foot,
And Aulus by the head.

"On, Latines, on!" quoth Titus,
"See how the rebels fly!"
"Romans, stand firm!" quoth Aulus,
"And win this fight or die!
They must not give Valerius
To raven and to kite;

For aye Valerius loathed the wrong,
And aye upheld the right:

And for your wives and babies
In the front rank he fell.

Now play the men for the good house
That loves the people well!"





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