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Then tenfold round the body,
The roar of battle rose,

Like the roar of a burning forest,
When a strong north wind blows.
Now backward, and now forward,
Rocked furiously the fray,
Till none could see Valerius,
And none wist where he lay.
For shivered arms and ensigns
Were heaped there in a mound,

And corpses stiff, and dying men

That writhed and gnawed the ground:

And wounded horses kicking,

And snorting purple foam:

Right well did such a couch befit

A Consular of Rome.


But north looked the Dictator;
North looked he long and hard;

And spake to Caius Cossus,

The Captain of his Guard:

"Caius, of all the Romans

Thou hast the keenest sight;

Say, what through yonder storm of dust

Comes from the Latian right?"


Then answered Caius Cossus,

"I see an evil sight;

The banner of proud Tusculum

Comes from the Latian right;



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Beneath the edge of the true sword
That kept the bridge so well.


"Herminius! Aulus greets thee; He bids thee come with speed, To help our central battle;

For sore is there our need.

There wars the youngest Tarquin,
And there the Crest of Flame,
The Tusculan Mamilius,

Prince of the Latian name.

Valerius hath fallen fighting

In front of our array:

And Aulus of the seventy fields

Alone upholds the day."


Herminius beat his bosom:

But never a word he spake.

He clapped his hand on Auster's mane:

He gave the reins a shake,

Away, away went Auster,

Like an arrow from the bow:

Black Auster was the fleetest steed

From Aufidus to Po.


Right glad were all the Romans

Who, in that hour of dread,

Against great odds bare up the war
Around Valerius dead,

When from the south the cheering

Rose with a mighty swell;




"Herminius comes, Herminius,

Who kept the bridge so well!”


Mamilius spied Herminius,
And dashed across the way.
"Herminius! I have sought thee

Through many a bloody day.
One of us two, Herminius,
Shall never more go home.

I will lay on for Tusculum,
And lay thou on for Rome!"


All round them paused the battle,

While met in mortal fray

The Roman and the Tusculan,

The horses black and grey.

Herminius smote Mamilius

Through breast-plate and through breast;

And fast flowed out the purple blood

Over the purple vest.

Mamilius smote Herminius

Through head-piece and through head; And side by side those chiefs of pride

Together fell down dead.

Down fell they dead together

In a great lake of gore;

And still stood all who saw them fall
While men might count a score.


Fast, fast, with heels wild spurning,

The dark-grey charger fled:




He burst through ranks of fighting men;
He sprang o'er heaps of dead.
His bridle far out-streaming,

His flanks all blood and foam,
He sought the southern mountains,
The mountains of his home.

The path was steep and rugged,

The wolves they howled and whined;
But he ran like a whirlwind up the pass
And he left the wolves behind.
Through many a startled hamlet
Thundered his flying feet;

He rushed through the gate of Tusculum,
He rushed up the long white street;
He rushed by tower and temple,

And paused not from his race

Till he stood before his master's door

In the stately market-place.

And straightway round him gathered
A pale and trembling crowd,
And when they knew him, cries of rage

Brake forth, and wailing loud:

And women rent their tresses

For their great prince's fall;

And old men girt on their old swords,

And went to man the wall.





But, like a graven image,

Black Auster kept his place, And ever wistfully he looked Into his master's face.

The raven mane that daily,

With pats and fond caresses,

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