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Charging an army, while
All the world wondered:
Plunged in the batt'ry smoke,
Reeled from the sabre stroke
Shattered and sundered :
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them,
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Left of Six Hundred.
When can their glory fade?
Oh! the wild charge they made!
Honour the charge they made!
Noble Six Hundred !
XVIII.-SCENE BEFORE THE SIEGE OF CORINTH.
Corinth, a city famous in ancient times, is situated on the Gulf of Lepanto. The citadel is noted for its great height above the plain. The siege spoken of in the poem took place in 1715 A.D.
THE night is past, and shines the sun
Hark to the trump and the drum,
And the mournful sound of the barbarous horn,
And the flap of the banners that flit as they're borne,
Alp at their head; his right arm is bare,
The Khan and the Pachas are all at their post;
A priest at her altars—a chief in her halls—
Up to the skies with that wild halloo !"
On the stately buffalo,
Though with fiery eyes and angry roar,
And hoofs that stamp and horns that gore,
He tramples on earth, or tosses on high
The foremost who rush on his strength but to die ;
Thus against the wall they went,
Thus the first were backward bent :
Even as they fell, in files they lay,
Like the mower's grass at the close of day,
When his work is done on the levelled plain,—
Such was the fall of the foremost slain.
As the spring-tides with heavy plash,
Huge fragments, sapped by the ceaseless flow,
Like the avalanche's snow
On the Alpine vales below
Thus at length, out-breathed and worn,
Charge of the Moslem multitude.
In firmness they stood and in masses they fell,
Hand to hand and foot to foot:
From the point of encountering blade to the hilt
But the rampart is won-and the spoil begun-
That splash in the blood of the slippery street!
XIX.-SCENE AFTER THE SIEGE OF CORINTH.
ALP wandered on along the beach,
Till within the range of a carbine's reach
Of the leaguered wall; but they saw him not,
Or how could he 'scape from the hostile shot?
Did traitors lurk in the Christians' hold?
Were their hands grown stiff, or their hearts waxed cold?
I know not, in sooth; but from yonder wall
There flashed no fire and there hissed no ball,
Though he stood beneath the bastion's frown
That flanked the sea-ward gate of the town;
Though he heard the sound, and could almost tell
The sullen words of the sentinel,
As his measured step on the stone below
Clanked, as he paced it to and fro :
And he saw the lean dogs beneath the wall
Hold o'er the dead their carnival,
Gorging and growling o'er carcass and limb;
They were too busy to bark at him!
From a Tartar's skull they had stripped the flesh,
As ye peel the fig when its fruit is fresh ;
And their white tusks crunched o'er the whiter skull,
As it slipped through their jaws when their edge grew dull, As they lazily mumbled the bones of the dead,
When they scarce could rise from the spot where they fed; So well had they broken a lingering fast
With those who had fallen for that night's repast.
And Alp knew, by the turbans that rolled on the sand,
The foremost of these were the best of his band.
The scalps were in the wild dog's maw,
The hair was tangled round his jaw.
But close by the shore, on the edge of the gulf,
Who had stolen from the hills, but kept away,
Alp turned him from the sickening sight:
But he better could brook to behold the dying,
And Honour's eye on daring deeds!
But when all is past, it is humbling to tread
And see worms of the earth and fowls of the air,
All regarding man as their prey,
All rejoicing in his decay!
XX.-LAY OF VIRGINIA.
Appius Claudius, one of the Decemviri, had claimed, as his slave, Virginia, daughter of the plebeian Virginius; but the girl's father, wishing to save her from the ignominy which awaited her, and seeing no hope of redress by legal process, stabbed her in despair, as described in the lay. Icilius, the tribune, had been betrothed to the murdered maiden. The time is 449 B.C.
OVER the Alban mountains the light of morning broke; From all the roofs of the Seven Hills curled the thin wreaths of smoke:
The city gates were opened; the Forum, all alive
With buyers and with sellers, was humming like a hive: Blithely on brass and timber the craftsman's stroke was ringing,
And blithely o'er her panniers the market-girl was singing; And blithely young Virginia came smiling from her homeAh! woe for young Virginia, the sweetest maid in Rome. With her small tablets in her hand, and her satchel on her
Forth she went bounding to the school, nor dreamed of shame or harm.
She crossed the Forum shining with the stalls in alleys
And just had reached the very spot whereon I stand this day,
When up the varlet Marcus came; not such as when, ere
He crouched behind his patron's heels, with the true client
He came with lowering forehead, swollen features, and clenched fist,
And strode across Virginia's path, and caught her by the wrist.
Hard strove the frighted maiden, and screamed with look
And at her scream from right and left the folk came running