« ZurückWeiter »
THE GAMBLER'S WIFE.
THE GAMBLER'S WIFE.-COATES.
ARK is the night! how dark! no light! no fire! Cold on the hearth the last faint sparks expire! Shivering she watches by the cradle side,
For him who pledged her love-last year a bride!
"Hark! 'tis his footstep!-no-'tis past: 'tis gone;
"Rest thee, my babe!-rest on!-'tis hunger's cry!
"Hush! 'tis the dice-box! Yes, he's there, he's there;
For this for this, he leaves me to despair!
Leaves love! leaves truth! his wife! his child! for what?
"Yet I'll not curse him! no! 'tis all in vain! 'Tis long to wait, but sure he'll come again! And I could starve and bless him, but for you,
My child!—his child!—Oh, fiend!" The clock strikes two.
"Hark! how the sign-board creaks! the blast howls by!
"Can he desert me thus? he knows I stay
"Nestle more closely, dear one, to my heart!
Thou'rt cold! thou'rt freezing! but we will not part!
Oh God! protect my child!" The clock strikes three.
They're gone! they're gone! the glimmering spark hath sped!
On the cold hearth outstretched in solemn rest,
HEAR me, you wrangling pirates, that fall out
In sharing that which you have pilfer'd from me;
A husband and a son thou owest to me,-
Decked in thy rights as thou art stalled in mine!
On thee, the troubler of the poor world's peace.
No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine,
LARS PORSENA of Clusium, by the Nine Gods he swore
To summon his array.
By the yellow Tiber was tumult and affright:
From all the spacious champaign to Rome men took their flight. A mile around the city the throng stopped up the ways;
A fearful sight it was to see through two long nights and days.
Now from the rock Tarpeian could the wan burghers spy
For every hour some horseman came with tidings of dismay.
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
For, since Janiculum is lost, naught else can save the town."
Just then a scout came flying, all wild with haste and fear:
The Consul's brow was sad, and the Consul's speech was low,
"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,
"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 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 on 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."
For Romans in Rome's quarrel spared neither land nor gold,
Meanwhile the Tuscan army, right glorious to behold,
Rank behind rank, like surges bright
Of a broad sea of gold.
Four hundred trumpets sounded a peal of warlike glee,
And spears advanced, and ensigns spread,
Where stood the dauntless Three.
The Three stood calm and silent, and looked upon the foes,
To earth they sprang, their swords they drew
To win the narrow pass:
Aunus from green Tifernum, Lord of the Hill of Vines;
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:
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
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.
But now no sound of laughter was heard amongst the foes.