[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

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.
But when they turned their faces,

And on the farther shore
Saw brave Horatius stand alone,

They would have crossed once more ;

Byt 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. 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

Lies amidst bones and blood.

But with a crash like thunder

Fell every loosened beam, And, like a dam, the mighty wreck

Lay right athwart the stream ; And a long shout of triumph

Rose from the walls of Rome, As to the highest turret-tops

Was splashed the yellow foam.

Was none who would be foremost

To lead such dire attack ; But those behind cried “ Forward !"

And those before cried “Back!”

And like a horse unbroken,

When first he feels the rein, The furious river struggled hard,

And tossed his tawny mane, And burst the curb, and bounded,

[ocr errors]

“Curse on him !” quoth false Sextus,

“ Will not the villain drown? But for this stay, ere close of day

We should have sacked the town !” "Heaven help him !” quoth Lars Porsena,

"And bring him safe to shore ; For such a gallant feat of arms

Was never seen before."

Rejoicing to be free;
And whirling down, in fierce career,
Battlement and plank and pier,

Rushed headlong to the sea.
Alone stood brave Horatius,

But constant still in mind, Thrice thirty thousand foes before,

And the broad flood behind. “Down with him!” cried false Sextus,

With a smile on his pale face ; Now yield thee," cried Lars Porsena,

“Now yield thee to our grace !” Round turned he, as not deigning

Those craven ranks to see ; Ndught spake he to Lars Porsena,

To Sextus naught spake he; But he saw on Palatinus

The white porch of his home; And he spake to the noble river

That rolls by the towers of Rome :

And now he feels the bottom;

Now on dry earth he stands ; Now round him throng the fathers

To press his gory hands;
And now, with shouts and clapping,

And noise of weeping loud,
He enters through the river-gate,

Borne by the joyous crowd.

They gave him of the corn-land,

That was of public right, As much as two strong oxen

Could plough from morn till night; And they made a molten image,

And set it up on high,
And there it stands unto this day

To witness if I lie.

“O Tiber ! Father Tiber!

To whom the Romans pray,
A Roman's life, a Roman's drms,

Take thou in charge this day !”.
So he spake, and, speaking, sheathed

The good sword by his side,
And, with his harness on his back,

Plunged headlong in the tide.

It stands in the comitium,

Plain for all folk to see, Horatius in his harness,

Halting upon one knee; And underneath is written,

In letters all of gold, How valiantly he kept the bridge

In the brave days of old.

And still his name sounds stirring

Unto the men of Rome, As the trumpet-blast that cries to them

To charge the Volscian home ;
And wives still pray to Juno

For boys with hearts as bold
As his who kept the bridge so well

In the brave days of old.

No sound of joy or sorrow

Was heard from either bank, But friends and foes in dumb surprise, With parted lips and straining eyes,

Stood gazing where he sank ; And when above the surges

They saw his crest appear, All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry, And even the ranks of Tuscany

Could scarce forbear to cheer. But fiercely ran the current,

Swollen high by months of rain, And fast his blood was flowing ;

And he was sore in pain, And heavy with his armor,

And spent with changing blows; And oft they thought him sinking,

But still again he rose. Never, I ween, did swimmer,

In such an evil case, Struggle through such a raging flood

Safe to the landing-place ; But his limbs were borne up bravely

By the brave heart within, And our good Father Tiber

Bare bravely up his chin.

And in the nights of winter,

When the cold north-winds blow, And the long howling of the wolves

Is heard amidst the snow; When round the lonely cottage

Roars loud the tempest's din, And the good logs of Algidus

Roar louder yet within ;

When the oldest cask is opened,

And the largest lamp is lit; When the chestnuts glow in the embers,

And the kid turns on the spit;

'T is because resentment ties

All the terrors of our tongues.

When young and old in circle

Around the firebrands close ; When the girls are weaving baskets,

And the lads are shaping bows; When the goodman mends his armor,

And trims his helmet's plume; When the good wife's shuttle merrily

Goes flashing through the loom ;
With weeping and with laughter

Still is the story told,
How well Horatius kept the bridge

In the brave days of old.

Rome shall perish — write that word

In the blood that she has spilt Perish, hopeless and abhorred,

Deep in ruin as in guilt. “Rome, for empire far renowned,

Tramples on a thousand states ; Soon her pride shall kiss the ground,

Hark! the Gaul is at her gutes !



“Other Romans shall arise,

Heedless of a soldier's name; Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize,

Harmony the path to fame. " Then the progeny that springs

From the forests of our land, Armed with thunder, clad with wings,

Shall a wider world command.

“Regions Cæsar never knew

Thy posterity shall sway ; Where his eagles never flew,

None invincible as they."

My voice is still for war. Gods ! can a Roman senate long debate Which of the two to choose, slavery or death ? No; let us rise at once, gird on our swords, And at the head of our remaining troops Attack the foe, break through the thick array Of his thronged legions, and charge home upon

him. Perhaps some arm, more lucky than the rest, May reach his heart, and free the world from bond

age. Rise ! Fathers, rise ! 'tis Rome demands yourhelp: Rise, and revenge her slaughtered citizens, Or share their fate! The corpse of half her senate Manures the fields of Thessaly, while we Sit here deliberating, in cold debates, If we should sacrifice our lives to honor, Or wear them out in servitude and chains. Rouse up, for shame! Our brothers of Pharsalia Point out their wounds, and cry aloud, — “To

battle!" Great Pompey's shade complains that we are slow, And Scipio's ghost walks unrevenged among us.


[blocks in formation]



When the British warrior queen,

Bleeding from the Roman rods, Sought, with an indignant mien,

Counsel of her country's gods,

(Hermann, or, as the Roman historians call him, Arminius, was a chieftain of the Cheruscans, a tribe in Northern Germany. After serving in Illyria, and there learning the Roman arts of warfare, he came back to his native country, and fought successfully for its independence. He defeated beside a defile near Detmold, in Wesphalia, the Roman legions under Varus, with a slaughter so mortify. ing that the Proconsul is said to have killed himself, and Augustus to have received the catastrophe with indecorous expressions of grief.]

Sage beneath the spreading oak

Sat the druid, hoary chief; Every burning word he spoke

Full of rage and full of grief. “ Princess ! if our aged eyes

Weep upon thy matchless wrongs,

HA! there comes he, with sweat, with blood of

And with dust of the fight all stained ! O, never

Saw I Hermann so lovely!
Never such fire in his eyes!

« VorigeDoorgaan »