Imagens das páginas
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But, hark! the cry is Astur:

And lo! the ranks divide ; And the great lord of Luna Comes with his stately stride. Upon his ample shoulders

Clangs loud the fourfold shield, And in his hand he shakes the brand Which none but he can wield.

He smiled on those bold Romans,
A smile serene and high;
He eyed the flinching Tuscans,
And scorn was in his eye.
Quoth he, "The she-wolf's litter
Stand savagely at bay;
But will ye dare to follow,
If Astur clears the way?"

Then, whirling up his broadsword
With both hands to the height,
He rushed against Horatius,
And smote with all his might.
With shield and blade Horatius

Right deftly turned the blow.

The blow, though turned, came yet too nigh;
It missed his helm, but gashed his thigh.
The Tuscans raised a joyful cry

To see the red blood flow.

He reeled, and on Herminius

He leaned one breathing-space, Then, like a wild-cat mad with wounds, Sprang right at Astur's face. Through teeth and skull and helmet So fierce a thrust he sped,

The good sword stood a handbreadth out Behind the Tuscan's head.

And the great lord of Luna

Fell at that deadly stroke, As falls on Mount Avernus A thunder-smitten oak. Far o'er the crashing forest

The giant arms lie spread; And the pale augurs, muttering low Gaze on the blasted head.

On Astur's throat Horatius

Right firmly pressed his heel,

And thrice and four times tugged amain,
Ere he wrenched out the steel.

And "See," he cried, "the welcome,
Fair guests, that waits you here!
What noble Lucumo comes next
To taste our Roman cheer?"

But 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 the woods to start a hare,
Come to the mouth of the dark lair
Where, growling low, a fierce old bear
Lies amidst bones and blood.

Was none who would be foremost

To lead such dire attack;
But those behind cried "Forward!"
And those before cried "Back!"
And backward now and forward

Wavers the deep array;
And on the tossing sea of steel
To and fro the standards reel,
And the victorious trumpet-peal
Dies fitfully away.

Yet one man for one moment

Strode out before the crowd; Well known was he to all the three, And they gave him greeting loud : "Now welcome, welcome, Sextus !

Now welcome to thy home! Why dost thou stay, and turn away? Here lies the road to Rome."

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But when they turned their faces,

And on the farther shore

Saw brave Horatius stand alone,

They would have crossed once more;

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.

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, 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;
Naught 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 :

"O Tiber! Father Tiber!

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

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

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Rome, Florence. Venice-noble, fair and quaint,
They reign in robes of magic round me here;
But fading, blotted, dim, a picture faint,
With spell more silent, only pleads a tear.
Plead not! Thou hast my heart, O picture dim!

I see the fields, I see the autumn hand

Of God upon the maples! Answer Him
With weird, translucent glories, ye that stand
Like spirits in scarlet and in amethyst!

I see the sun break over you: the mist
On hills that lift from iron bases grand
Their heads superb!-the dream, it is my
native land.


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