« السابقةمتابعة »
He eyed the flinching Tuscans,
And scorn was in his eye. Quoth he, “ The she-wolf's litter
Stand savagely at bay;
If Astur clears the way ?”
With both hands to the height,
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:
Sprang right at Astur's face;
So fierce a thrust he sped,
Behind the Tuscan's head.
And the great Lord of Luna
Fell at that deadly stroke, As falls on Mount Alvernus
A thunder-smitten oak.
The giant arms lie spread ;
Gaze on the blasted head.
On Astur's throat Horatius
Right firmly pressed his heel,
Ere he wrenched out the steel.
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 of 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 :
Where those bold Romans stood,
Lies amidst bones and blood.
Was none who would be foremost
To lead such dire attack;
And those before cried “ Back!”
Wavers the deep array ;
Dies fitfully away.
Stood out before the crowd ;
And they gave him greeting loud : “Now welcome, welcome, Sextus !
Now welcome to thy home!
Here lies the road to Rome.”
Thrice looked he at the city i
Thrice looked he at the dead ; And thrice came on in fury,
And thrice turned back in dread ;
Scowled at the narrow way
The bravest Tuscans lay.
But meanwhile ax and lever
Have manfully been plied ;
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:
They felt the timbers crack.
And on the farther shore
They would have crossed once more. But with a crash like thunder
Fell every loosened beam,
Lay right athwart the stream:
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,
Rejoicing to be free,
Rushed headlong to the sea.
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 nanght 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;
Take thou in charge this day!”
The good sword by his side,
Plunged headlong in the tide.
Was heard from either bank ; But friends and foes, in dumb surprise, With parted lips and straining eyes,
Stood gazing where he sank;
They saw his crest appear,
Could scarce forbear to cheer.
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.
In such an evil case,
Safe to the landing-place;
By the brave heart within, And our good father Tiber
Bore bravely up his chin. “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." And now he feels the bottom;
Now on dry earth he stands;
To press his gory hands;
And noise of weeping loud,
Borne by the joyous crowd.
That was of public right, As much as two strong oxen
Could plow from morn till night;
And set it up on high,
To witness if I lie.
Plain for all folk to see,
Halting upon one knee;
In letters all of gold,
In the brave days of old.
Unto the men of Rome,
To charge the Volscian home;
For boys with hearts as bold
In the brave days of old.
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,