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Then out spake brave Horatius,

The Captain of the Gate:
“ To every man upon this earth

Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better

Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,

And the temples of his Gods ?

*

“ 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 strait 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 at thy right hand,

And keep the bridge with thee.”
And out spake strong Herminius;

Of Tatian blood was he:
I will abide on thy left side,

And keep the bridge with thee.”
“ Horatius," quoth the Consul,

As thou say'st, so let it be.”
And straight against that great array

Forth went the dauntless Three.
For Romans in Rome's quarrel

Spared neither land nor gold,
Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,

In the brave days of old. 3 Romulus divided the Romans into three tribes, called Rhamnenses, Tatienses, and Lucerenses.

66

Then none was for a party ;

Then all were for the state ;
Then the great man helped the poor,

And the poor man loved the great :
Then lands were fairly portioned ;

Then spoils were fairly sold: The Romans were like brothers

In the brave days of old.

*

Now while the Three were tightening

Their harness on their backs,
The Consul was the foremost man

To take in hand an axe ;
And Fathers mixed with Commons,

Seized hatchet, bar, and crow,
And smote upon the planks above,
And loosed the

props

below. Meanwhile the Tuscan army,

Right glorious to behold,
Came flashing back the noonday light,
Rank behind rank, like surges bright

Of a broad sea of gold.
Four hundred trumpets sounded

A peal of warlike glee,
As that great host, with measured tread,
And spears advanced, and ensigns spread,
Rolled slowly towards the bridge's head,

Where stood the dauntless Three.
The Three stood calm and silent,

And looked upon the foes,
And a great shout of laughter

From all the vanguard rose :
And forth three chiefs came spurring

Before that deep array,
To earth they sprang, their swords they drew,
And lifted high their shields, and flew

To win the narrow way;

Aunus, from green Tifernum,

Lord of the Hill of Vines ;
And Seius, whose eight hundred slaves

Sicken in Ilva's mines;
And Picus, long to Clusium
Vassal in

peace

and

war, Who led to fight his Umbrian powers From that grey 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 : Herminius struck at Seius,

And clove him to the teeth :
At Picus brave Horatius

Darted one fiery thrust;
And the proud Umbrian's gilded arms

Clashed in the bloody dust.

*

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!”

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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. 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 * Porsenay

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

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

To Sextus nought 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 :
Oh, 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;

4 Etruscan for "mighty chief.”

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