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The Three stood calm and silent,
And look'd upon the foes,
From all the vanguard rose :
Before that mighty mass ;
To win the narrow pass:
Aunus, from green Tifernum ,
Lord of the Hill of Vines;
Sicken in Ilva's 2 mines;
O’er the pale waves of Nar.
Stout Lartius hurled down Aunus
Into the stream beneath :
And clove him to the teeth:
Darted one fiery thrust;
| A town in Umbria, on the Tiber, now Città di Castello.
. Elba, famous for its mines of copper, and subsequently of iron, with which it supplied the Romans.
* Nequinum-modern Narni—an ancient Umbrian city, situ. ated on a lofty hill, commands the valley of the Nar. It was the birthplace of the Emperor Nero and of Pope John XVIII. The ruins of the magnificent bridge, built by Augustus, is its great object of interest.
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;
And those before cried « Back!”
Wavers the deep array;
Dies fitfully away.
But meanwhile axe 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 : And, as they pass’d, beneath their feet They felt the timbers crack.
But when they turn'd their faces,
And on the farther shore
They would have cross'd once more.
But with a crash like thunder
Fell every loosen'd beam,
Lay right athwart the stream:
Rose from the walls of Rome,
Was splash'd the yellow 1 foam.
And, like a horse unbroken,
When first he feels the rein,
And toss'd his tawny mane;
Rejoicing to be free;
Rush'd headlong to the sea.
Alone stood brave Horatius,
But constant still in mind;
And the broad flood behind.
With a smile on his pale face.
| The waters of the Tiber, from Perugia to the sea, are muddy and yellowish, a peculiarity which is expressed by the term flavus by the Roman poets. The current, as it enters the Mediterranean, retains its colour for a considerable distance from the shore, and contrasts with the generally blue tinge of the sea-water, with which it does not mix for some miles.
“ Now yield thee,” cried Lars ? Porsena,
“ Now yield thee to our grace.” Round turnd 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,
Take thou in charge this day!”.
The good sword by his side, And, with his harness on his back,
Plung'd 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 when he sank;
They saw his crest appear,
Could scarce forbear to cheer.
But fiercely ran the current,
Swoln high by months of rain; And fast his blood was flowing,
And he was sore in pain;
And heavy with his armour,
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,
Safe to the landing place:
By the brave heart within,
Bare bravely up his chin.
“ 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.
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 set it up on high,
To witness if I lie.