Wednesday Words: Horatius Part III

More Horatius by Thomas Babbington Macaulay. Parts XXI-XXVII

And nearer fast and nearer
 Doth the red whirlwind come;
 And louder still and still more loud,
 From underneath that rolling cloud,
 Is heard the trumpet's war-note proud,
 The trampling, and the hum.
 And plainly and more plainly
 Now through the gloom appears,
 Far to left and far to right,
 In broken gleams of dark-blue light,
 The long array of helmets bright,
 The long array of spears.

And plainly and more plainly,
 Above that glimmering line,
 Now might ye see the banners
 Of twelve fair cities shine;
 But the banner of proud Clusium
 Was highest of them all,
 The terror of the Umbrian,
 The terror of the Gaul.

And plainly and more plainly
 Now might the burghers know,
 By port and vest, by horse and crest,
 Each warlike Lucumo.
 There Cilnius of Arretium
 On his fleet roan was seen;
 And Astur of the four-fold shield,
 Girt with the brand none else may wield,
 Tolumnius with the belt of gold,
 And dark Verbenna from the hold
 By reedy Thrasymene.

Fast by the royal standard,
 O'erlooking all the war,
 Lars Porsena of Clusium
 Sat in his ivory car.
 By the right wheel rode Mamilius,
 Prince of the Latian name;
 And by the left false Sextus,
 That wrought the deed of shame.

But when the face of Sextus
 Was seen among the foes,
 A yell that rent the firmament
 From all the town arose.
 On the house-tops was no woman
 But spat towards him and hissed,
 No child but screamed out curses,
 And shook its little fist.

But the Consul's brow was sad,
 And the Consul's speech was low,
 And darkly looked he at the wall,
 And darkly at the foe.
 'Their van will be upon us
 Before the bridge goes down;
 And if they once may win the bridge,
 What hope to save the town?'

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.

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