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For the ashes of his fathers
"And for the tender mother
Who dandled him to rest, And for the wife who nurses
His baby at her breast, And for the holy maidens
Who feed the eternal flame, — To save them from false Sextus
That wrought the deed of shame?
"Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
With all the speed ye may;
Will hold the foe in play.
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 Kamnian proud was he: "Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,
And keep the bridge with thee." And out spake strong Herminius, —
Of Titian blood was he: "I will abide on thy left side,
And keep the bridge with thee."
"Horatius," quoth the Consul,
"As thou sayest so let it be." And straight against that great array
Went forth 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.
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 Roman is to Roman
More hateful than a foe.
And the fathers grind the low.
In battle we wax cold;
Wherefore men fight not as they fought 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.
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 a great shout of laughter
And forth three chiefs came spurring
To earth they sprang, their swords they drew,
And lifted high their shields, and flew
To win the narrow way.
Herminius smote down Arans;
Lartius laid Oenus low; Right to the heart of Lausulus
Horatius sent a blow: "Lie there." he cried, "fell pirate!
No more, aghast and pale, From Ostia's walls the crowd shall mark
The track of thy destroying bark:
But now no sound of laughter
Was heard among the foes: A wild and wrathful clamor
From all the vanguard rose. Six spears' length from the entrance,
Halted that mighty mass, And for a space no man came forth
To win the narrow pass.
But, hark! the cry is Astur:
And lol 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;
And scorn was in his eye.
Stands savagely at bay; But will ye dare to follow.
If Astur clears the way?"
Then, whirling up his broadsword
He rushed against Horatius,
With shield and blade Horatius
The blow, though turned, came yet too nigh;
It missed his helm, but gashed his thigh.
The Tuscans raised a joyful cry
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, [out The good sword stood a handbreadth
Behind the Tuscan's head.
And the great lord of Luna
As falls on Mount Avernus
Far o'er the crashing forest
And the pale augurs, muttering low,
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."
Thrice looked he at the city;
Thrice looked he at the dead; And thrice came on in fury,
And thrice turned back in dread; And, white with fear and hatred,
scowled at the narrow way Where, wallowing in a pool of blood
The bravest Tuscans lay.
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.
And on the farther shore
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.
The furious river struggled hard,
And burst the curb, and bounded,
And whirling down, in fierce career,
Battlement, and plank, and pier,
Alone stood brave Horatius,
Thrice thirty thousand foes before,
"Down with him!" cried false
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 Palatums
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, 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,
And when above the surges
All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,
And even the ranks of Tuscany
But fiercely ran the current,
And fast his blood was flowing;
And heavy with his armor.
And spent with changing blows;
And oft they thought him sinking,
Never, I ween, did swimmer,
In such an evil case, Struggle through such a raging flood
Safe to the landing-place; But his limbs were borne up bravely
By the brave heart within, And our good father Tiber
Bare 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; Now round him throng the Fathers
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 they made a molten image.
And set it up on high —
To witness if I lie.
It stands in the Comitium,
Plain for all folk to see, — Horatius in his harness
Halting upon one knee;
In letters all of gold,
In the brave days of old.
Where did you come from, baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into here.
Where did you get those eyes so blue? Out of the sky as I came through.
What makes the light in them sparkle and spin? Some of the starry spikes left in.
Where did you get that little tear? I found it waiting when I got here.
What makes your forehead so smooth
and high? A soft hand stroked it as I went by.
What makes your cheek like a warm
white rose? I saw something better than any one
Whence that three-cornered smile of bliss?
Three angels gave me at once a kiss.
Where did you get this pearly ear? God spoke, and it came out to hear.
Where did you get those arms and hands?
Love made itself into bonds and bands.
Feet, whence did you come, you darling things?
From the same box as the cherub's wings.
How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew,
But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought about you, and so I am here.
O LASSIE AYONT THE HILL.
O Lassie ayont the hill!
Gin a body could be a thocht o' grace,
I'm sick o' my heid, and my han's
and my face,
0 lassie ayont the hill!
For gin ance I saw yer bonnie heid,
I wad be mysel' nae mair.
Slain by the arrows o' licht frae yer hair,
Killed by yer body and heid.
0 lassie ayont the hill, etc.
But gin ye loved me ever sae sma', For the sake o' my bonnie dame, Whan I cam' to life, as she gaed awa',
I could bide my body and name,
I might bide by mysel, the weary
same; Aye setting up its heid Till I turn frae the claes that cover
my frame, As gin they war roun' the deid. O lassie ayont the hill, etc.
Open the gates of the Temple; Spread branches of palm and of bay;
Let not the spirits of nature
Alone lieck the Conqueror's way. While Spring from her death-sleep arises,
And joyous His presence awaits, While morning's smile lights up the heavens, Open the Beautiful Gates.
He is here! The long watches are over,
The stone from the grave rolled away;
"We shall sleep," was the sigh of the midnight, "We shall rise!" is the song of today.
O Music! no longer lamenting.
On pinions of tremalom flams, Go soaring to meet the Beloved,
And swell the new song of His
The altar is snowy with blossoms,
On pillar and chancel are twining
Christ is risen! with glad lips we utter,
And far up the infinite height, Archangels the paean re-echo, And crown Him with Lilies of Light!
Only waiting till the shadows
Are a little longer grown, Only waiting till the glimmer
Of the day's last beam is flown; Till the night of earth is faded
From this heart once full of day, Till the dawn of Heaven is breaking
Through the twilight soft and gray.
Only waiting till the reapers
Have the last sheaf gathered home. For the summer-time hath faded,
And the autumn winds are come. Quickly, reapers! gather quickly,
The last ripe hours of my heart, For the bloom of life is withered,
And I hasten to depart.
Only waiting till the angels
Open wide the mystic gate, At whose feet I long have lingered,
Weary, poor, and desolate. Even now I hear their footsteps
And their voices far away — If they call me, I am waiting,
Only waiting to obey.
Only waiting till the shadows
Are a little longer grown — Only waiting till the glimmer
Of the day's last beam is flown. When from out the folded darkness
Holy, deathless stars shall rise, By whose light, my soul will gladly
Wing her passage to the skies.