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But will ye dare to follow,

If Astur clears the way ?”.


44 Then, whirling up his broadsword

With both hands to the height, He rushed against Horatius,

And smote with all his might. With shield and blade Horatius

Right deftly turned the blow. 370 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;
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, 380 The good sword stood a handbreadth out

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.
Far o'er the crashing forest

The giant arms lie spread ;
And the pale augurs, muttering low,

Gaze on the blasted head.

53 But meanwhile axe and lever

Have manfully been plied ; 445 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!”


54 Back darted Spurius Lartius;

Herminius darted back: And, as they passed, beneath their feet

They felt the timbers crack.
455 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, 465 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.
480" 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 naught spake he;
But he saw on Palatinus

The white porch of his home;
490 And he spake to the noble river

That rolls by the towers of Rome.

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66 O Tiber! father Tiber!

To whom the Romans pray,

A Roman's life, a Roman's arms, 488. Mons Palatinus survives in the Palatine Hill of modern Rome.


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.

500 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; 505 And when above the surges

They saw his crest appear,
All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,
And even the ranks of Tuscany

Could scarce forbear to cheer.

510 But fiercely ran the current,

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.


Never, I ween, did swimmer,

In such an evil case, 520 Struggle through such a raging flood

Safe to the landing-place:
But his limbs were borne up bravely

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“Curse on him!” quoth false Sextus ;

66 Will not the villain drown ?
But for this stay, ere close of day

We should have sacked the town!”
530“ 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 now, with shouts and clapping,

And noise of weeping loud,
540 He enters through the River-Gate,

Borne by the joyous crowd.

They gave him of the corn-land,

That was of public right, 525. Macaulay notes as passages in English literature which he had in mind when he wrote this : “Our ladye bare upp her chinne."

Ballad of Childe Waters. “Never heavier man and horse Stemmed a midnight torrent's force ;

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Yet, through good heart and our Lady's grace,
At length he gained the landing-place."

Lay of the Last Minstrel.

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