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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 :
To see the red blood flow.
He leaned one breathing-space;
Sprang right at Astur's face.
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.
The giant arms lie spread ;
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.
And on the farther shore
They would have crossed once more.
Fell every loosened beam,
Lay right athwart the stream ;
Rose from the walls of Rome, 465 As to the highest turret-tops
Was splashed the yellow foam.
When first he feels the rein,
The furious river struggled hard,
And tossed his tawny mane,
Rejoicing to be free,
Rushed headlong to the sea.
But constant still in mind;
And the broad flood behind.
With a smile on his pale face.
“Now yield thee to our grace."
Those craven ranks to see;
To Sextus naught spake he;
The white porch of his home;
That rolls by the towers of Rome.
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!”
The good sword by his side,
Plunged headlong in the tide.
Was heard from either bank ;
Stood gazing where he sank; 505 And when above the surges
They saw his crest appear,
Could scarce forbear to cheer.
Swollen high by months of rain :
And he was sore in pain,
And spent with changing blows :
But still again he rose.
In such an evil case, 520 Struggle through such a raging flood
Safe to the landing-place:
66 Will not the villain drown ?
We should have sacked the town!”
“And bring him safe to shore ;
Was never seen before."
Now on dry earth he stands;
To press his gory hands;
And noise of weeping loud,
Borne by the joyous crowd.
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 ;
Yet, through good heart and our Lady's grace,
Lay of the Last Minstrel.