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But by the yellow Tiber

Was tumult and affright:
From all the spacious champaign

To Rome men took their flight.
A mile around the city,

The throng stopped up the ways:
A fearful sight it was to see

Through two long nights and days.


For aged folks on crutches,

And women great with child,
And mothers sobbing over babes

That clung to them and smiled,
And sick men borne in litters

High on the necks of slaves,
And troops of sun-burned husbandmen

With reaping-hooks and staves.



And droves of mules and asses

Laden with skins of wine,
And endless flocks of goats and sheep,

And endless herds of kine,
And endless trains of wagons

That creaked beneath the weight
Of corn-sacks and of household goods,

Choked every roaring gate.



Now, from the rock Tarpeian,

Could the wan burghers spy
The line of blazing villages

Red in the midnight sky.
The Fathers of the City,

They sat all night and day,
For every hour some horseman came

With tidings of dismay.

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They held a council standing

Before the River-Gate;
Short time was there, ye well may guess,

For musing or debate.
Out spake the Consul roundly:

“The bridge must straight go down; For, since Janiculum is lost,

Nought else can save the town.”



Just then a scout came flying,

All wild with haste and fear:
“To arms! to arms! Sir Consul:

Lars Porsena is here."
On the low hills to westward

The Consul fixed his eye,
And saw the swarthy storm of dust

Rise fast along the sky.



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 fourfold shield,
Girt with the brand none else may wield,
Volumnius with the belt of gold,
And dark Verbena 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?"


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"Horatius," quoth the Consul,

As thou sayest, so let it be." And straight against that great array

Forth went 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.


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