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A Poem




"The last song

When the dead man is praised on his journey-" Bear, bear him along
With his few faults shut up like dead flowerets! Are balm-seeds not here
To console us? The land has none left such as he on the bier,

Oh, would we might keep thee, my brother!"



It is night and the moonlight is trembling o'er mountain

and vale;

And long shadows are falling beneath the gray rocks, as

the wail

Of the nightingale wakens the echoes that sleep in the


Till they die down the hill-side midst whispers of quivering vines,

Watch their tangled green tresses sway, billow-like, on to

the foam's

Ever murmuring ripple round half hidden clusters of


Hanging over the river, that whirls silver eddies along,

Chiming in with their music incessant to night's plaintive


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But another sound rings on the quiet sad air, for yon camp,

See its fires twinkling far in the distance,-is filled with the tramp

Of a multitude gathering in anguish for one who is dead. And a dim line of mourners winds upward with sorrow's

O'er the vine-slopes.

slow tread

And wolf-skins and helms quiver

red in the light

Of the torches that quench the pale moonbeams and flare

through the night

Round those pale ghastly faces that breathe death, like wolves when the lair

Lies stained with the gore of the whelp. And the echoing


Bears the sound of their wailing far over the heights where

the sleep

Of the eagle and falcon is broken, and dark shadows creep Down beneath their scared flight. Now they reach the long line of tall reeds,

Marking ever the way where the stream with its laughing

spray speeds:

But its laughter is hushed as the dead man is borne to the


Which yon captives have reared in its bosom.


To rest where the wave (1)

Leaves the dry pebbles bright in the moonlight, they lay

him 'neath spoils

(1) "Les Goths, qui le (Alaric) pleurèrent comme un grand homme et un grand roi, voulurent honorer sa mémoire par une sépulture digne d'eux et de lui. De peur que des mains romaines, excitées par la cupidité ou la haine, ne violassent les restes du violateur de Rome, ils creusèrent sa fosse près de Consentia, dans le lit d'une petite rivière appelée le Barentin, qu'ils rendirent ensuite à son cours naturel." Recits de l'Hist. Rom.-THIERRY.

Torn from proud cities' towers on the cold rocks, and o'er him now boils

The swift torrent, which falls, never heeding, incessantly down

From the mountains above melting into the blue, as they frown

On the fierce scene of slaughter beneath. In the torchlight gleams steel

Flashing merciless, dripping with life-blood, as headless trunks reel

In the death swoon. But hark!--and each blade falls 'mid silence, for o'er

The wild chords sweeps the hand of the minstrel: the mystical lore

Of his voice's sad melody stays their blood-madness: all know

How that harp ever soothed rage's furrows on Alaric's brow.


"List, wolves of the Goths, mourning kingless, for he whom we love

Lies asleep, where the Apennine (2) torrent-foam ever


Sings a lullaby meet for the hero, who swept o'er the land Like a torrent, and bent in his course with the might of his hand,

As the stream bends the frail reeds before it, proud cities and kings;

Where unknown he may rest, while his name through the universe rings,

(2) "Et celui qui avait traversé le monde avec la violence et le fracas d'un torrent endendit gronder éternellement sur sa tête les eaux déchaînées de l'Appennin."

Recits de l'Hist. Rom.-THIERRY.

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