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Undisturbed by the foeman, to watch us as onward we sweep,
And still feel at the clang of our war-trump the wild frenzy leap
In his breast 'neath the cold wave. Aye still will it throb at the cry
Which calls Odin's true warriors to conquer, the Roman
"For he stood yester eve by my couch: and his golden hair streamed,
As 'twas wont on the morn of the battle: the emeralds
On his neck in the flickering fire-light; and pointing his
Crimson yet with the hated foe's life-blood, where yonder oak glade
Slopes southward, he said, the while flashing, like summer's blue skies
When the passing cloud darts forth its lightning, his storm-darkened eyes:
'Ye have burnt the foul lair of the snake, shut your ears to the lay,
Which she wove to entice you to slumber, forgetful of fray,
Sweet words stealing over the senses and soothing the breast,
While their echo crept drowsily lulling war's fever to rest.
"For she lay clothed in beauty and power; and a
Lit her eye, whose dark lustre, enchanting the soul, would
To forgetfulness. Ah! how I longed, when I gazed on her charms,
By her spells bound to rest where the war-shout, the clanging of arms,
Might be borne from afar, like dim echoes in ocean's green
In soft sighs through my dreams, as I languished the wise maiden's slave.
"But I thought of the voice that had wakened the silent
On whose twilight I burst first of mortals a child, as I
From my comrades in thought of the beautiful city, the queen
Of the South, with her vineyards and palaces, nestling between (3)
Vine-crests, whence our minstrels had told us foul demons enthroned
Hurled their bolts on the foeman, who, scorning their spells, thus atoned
With his life for his daring. And childlike I longed to
All her beauties, and taste of her wisdom, the treasures,
That had strewn the world's nations beneath her, to bear her great name
O'er new lands on my lips and my sword, as I won her fresh fame.
(3) "Les dieux l'habitent, et des feux supernaturels protégent, dit on, ses remparts; une puissance inconnue lance la foudre sur l'ennemi qui ose l'approcher." Recits de l'Hist. Rom.-THIERRY.
"Then a strain sad and sweet, full of awe, from the still shadows stole,
Singing, how in the years that were past the rich towers of the troll
With his wealth and his wisdom had lured the untaught forest child
To the serfdom of vice; how there watched, where the calm waters smiled,
In the depths of the bright southern sea the fierce shark for his prey :
How a monster more terrible, hid midst Rome's luxury,
Like a serpent coiled 'neath a grape-cluster,-whose chains were at first
All roses, then grew to be fetters no mortal could burst. And then swept louder notes through the forest which told
me that I,
If I spurned her enchantments, might drink with glad ears her death-cry
In the sunrise of Freedom.
'The pure golden dawn of the north
Soon shall scare,' they said, 'night's shadows brooding o'er earth, leaping forth
From these forests, and bearing the lamp of a day that shall shed
Its bright rays far and wide o'er the world, when her glory has fled.
Be but pure, and thy standards (4) shall hang o'er her darkness.' The lay
Then died out midst the whisper of leaves, and I passed
on my way.
(4) Clara palam vox edita luco est :
"Alpibus Italiæ ruptis penetrabis ad urbem." "
CLAUDIAN Bell. Get. v. 545.
"Then our billows leapt dashing o'er Greece, but the cry ever rung
Midst the din of the battle, "Goths, on to the city!" "Twas sung
By the breezes that played round the Parthenon, when half in awe
I watched her the world owned her mistress ere Rome, and I saw
The bright shrines of her gods and the Ocean's innumerous smile
That had borne on her squadrons to victory, musing the
How her glory had fallen, as Rome's too was destined to fall;
Even so might the Gothic name die.
And I left her to moulder in silence.
Then I heard pity's
"For Rome's legion's came,
With a son (5) of the North at their head, the last stay of
Who had heard the soft notes of her music and fought with the brand
Of her name on his brow, bearing Odin's fierce strength in the hand
That could bind the false mistress it served. Such a lot in my dream
Had I envied, ere destiny called me. The forest-fed
Dashed against his proud eagles, and fell as the surge from the shore:
Once again the wave leapt and recoiled, and the vultures hung o'er
The dark plains which the sword and the fever had strewn with our dead,
Till we longed in despair to creep after as northward they
But the serpent's fangs turned on her saviour, and, like the foul weed
That drags down the fair flower which supports it, she crushed him; her meed
For his truth.
"So the barriers were broken, the voice echoed 'Rome!' Till we poured through the Apennine passes and looked on the home
Of the tyrant that preyed on the world. Then there hung o'er her head
Dark clouds fraught with doom, as the vultures soared
watching our dead,
Naught availed her false smiles, her enchantments, her frowns, or her gold.
If our sword ever faltered, that voice in the thunder clap
'Strike! spare not.' The tempest burst o'er her and temple and tower
Before Odin and Christ sank in ruins midst flames, in the hour
When the Goth stood (6) a victor within Cæsar's palace and heard
(6) "Hear the song of ASGARD, warriors of the Goths! Did not ALARIC the King love it well? Did I not sing it before him in the palace of the Caesars, till he swore, for all the Christians that he was, to go southward in search of the holy city?"
Hypatia, ch. iii.