The Complete Poetical Works of Lord Byron

By George Gordon Byron | Go to book overview
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Cœs. And mine?
Bourb. To follow glory with the Bourbon.
Good night!
A rn. (to Cæsar). Prepare our armour for the assault,
And wait within my tent.
[Exeunt BOURBON, ARNOLD, PHILIBERT, &c.
Cœs. (solus). Within thy tent!
Think'st thou that I pass from thee with my presence?
Or that this crooked coffer, which contain'd

Thy principle of life, is aught to me 881
Except a mask? And these are men, for-sooth!
Heroes and chiefs, the flower of Adam's bastards!
This is the consequence, of giving matter
The power of thought. It is a stubborn substance,
And thinks chaotically, as it acts,
Ever relapsing into its first elements.

Well! I must play with these poor puppets:
't is
The spirit's pastime in his idler hours.

When I grow weary of it, I have business
Amongst the stars, which these poor ere

tures deem 891
Were made for them to look at. 'T were a jest now
To bring one down amongst them, and set fire
Unto their anthill: how the pismires then
Would scamper o'er the scalding soil, and, ceasing
From tearing down each other's nests, pipe forth
One universal orison! Ha! ha!
[Exit CÆESAR.


PART II

SCENE I

Before the Walls of Rome. -- The assault: the army in motion, with ladders to scale the walk,; BOURBON, with a white scarf over his armour, foremost.

Chorus of Spirits in the air.


I

'T is the morn, but dim and dark.
Whither flies the silent lark?
Whither shrinks the clouded sun?
Is the day indeed begun?
Nature's eye is melancholy
O'er the city high and holy:
But without there is a din
Should arouse the saints within,
And revive the heroic ashes

Round which yellow Tiber dashes. 10

Oh ye seven hills! awaken,
Ere your very base be shaken!


2

Hearken to the steady stamp!
Mars is in their every tramp!
Not a step is out of tune,
As the tides obey the moon!
On they march, though to self-slaughter,
Regular as rolling water,
Whose high waves o'ersweep the border

Of huge moles, but keep their order, 20
Breaking only rank by rank.
Hearken to the armour's clank!
Look down o'er each frowning warrior,
How he glares upon the barrier:
Look on each step of each ladder,
As the stripes that streak an adder.


3

Look upon the bristling wall,
Mann'd without an interval!
Round and round, and tier on tier,

Cannon's black mouth, shining spear, 30
Lit match, bell-mouth'd musquetoon,
Gaping to be murderous soon.
All the warlike gear of old,
Mix'd with what we now behold,
In this strife, 'twixt old and new,
Gather like a locusts' crew.
Shade of Remus! 't is a time
Awful as thy brother's crime!
Christians war against Christ's shrine:--
Must its lot be like to thine? 40


4

Near -- and near -- and nearer still,
As the earthquake saps the hill,
First with trembling, hollow motion,
Like a scarce-awaken'd ocean,
Then with stronger shock and louder,
Till the rocks are crush'd to powder, --
Onward sweeps the rolling host!
Heroes of the immortal boast!
Mighty chiefs! eternal shadows!

First flowers of the bloody meadows 50
Which encompass Rome, the mother
Of a people without brother!
Will you sleep when nations' quarrels
Plough the root up of your laurels?
Ye who weep o'er Carthage burning,
Weep not -- strike! for Rome is mourning!

-735-

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