Sunday, February 1, 2015

Horatius at the Bridge

Lars Porsena of Clusium, 
by the Nine Gods he swore 
That the great house of Tarquin 
should suffer wrong no more. 
By the Nine Gods he swore it, 
and named a trysting day, 
And bade his messengers ride forth, 
East and West and South and North, 
To summon his array. 

East and West and South and North 
the messengers ride fast, 
And tower and town and cottage 
have heard the trumpet's blast. 
Shame on the false Etruscan 
who lingers in his home, 
When Porsena of Clusium 
is on the march for Rome! 

The horsemen and the footmen 
are pouring in amain 
From many a stately market-place, 
from many a fruitful plain; 
From many a lonely hamlet which, 
hid by beech and pine 
Like an eagle's nest hangs on the crest 
of purple Apennine; 

From lordly Volaterrae, 
where scowls the far-famed hold 
Piled by the hands of giants 
for god-like kings of old; 
From sea-girt Populonia, 
whose sentinels descry 
Sardinia's snowy mountain-tops 
fringing the southern sky; 

From the proud mart of Pisae, 
queen of the western waves, 
Where ride Massilia's triremes, 
heavy with fair-haired slaves; 
From where sweet Clanis wanders 
through corn and vines and flowers; 
From where Cortona lifts to heaven 
her diadem of towers. 

Tall are the oaks whose acorns drop 
in dark Auser's rill; 
Fat are the stags that champ the boughs 
of the Ciminian hill; 
Beyond all streams Clitumnus is 
to the herdsman dear; 
Best of all pools the fowler loves 
the great Volsinian mere. 

But now no stroke of woodman 
is heard by Auser's rill; 
No hunter tracks the stag's green path 
up the Ciminian hill; 
Unwatched along Clitumnus 
grazes the milk-white steer; 
Unharmed the water fowl may dip 
in the Volsinian mere. 

The harvests of Arretium, 
this year, old men shall reap; 
This year, young boys in Umbro 
shall plunge the struggling sheep; 
And in the vats of Luna, 
this year, the must shall foam 
Round the white feet of laughing girls 
whose sires have marched to Rome. 

There be thirty chosen prophets, 
the wisest of the land, 
Who always by Lars Porsena 
both morn and evening stand: 
Evening and morn the Thirty 
have turned the verses o'er, 
Traced from the right on linen white
 by mighty seers of yore; 

And with one voice the Thirty 
have their glad answer given: 
"Go forth, go forth, Lars Porsena! 
Go forth, beloved of Heaven! 
Go, and return in glory 
to Clusium's round dome, 
And hang round Nurscia's altars 
the golden shields of Rome." 

And now hath every city 
sent up her tale of men; 
The foot are fourscore thousand; 
the horse are thousands ten. 
Before the gates of Sutrium 
is met the great array. 
A proud man was Lars Porsena 
upon the trysting day. 

For all the Tuscan armies 
were ranged beneath his eye, 
And many a banished Roman, 
and many a stout ally; 
And with a mighty following
 to join the muster came 
The Tusculan Mamilius,
 Prince of the Latian name. 

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 Tarpiean, 
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. 

To eastward and to westward 
have spread the Tuscan bands; 
Nor house, nor fence, nor dovecote 
in Crustumerium stands. 
Verbenna down to Ostia 
hath wasted all the plain; 
Astur hath stormed Janiculum, 
and the stout guards are slain. 

I wis, in all the Senate, 
there was no heart so bold, 
But sore it ached, and fast it beat, 
when that ill news was told. 
Forthwith up rose the Consul, 
up rose the Fathers all; 
In haste they girded up their gowns 
and hied them to the wall. 

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, 
naught 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 whirling 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 four-fold shield, 
girt with the brand none else may wield, 
Tolumnius with the belt of gold, 
and dark Verbenna 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, 
who 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 toward him and hissed, 
No child but screamed out curses, 
and shook its little first. 

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 might win the bridge, 
what hope to save the town?" 

Then out spoke brave Horatius
the Captain of the Gate: 
"To every man upon this earth, 
death cometh soon or late; 
And how can man die better 
than facing fearful odds, 
For the ashes of his fathers, 
and the temples of his Gods, 

And for the tender mother 
who dandled him to rest, 
And for the wife who nurses 
his baby at her breast, 
And for the holy maidens 
who feed the eternal flame, 
To save them from false Sextus, 
that wrought the deed of shame? 

Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul, 
with all the speed ye may! 
I, with two more to help me, 
will hold the foe in play. 
In yon strait path, a thousand 
may well be stopped by three: 
Now, who will stand on either hand 
and keep the bridge with me?' 

Then out spake Spurius Lartius; 
a Ramnian proud was he: 
"Lo, I will stand at thy right hand 
and keep the bridge with thee." 
And out spake strong Herminius;
 of Titian blood was he: 
"I will abide on thy left side, 
and keep the bridge with thee." 

"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. 

Then none was for a party; 
then all were for the state; 
Then the great man helped the poor, 
nd the poor man loved the great. 
Then lands were fairly portioned; 
then spoils were fairly sold: 
The Romans were like brothers 
in the brave days of old. 

Now Roman is to Roman 
more hateful than a foe, 
And the Tribunes beard the high, 
and the Fathers grind the low. 
As we wax hot in faction, 
in battle we wax cold: 
Wherefore men fight not as they fought 
in the brave days of old. 

Now while the Three were tightening 
their harness on their backs, 
The Consul was the foremost man 
to take in hand an axe: 
And Fathers mixed with Commons 
seized hatchet, bar and crow, 
And smote upon the planks above 
and loosed the props below. 

Meanwhile the Tuscan army, 
right glorious to behold, 
Came flashing back the noonday light, 
Rank behind rank, like surges bright 
of a broad sea of gold. 
Four hundred trumpets sounded 
a peal of warlike glee, 
As that great host, with measured tread, 
and spears advanced, and ensigns spread, 
Rolled slowly towards the bridge's head 
where stood the dauntless Three. 

The Three stood calm and silent, 
and looked upon the foes, 
And a great shout of laughter 
from all the vanguard rose: 
And forth three chiefs came spurring 
before that deep array; 
To earth they sprang, their swords they drew, 
and lifted high their shields, and flew 
To win the narrow way; 

Aunus from green Tifernum, 
Lord of the Hill of Vines; 
And Seius, whose eight hundred slaves 
sicken in Ilva's mines; 
And Picus, long to Clusium 
vassal in peace and war, 
Who led to fight his Umbrian powers 
from that grey crag where, girt with towers, 
The fortress of Naquinum lowers o'er 
the pale waves of Nar. 

Stout Lartius hurled down Aunus 
into the stream beneath: 
Herminius struck at Seius, 
and clove him to the teeth: 
At Picus brave Horatius 
darted one fiery thrust; 
And the proud Umbrian's golden arms 
clashed in the bloody dust. 

Then Ocnus of Falerii 
rushed on the Roman Three; 
And Lausulus of Urgo, 
the rover of the sea, 
And Aruns of Volsinium, 
who slew the great wild boar, 
The great wild boar that had his den
 amidst the reeds of Cosa's fen, 
And wasted fields, and slaughtered men, 
along Albinia's shore. 

Herminius smote down Aruns; 
Lartius laid Ocnus low: 
Right to the heart of Lausulus 
Horatius sent a blow. 
"Lie there," he cried, "fell pirate! 
No more, aghast and pale, 
From Ostia's walls the crowd shall mark 
the track of thy destroying bark. 
No more Campania's hinds shall fly 
to woods and caverns when they spy 
Thy thrice-accursed sail." 

But now no sound of laughter 
was heard among the foes. 
A wild and wrathful clamour 
from all the vanguard rose. 
Six spears' lengths from the entrance 
halted that deep array, 
And for a space no man came forth 
to win the narrow way. 

But hark! the cry is Astur, 
and lo! the ranks divide; 
And the great Lord of Luna 
comes with his stately stride. 
Upon his ample shoulders 
clangs loud the four-fold shield, 
And in his hand he shakes the brand 
which none but he can wield. 

He smiled on those bold Romans 
a smile serene and high; 
He eyed the flinching Tuscans, 
and scorn was in his eye. 
Quoth he, "The she-wolf's litter 
stand savagely at bay: 
But will ye dare to follow, 
if Astur clears the way?" 

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. 
The blow, yet turned, 
came yet too nigh; 
It missed his helm, 
but gashed his thigh: 
The Tuscans raised a joyful cry 
to see the red blood flow. 

He reeled, and on Herminius 
he leaned one breathing-space; 
Then, like a wild-cat mad with wounds, 
sprang right at Astur's face. 
Through teeth, and skull, and helmet 
so fierce a thrust he sped, 
The good sword stood a hand-breadth 
out behind the Tuscan's head. 

And the great Lord of Luna 
fell at that deadly stroke, 
As falls on Mount Alvernus 
a thunder-smited oak. 
Far o'er the crashing forest 
the giant arms lay spread; 
And the pale augurs, muttering low, 
gaze on the blasted head. 

On Astur's throat Horatius 
right firmly pressed his heel, 
And thrice and four times tugged amain,
 ere he wrenched out the steel. 
"And see," he cried, "the welcome, 
fair guests, that waits you here! 
What noble Lucumo comes next 
to taste our Roman cheer?" 

But at his haughty challenge 
a sullen murmur ran, 
Mingled of wrath, and shame, 
and dread, along that glittering van. 
There lacked not men of prowess, 
nor men of lordly race; 
For all Etruria's noblest 
were round the fatal place. 

But all Etruria's noblest 
felt their hearts sink to see 
On the earth the bloody corpses; 
in their path the dauntless Three; 
And, from the ghastly entrance 
where those bold Romans stood, 
All shrank, like boys who unaware, 
ranging the woods to start a hare, 
Come to the mouth of a dark lair 
where, growling low, a fierce old bear 
Lies amidst bones and blood. 

Was none who would be foremost 
to lead such dire attack? 
But those behind cried "Forward!"
and those before cried "Back!" 
And backward now and forward 
wavers the deep array; 
And on the tossing sea of steel, 
to and fro the standards reel; 
And the victorious trumpet-peal 
dies fitfully away. 

Yet one man for one moment 
strode out before the crowd; 
Well known was he to all the Three, 
and they gave him greeting loud. 
"Now welcome, welcome, Sextus! 
Now welcome to thy home! 
Why dost thou stay, and turn away? 
Here lies the road to Rome." 

Thrice looked he at the city; 
thrice looked he at the dead; 
And thrice came on in fury, 
and thrice turned back in dread: 
And, white with fear and hatred, 
scowled at the narrow way 
Where, wallowing in a pool of blood, 
the bravest Tuscans lay. 

But meanwhile axe and lever
 have manfully been plied; 
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!" 

Back darted Spurius Lartius; 
Herminius darted back: 
And as they passed, beneath their feet 
they felt the timbers crack. 
But when they turned their faces, 
and on the further shore 
Saw brave Horatius stand alone, 
they would have crossed once more. 

But with a crash like thunder 
fell every loosened beam, 
And, like a dam, the mighty wreck 
lay right athwart the stream: 
And a loud shout of triumph 
rose from the walls of Rome, 
As to the highest turret-tops 
was splashed the yellow foam. 

And, like a horse unbroken, 
when first he feels the rein, 
The furious river struggled hard, 
and tossed his tawny mane, 
And burst the curb, and bounded, 
rejoicing to be free, 
And whirling down, in fierce career, 
battlement, and plank, and pier 
Rushed headlong to the sea. 

Alone stood brave Horatius, 
but constant still in mind; 
Thrice thirty thousand foes before,
 and the broad flood behind. 
"Down with him!" cried false Sextus, 
with a smile on his pale face. 
"Now yield thee", cried Lars Porsena, 
"now yield thee to our grace!" 

Round turned he, as not deigning 
those craven ranks to see; 
Nought spake he to Lars Porsena, 
to Sextus nought spake he; 
But he saw on Palatinus 
the white porch of his home; 
And he spake to the noble river 
that rolls by the towers of Rome. 

"Oh Tiber, father Tiber, 
to whom the Romans pray, 
A Roman's life, a Roman's arms, 
take thou in charge this day!" 
So he spake and, speaking, 
sheathed the good sword by his side, 
And, with his harness on his back, 
plunged headlong in the tide. 

No sound of joy or sorrow 
was heard from either bank; 
But friends and foes in dumb surprise, 
with parted lips and straining eyes, 
Stood gazing where he sank; 
And when above the surges 
they saw his crest appear, 
All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry, 
and even the ranks of Tuscany 
Could scarce forbear to cheer. 

But fiercely ran the current, 
swollen high by months of rain: 
And fast his blood was flowing; 
and he was sore in pain, 
And heavy with his armour, 
and spent with changing blows: 
And oft they thought him sinking, 
but still again he rose. 

Never, I ween, did swimmer, 
in such an evil case, 
Struggle through such a raging flood 
safe to the landing place: 
But his limbs were borne up bravely 
by the brave heart within, 
And our good father Tiber 
bare bravely up his chin. 

"Curse on him!" quoth false Sextus, 
"will not the villain drown? 
But for this stay, ere close of day, 
we would have sacked the town!" 
"Heaven help him!" quoth Lars Porsena, 
"and bring him safe to shore; 
For such a gallant feat of arms 
was never seen before." 

And now he feels the bottom: 
now on dry earth he stands; 
Now round him throng the Fathers, 
to press his gory hands; 
And now, with shouts and clapping, 
and noise of weeping loud, 
He enters through the River-Gate, 
borne by the joyous crowd. 

They gave him of the corn-land, 
that was of public right, 
As much as two strong oxen 
could plough from morn till night; 
And they made a molten image, 
and set it up on high, 
And there it stands unto this day t
o witness if I lie. 

It stands in the Comitium, 
plain for all folk to see; 
Horatius in his harness, 
halting upon one knee: 
And underneath is written,
 in letters all of gold, 
How valiantly he kept the bridge 
in the brave days of old. 

And still his name sounds stirring 
unto the men of Rome, 
As the trumpet-blast that calls to them 
to charge the Volscian home; 
And wives still pray to Juno 
for boys with hearts as bold 
As his who kept the bridge so well 
in the brave days of old. 

And in the nights of winter, 
when the cold north winds blow, 
And the long howling of the wolves 
is heard amidst the snow; 
When round the lonely cottage 
roars loud the tempest's din, 
And the good logs of Algidus 
roar louder yet within; 

When the oldest cask is opened, 
and the largest lamp is lit; 
When the chestnuts glow in the embers, 
and the kid turns on the spit; 
When young and old in circle 
around the firebrands close; 
When the girls are weaving baskets 
and the lads are shaping bows 

When the goodman mends his armour, 
and trims his helmet's plume, 
And the goodwife's shuttle merrily 
goes flashing through the loom; 
With weeping and with laughter 
still is the story told, 
How well Horatius kept the bridge 
in the brave days of old.

Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859)


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, AOW. I'm sure I shall.

    2. I know quite a few of these Roman stories. All my years of studying Latin, I guess.

      The Romans certainly knew how to foster patriotism.

    3. A lesson we would do well to learn anew today, AOW. We've been busily DESTROYING patriotism -- or the LEFT has -- for about a hundred years.

    4. What was it Dr Johnson said about patriotism?

    5. FT,
      The destruction of patriotism leads not only to the destruction of a nation but also to the destruction of that nation's culture.

    6. Jez,

      "PATRIOTISM is the REFUGE of a SCOUNDREL." ;-)

      Boswell tells us that Samuel Johnson made this famous pronouncement on the evening of April 7, 1775. He doesn't provide any context for how the remark arose, so we don't really know for sure what was on Johnson's mind at the time.

      However, Boswell assures us that Johnson was not indicting patriotism in general, only false patriotism.

      What Johnson may have had in mind was what-we-would-call- CHAUVINISM today. I'm not sure the term "Chauvinism was in use in late-eighteenth-century England. I must look it up.

      Considering the deplorable condition of the West today, as demonstrated by our lamentable, frankly disgraceful popular culture, I would reverse Dr.Johnson's statement and say that lack of patriotism is the mark of a scoundrel.

    7. I think he means that patriotism is easily (ab)used by scoundrels to disguise their nefarious motives. Therefore I apply much scepticism to appeals to patriotism.

    8. A SEPTIC sort of "scepticism" no doubt. I'm fairly certain had you been of age and in a position of influence back in the day, you would have gladly turned Britain over to the Germans before a shot was fired, apologized profusely for having the unmitigated gall to have been born British, and studied earnestly forthwith to make the Tongue of the Hun your own.

      THE most distinguishing hallmark of leftists seems to be their ardent desire to be on anyone and everyone's "side" but their own both historically and contemporaneously.

      Psychology might call it a "Reaction Formation" towards all traditional objects of authority and veneration -- either that or genuine SELF-HATRED.

      Of course now that you're a UKITE, there's no longer any need to defend England anymore. To all intents and purposes "England," as such, has ceased to exist.

      I suppose YOU think of that as "PROGRESS." I think of it as a TRAGEDY.

    9. By the way and for the record: I am SKEPTICAL of EVERYTHING generic Man has devised for himself, but I refuse to become CYNICAL.

      And I most certainly do NOT believe it is EVER a good idea to throw the proverbial baby out with the proverbial bathwater.

    10. I aspire to the very same thing (skeptical without being cynical). Maybe we aren't the best judges of each other, but I'm afraid it looks to me like you're loosing the battle against the cynicism, FreeThinke.

      I don't know what you mean about this UK vs England business. I'm quite happy to be identified as English, and happier still to be identified as British. I don't consider those developments recent enough (our union is largely unchanged since the 18th century, give or take Ireland's secession) to count as progress. I consider relinquishing Empire to be progress. I consider freedom of movement a necessary condition of modernity. I consider cooperation within the EU infinitely preferable to the millenium of interminable war which preceded it.

      I like to use a country's treatment of her minority citizens as a handy indicator of her general moral condition. Using that test (which I admit is informed recent history), it wouldn't have taken long for me to reject 20th century fascism.

    11. I am glad you still regard yourself as English, Jez, but why "better yet" British?

      The name UK bothers me, because it's another of myriad unnecessary, essentially meaningless (as I am happy to see you admit!) changes that have been forced on the world by mysterious, unnamed, unaccountable influences at whose identity one may only guess.

      I see no valid point whatsoever in renaming the British Isles "The United Kingdom," so why do it? The same is true of the change in pronunciation from Keen-ya to Kenn-ya, and "official" name changes such as Siam-Thailand, Peking-Beijing, Rhodesia-Zimbabwe, Ceylon-Sri Lankha, Bombay-Mumbai, Burma-Myanmar, and God knows what all else. That the motive behind these changes must be geo-political, and an obvious slap-in-the-face toward Britain's profound influence in shaping the modern world and a desire to obliterate the memory of it as much as possible seems patently obvious.

      The same is true in the USA where distinctly regional -- not to say "peasantine" -- pronunciations of place names are now being forcibly established as the new "correct" pronunciation, and formerly standard pronunciations are being discarded as evidence of undesirable "elitism."

      In other words, because of some bureaucratic, "educratic," socialistic determination to create a LEVEL society by government EDICT implemented via the MEDIA, it is no longer "correct" to be CORRECT. In fact one is often mocked today for BEING correct.

      I find it maddening to say the least.

      The same is true of Feminaziism's all-too-successful determination to force the linguistic abomination called "inclusive language" upon us.

      I, of course, see these attempts at achieving "equality" by fiat as nothing more or less than the deliberate VULGARIZATION, and the DEBASEMENT of a culture so attacked by militant intellectual insurgency.

      These changes are yet another way to put an Establishment, seen as "outmoded," "unfair," or otherwise inimical to "progress," in its place and sweep it into the dustbin of history.

      I mentioned babies and bathwater above. In my view by adopting these annoying, often confusing, yet entirely superficial changes the new Establishment has achieved nothing of value and done a great deal of harm in its blatant attempt to cut us off from our past debasing our language while heaping nothing but disrespect and derision on our once-proud history, mores and customs. If that isn't a prime example of throwing the "baby" out with the "bath water," I can't think what would be.

      Yes, Empire's day has come and gone, but merely to denigrate it, and expect present generations to bathe in guilt over it, as though it were all a tragic error, and nothing good had come out of it, and the descendants of those who brought it about and administered it are morally obliged to make "RESTITUTION" is as absurd as demanding a return to Eden with Genesis replayed without eating that God-damned apple. ;-)

      Or, as my father used to say jokingly when the headlines got too depressing, "We might as well give it all back to the Indians."

      Sorry. No can do. " ... What's done is done and cannot be undone ..."

    12. Prefer "British" because my choice of emphasis is the Union. I rarely need to distinguish between English and Scottish etc. It doesn't help that "Englishness" has been hijacked in decades past by thugish, racist football supporters, but I feel that association less keenly in the last few years.

      Actually, the term "United Kingdom." It is neither new nor mysterious: it was introduced by whomever drafted the Acts of Union in the 1700s. If you want to get nerdy about it, the UK includes some small territories which are not within Great Britain, so the two terms are not merely synonymous.

    13. Interesting about the term United Kingdom. Thanks for adding to my scanty store of knowledge, but won't you admit the term didn't become de rigeur until recent years?

      I was very pleased when the recent effort to achieve Scottish secession failed. May I assume you were too, or didn't you care very much one way or the other?

      As a self-identified Anglophile -- an evaluation to which several English and Scottish friends -- and one Australian lady -- from my past would attest -- I have always felt a warm appreciation for the considerable differences among the Welsh, Cornish, Scottish and Irish inhabitants of the British Isles. I love hearing the different dialects spoken, although some strike me as more attractive than others. I would hate to see these unique cultures disappear altogether, although I think the efforts to "restore" Erse-Gaelic-Irish, whatever it's properly called, as THE official language in Ireland is absurd, and certainly doomed to fail. I might say the same for the efforts to preserve the Welsh tongue. I'm not unsympathetic to these efforts, but I see them as vastly impractical. How do you feel about it?

      Being a person who favors cosmopolitan -- as opposed to multicultural -- values I revel in "difference," unless it becomes bellicose and unduly competitive.

      I'm an American mutt. Half of me stems from Cornish-Scottish-Anglo-Saxon blood, but the other half is Roman-Italian. ;-) Perhaps the two halves are in fact united because of the ancient Roman conquest of Britain? Who knows? Anything is possible in this crazy world.

    14. I haven't noticed the term United Kingdom becoming any more or less prevalent in my lifetime, but bare in mind I can't remember the '70s.
      I did find this:
      A passport from 1915, note the opening remarks "We, Sir Edward Grey a Baronet of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, ..."

  2. Stickler for Veracity said

    Why did you post this long-winded piece of19th-century claptrap? There's not a word of truth in it.

    1. Only dolts fail to understand there is more truth in poetry than in any dry, dispassionate recital of facts and figures.

      "Lies, God-damned lies and statistics," don't you know? ;-)

    2. It's easy to lie with statistics. It's even easier to lie without them.

  3. Code Stinko ScreamerFebruary 1, 2015 at 2:35 PM

    I DEMAND you take down this war-mongering poem!!!

    It should be Horsepeople and footpeople to make it gender inclusive.

    Dreadful, just dreadful you man-spreading troglodyte!!!

    1. Thanks for giving me the first genuine belly laugh of the week. You're a riot -- an absolute comic-satiric genius. You even beat out silly old Stickler for Veracity up there.

      I shall look forward to more of your amusing caricatures of asininity in future.

  4. "I shall look forward to more of your amusing caricatures of asininity"

    And I, Yours. Please post again.....the world is short of your brand.

    1. Please give yourself a name. something like Astur's Pet Horse might do, but let it be your choice. Too many undistinguished Anonymous posts make things more confusing than ever.


    2. Dilapidalia de Range said

      ASTUR'S PET ASS would be more like it, FT.

      Very clever pun on one of the big names in the bridge poem by the way. People miss a lot when they don' bother to read these selections.

  5. Reading history teaches us unchecked nationalism and patriotism takes nations to war. In the reach for more power and control.

    1. There's a HUGE difference beween AGGRESSION and DEFENSE, between PATRIOTISM and CHAUVINISM, between COURAGE and FOOLHARDINESS, between WORTH and WASTE.

      What you briefly catalogued is simply The Way Things Are and Always Have Been.

      I am passionately anti-AGGRESSION, but vehemently pro-DEFENSE.

      Failure to undersand the difference leas to involuntary SUICIDE.

      Liberals may or may not not know it, but what they advocate is nothing more or less than voluntary SUICIDE.

    2. On this we more or less AGREE.

      However, when studying the Spanish American War, WW I, Korean Conflict, and Vietnam War in particular, it leads me to the conclusion most wars the USA were involved in were not in self defense.

      When my nation is attacked, just as if my family were attacked it becomes self defense and becoming a killing machine in the act of defending family and nation is wholly justifiable. In fact it becomes a necessity.

    3. If you'd been following me for any great length of time, Gandolf, you would know that I have consistently denounced our participation in every military endeavor since the end of WWII as deliberately calculated exercises in futility.

      In the strictest sense, we could categorize our very presence on these shores from its inception as hostile aggression against innocent people who had done us no harm, but, as Lady Macbeth said, "What's done is done and cannot be undine."

      In my never humble opinion the worst act of aggression ever perpetrated by the United States of America was Lincoln's War of Northern Aggression. I will not bother to justify that opinion. Either you see it, or you don't, but the MYTH we've been systematically fed about Lincoln's "greatness" is the most outrageous LIE ever dreamt up by "Liberals."

    4. Believing human bondage to be immoral, as immoral as any war we ever waged that was not in response to aggression against our nation this is a tough one. Only because human bondage in America officially came to an end.

      Politically whether the North had the right to go to war to forcibly keep the South in the Union is another matter. Therefore your point is not lost on me. Arguing the case for southern seperation from the Union would not be difficult.


    5. It's not productive to judge the standards of the past by those of the present.

      What most of us regard as immoral, outrageous, inhumane, barbaric, etc. was at one time an accepted norm.

      Also, standards and mores differ greatly among peoples of different ethnic, religious groups and geographical locations.

      Our species is still evolving, and we still have a long way to go.

  6. A despicable tribute to WAR and Violence! You should be ASHAMED, Mr. FreeThinke!

    1. Piffle, you dreary old pussy! PIFFLE!

      It's a good thing I can stand a joke, or you'd be out of here faster than you could say SCAT.

    2. One day, you will International A.N.S.W.E.R. for your WAR Crimes, Mr. FreeThinke! THAT I can promise you! We'll see who's piffling THEN!

      Arrest FreeThinke for WAR CRIMES! Arrest FreeThinke for WAR CRIMES! Arrest FreeThinke for WAR CRIMES! Arrest FreeThinke for WAR CRIMES! Arrest FreeThinke for WAR CRIMES! Arrest FreeThinke for WAR CRIMES! Arrest FreeThinke for WAR CRIMES! Arrest FreeThinke for WAR CRIMES! Arrest FreeThinke for WAR CRIMES! Arrest FreeThinke for WAR CRIMES! Arrest FreeThinke for WAR CRIMES!

    3. Listen, Gladys, any more of this petulant, pouting, pinko palaver from your putrid posterior, and I'll have you turned over to the tender mercies of ISIS.

      Your silly little Vaudeville Routine has already grown stale.

      Either BEGONE or be BANISHED. Go take your hatchet and break up a saloon somewhere.

    4. That ought to do wonders toward dispelling the acute biliousness that characterizes your unfortunate disposition.

      Good GOD, woman! you sound worse than Ema Nymton -- and that IS an insult, believe me.

  7. You would threaten to turn me over to ISIS? I would EAGERLY throw myself upon their MERCY rather than have to rely on YOUR displaying any GRACE towards your fellow man!


    1. And your mischaracterization of the gentle peace-loving defenders of the Palestinian and other oppressed people has been duly noted!

    2. I'll buy you a one way ticket to Syria or Iran -- your choice. You'll have to parachute in, of course.


  8. Mrs. Grundy you dear old women, have you grown senile?

    1. You, of all people, should be supporting me in my crusade against WARMONGERS like Mr. FreeThinke, for evidently, he has never met a war of DEFENSE he didn't like. Especially if, ala Horatio, it involves returning over a bridge of no-return! What DUPLICITY! He probably believes that we were ATTACKED in the Gulf of Tonkin, or that we didn't STARVE the Japanese into attacking us at Pearl Harbor! It's disgusting the length an apologist won't go for war!

      No WAR is EVER "justified".

    2. ...and WAR is NEVER the A.N.S.W.E.R. to a properly formed and phrased question.

  9. I Think That You Are a Despicable White Supremacist, The Most Despicable Life Form I've Ever Seen., and Trust Me, I Know a Bit about These Things

    1. Hey Twinkie Dink,

      Of course you know about despicable racists... You're a leftist.

      Democrats have done more to keep minorities down than Hitler!

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. And you think you have nothing in common with pop culture FT, but this very poem was featured in the movie Oblivion with Tom Cruise, well not all of it mind you but a goodly portion, the most prominent being:

    "To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late;
    And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,
    For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods,

    And for all those condemning Horatius' valiant act, you obviously aren't from the defended side of the bridge. Keep also this in mind, if you have nothing worth dying for, you have nothing worth living for either.

    1. I believe I self-sacrifice for the sake of others, but not in martyrdom.

      Life is for living not dying. Death will come soon enough. Deliberately courting it strikes me as the heart of foolishness.

      However, "When Duty calls and says, Thou must," the Youth replies, "I can."

      The story of Horatius is likely apocryphal -- or at least highly exaggerated through centuries of Oral Tradition, but the nearly complete lack of regard for heroism, sacrifice, virtue, loyalty, principle, and love of country I see when out and about today frankly disgusts me. That is why I posted this nineteenth-century romantic view of heroism in the ancient world.

      I read it the other day after not having had any contact with it in at least half a century. I was astonished at the sudden flood of emotion that came over me. I did not expect an epic narrative poem about an act of war to be so moving, but it was.

      You can see from the mostly ridiculous response it has drawn how far removed we have become from a world where appreciation of courage born of noble sentiment was still possible.

      I don't hate every aspect of pop culture, but learned long ago that because life is very short, even if we reach old age, there's not much point wasting time away from the finest things left to us from the past -- vast storehouse of inexhaustible wealth that only grows more fascinating -- and more meaningful -- with the passage of time.



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