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Horatius at the Bridge

From the Rock Island Argus, May 13, 1914. By Henry Howland.

Then out spake brave Horatius,
    The captain of the gate:
“Halt! Every mother’s son of you,
    Both friends and foemen wait!
Let not a blow be given
    No matter what the odds,
For the ashes of your sires
    Or the temples of your gods.

“Hew not the bridge, sir consul,
    Please put your ax away;
I’ll later call upon you
    To hew, but not today—
In yon straight path a thousand
    May well be stopped by three;
There I will stand and have command—
    Not now, but presently.”

Then out spake Spurius Lartius,
    A counterfeiter bold:
“Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,
    With thee the bridge I’ll hold!”
And out spake young Herminius,
    A strong-arm artist he:
“I will abide by thy left side
    And keep the bridge with thee.”

“Horatius,” quoth the consul,
    “Behold yon great array;
Why may I not begin to hew,
    Why counsel this delay?
For Romans in Rome’s quarrel
    Spare neither land nor gold,
Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life—
    At least, so I’ve been told.”

“Fool,” answered brave Horatius,
    “Hold off till I say when;
We must await in patience
    The moving picture men!
As soon as they get ready,
    And not till then, cut loose—
We want this scrap recorded
    On films for future use.”

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