The broils that from Metellus date,
The secret springs, the dark intrigues,
The freaks of Fortune, and the great
Confederate in disastrous leagues,
And arms with uncleansed slaughter red,
A work of danger and distrust,
You treat, as one on fire should tread,
Scarce hid by treacherous ashen crust.
Let Tragedy's stern muse be mute
Awhile; and when your order'd page
Has told Rome's tale, that buskin'd foot
Again shall mount the Attic stage,
Pollio, the pale defendant's shield,
In deep debate the senate's stay,
The hero of Dalmatic field
By Triumph crown'd with deathless bay.
E'en now with trumpet's threatening blare
You thrill our ears; the clarion brays;
The lightnings of the armour scare
The steed, and daunt the rider's gaze.
Methinks I hear of leaders proud
With no uncomely dust distain'd,
And all the world by conquest bow'd,
And only Cato's soul unchain'd.
Yes, Juno and the powers on high
That left their Afric to its doom,
Have led the victors' progeny
As victims to Jugurtha's tomb.
What field, by Latian blood-drops fed,
Proclaims not the unnatural deeds
It buries, and the earthquake dread
Whose distant thunder shook the Medes?
What gulf, what river has not seen
Those sights of sorrow? nay, what sea
Has Daunian carnage yet left green?
What coast from Roman blood is free?
But pause, gay Muse, nor leave your play
Another Cean dirge to sing;
With me to Venus' bower away,
And there attune a lighter string.
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