When I was poorly my mother read to me
from Macaulay’s ‘Lays of Ancient Rome’:
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…”
He lived, was gifted land, and made in bronze.
But what I remember from those sickly days
is an image of the Captain, sword drawn,
and his two comrades. Behind them,
a second line of defence, they had fired
the only bridge across the Tiber.
Their duty was to stay the baying hordes
charging down the hillside towards them.
I see them now, three figures in a fiery
valley filled with flickering shadows,
waiting for the enemy.