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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Strangely, The Illusion LIES


The human mind....and in this  specific case this would mean MY human mind in particular...can often play strange tricks on their owner and in this case that would be an understatement to say the least. The challenges and trials inherent in one who is living with a long term, life altering illness are far to numerous to even begin to count. Let us just say that in my nearly 52 years of life & living...I have never come close to the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual hardship and heart-break that I have experienced during this injury and subsequent illness of the last 18 hellish months.

You can even start to believe the foolish notions spinning round in your head.  I know that I can find it difficult at moments to know where reality ends and fantasy begins. 

One area that is not fantasy is the over year long infection that I have been fighting along side the injury, surgery and now subsequent Non-Union of my right ankle. Because of a communication mix-p between the doctor's office and myself, I did not get my refill request in on time for my anti-biotic today. I just took the last dose that I have. Over the past 18 months I have lived in a state of near-terror of  running out of the medicine and now for thew second or third time that night-mare has indeed come to pass.

This is where I am going to challenge my mind to take control over the matter...at least until I can get a refill. Typically in this scenario I would feel quite panicky to be faced with the prospect of an entire night and morning without that med. Yet tonight...strangely i have felt completely calm as if I know to the very depths of my soul that my need for this anti-biotic is nothing but an ILLUSION. And I feel almost certain that I can make it through this night without falling so terribly ill.

I most definitely will answer that question for the READER, come morning time.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fighting The GOOD FIGHT Begins Right NOW!



I would not consider myself naive when it comes to the reality of this life or living. I have experienced a vast variety of things in my nearly  52 years on the planet...good things, bad things...the surreal and unbelievable, special and not so much. Nothing truly surprises me now or catches me off balance.

And I would honestly say the experiences of the past couple of years fall under that assessment as well. Though I never would have predicted the specifics...broken leg/ankle in a household accident, subsequent infection, multiple (read:9!) follow up surgeries, long term IV and oral Anti-Biotic Treatment and now the  decision making dilemma of a lifetime...I am still not really shocked or unhinged by all that is happening.

But not being thrown for a major loop and freaking out about it doesn't necessarily make it natural or routine to decide to have one's right leg removed...even if it's "JUST" below the knee.

I will say that I have naturally traveled far and wide through the various emotional responses and reactions to difficult and challenging turn of events. Lord knows I have been angry, felt really isolated & lost, knowing only the confusion of the unknown and a boat-load of life and mind altering pain. Yes I have been very open on these pages about my emotional & physical reactions, including the temporary and fleeting desire to end my own life for lack of a realistic solution and the unlikely-hood of a permanent healing.

As the song says: Now "what's a POOR BOY to do?" To use a "surfer-esk" description I would say that it has come the time to just get out there and ride the Big-Ass, F**king wave. It's there....it isn't going away so go and ride the mother....who knows...despite the possibility of major pain/torment, death and/or destruction...I might actually discover that I like it and am good at it.

That's right folks...though I have tried to stay positive and true...there are times that I have failed in that endeavor mightily and slipped into self-pity and feeling sorry for myself. I shall be honest here...considering what's happening, I am NOT going to be too hard on myself for that. Truth is that this situation whether it be "God's Will" or not totally SUCKS and it is not really natural, common or to be "expected". So I am going to continue to cut myself some slack about it.

But the reality is for me that I need to sh*t or get off the freaking pot. Time to acknowledge, confront and then embrace the damn MONKEY On Me Back. I need to begin the acceptance phase...even though I am honestly not yet sure about what I am going to do: Amputate the right leg below the knee or try another Fusion, albeit a much more time consuming, painful and risky procedure then the last attempt.

Either way I am not quitting, shirking my responsibility to live my life fully or dodging reality through the old habits of drug/alcohol abuse. Trust me...the realities of more long term painful recovery or amputation pale in comparison to once again attempting to survive the absolute HORROR of active addiction. God willing...it is not ever going to be an option.

I have my Faith and I will let all of you in on a wee little secret...though I have truly been tested to the outer limits of my tolerance and endurance....that once little microscopic sliver of Faith I began with has blown-up into an absolute mountain of it today. 

So the fight begins and I will Freakin' FIGHT...for my life, my sanity, for Kim and lastly....for MYSELF. I have no way of truly knowing if this is just the beginning of more pain and torture or I am embarking on a journey that will ultimately Define and MARK ME for LIFE.

No Matter what....I am more then ready to begin, AGAIN.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Early Morning Meandering

As I sit here this morning, it tis but impossible NOT TO PONDER ALL THAT IS HAPPENING to me right now.  And that is to be expected. I really figured this would be a slam dunk for amputation....ah, it turns out to not be as freaking simple as that :/.  I find myself going back and forth not wanting to make such monumental decision. I keep thinking there should'd more options and much more time. YET the sand runneth ever so quickly from the hour glass of life. In reality I know more then ever that God is present in my life today and though I have questioned why this is happening to me I know there is always a higher purpose. I have a much higher sensitivity to the needs and wants and hurts of others. And I am grateful for that gift of caring and selflessness. Im the better for it for sure.....

Monday, July 21, 2014

Resignation: Not Sure How Quiet....


I suspect that I have mentioned this before in a previous post but it is certainly relevant in light of the recent post: "Cutting To The Chase". Suffering from a serious, long time illness is isolating. Well being faced with the decision on whether one should amputate their right leg below the knee is rather isolating as well.

No one else can really help one make such a decision. Fact is I would probably resent anyone who even presumed to try...no matter how good their intentions were. Only the leg owner can truly decide and even then it is not an easy or simple process. Oh God I never wanted it to get this f-ing far. No shame here folks...I am afraid.

More then anything I just want to close my eyes and have it all just go away....it's a bad....bad dream. I have worked through so many different stages of feelings just trying to accept my situation the way it was. Though deep down I always knew this was a possibility...I never really thought it would happen. I figured we would heal enough hat I would find it acceptable...but it just didn't happen that way, unfortunately.

I will follow this up with more detail but basically I met with the Docs and they determined that without a doubt the ankle is a definite "Non Union"...meaning that it did not fuse together...plus I still have an infection. My choices are basically this: I can go through this fusion process all over again and use an even more robust hardware or have it amputated. Some choice...eh?!

This is a terrible blow.....but there it is.....that is what I have to work with so what can one do?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Choking Out Another Goodby

It was indeed another  tough moment....having to say goodbye to my daughter Chelsea and my three grand sons. A real heat breaking, ball~ busting kind of experience.

These goodbyes get more difficult each and every time we do it by the way. I suppose that's natural.....

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cutting To The Chase....TRUTH Wins!


In my life today....very few things are more important then TRUTH and The Truth. Getting honest with myself after years of denial, misinformation and out right lying was the critical piece to my eventual recovery from Alcoholism/Addiction. It was not an easy nor pleasant process....there were parts of me that were not very nice or likable looking back on it.

The reason I mention this now is that admitting my mistakes and Identifying areas where I have gotten off the right track are just as important to the quality of my life today as it was in those delicate, chaotic early days of my recovery.

Most readers know that I have been dealing with a serious, life and LIMB threatening illness that is now going on it's second full year in duration. Every aspect of my life: Physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual has been catastrophically impacted way beyond the point of ever totally healing. It has and continues to have scarred me for life.

I know some of these posts here on SSS are not always pleasant but I must remind the Reader that the original and still current rational and reason this blog exists is to promote my own personal healing by providing an outlet for the daily TRUTH of my day to day life to be revealed then shared on these very private and personal pages.

I have written frequently about being pushed to the limit by this ordeal to the point where I will admit that not living anymore had started to sound better at times then the alternative. In this instance there was no real risk that I would actually carry out this plan but My Soul was aching to the core and I could do nothing to stop it.

I began to doubt God then actually accepted the fact that this was his will for me:To hurt and punishing me to the bitter end.

In addition to feeling abandoned or worse...HATED by God, I started to resent my friends and some family members who in my distorted illness influenced way of thinking were coasting through life, traveling, spending money and other then dealing with a sick kid/grand-kid or occasional death of a friend/family member have known no real adversity or pain. While I was financially wiped out (nearly $100,000 worth of OUT OF POCKET medical bills) they ride their motorcycles, go camping, go on cruises and trips out east while I no longer have two nickels to rub together.

They would compound their crime in my mind by suggesting that mere prayer or faith would overcome my malady and pain. It's easy to have faith when you're riding the Gravy-Train every day. Or so I believed....

I fed off the resentment and self-pity...Anger fueling my every thought. This scenario seemed to justify my mistrust and dislike of these Christian HYPOCRITES that i hated and mocked for so long. I was slipping away...heading once again down a tortured path of rage and resentment toward another go at suicide...and who knows...this one may have ended in my death instead of a coma and long-term hospitalization.

And then one of those pesky Hypocrites wrote me a Face-Book message referencing Psalm 18 and how she believed that was relevant to my current ordeal. She continued on about the fact that there was hope and some how through the rage I began to see what was happening to me.

That my Friends is the difference in my life today and my life over 8 years ago...Today I have people in my life who love me enough to step into my world of CHAOS and Madness and directly confront the evil that was devouring me from the inside out.

I cannot begin to express how thankful I am that instead of relying on the old stand by: "Praying" that you see so often on Facebook that she took the risk to wade into the fray and reach and pull me back from the ABYSS. God Bless you M O-S...

Before any one gets upset...I very strongly believe in the power of prayer and appreciate the fact that people all over the world (in my particular case) are praying for me. But like anything else, all of us who believe can get where we don't know what to say to someone and instead of not saying anything at all rely on that old stand by..."Praying" with no other expression of care or concern. 

The problem with that is that no matter how heart felt and sincere that promise of prayer may be...seeing it said over and over again devalues and cheapens the notion of it to some of us who have been ill for a long period of time. It starts to seem like a cliche. This lesson most certainly applies to yours truly as as well as I am guilty of this as much as anyone. I can honestly say it has been a cathartic realization for me too.

In closing I admit that I have learned for myself the danger of resentment and self pity. I do not know when or IF this illness is ever going to go away. But  whether I believe it or not...God is still there and the key is to cling tightly to the promise of HIS great LOVE and our eventual Salvation.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Invisible Sun (A Lonely Glimpse into Human Suffering)


Never in my life have I experienced the feeling of utter powerlessness as I have several times in the last few days. For the last 90 minutes or so I hadn't the energy to move from the floor of my bedroom where I had to just stop and lie down because I no longer had the strength to proceed the last 3 feet to my bed. I wanted to move...to get up yet I could not. I recall having the thought: "Is this dying?" And I had no answer because I considered it possible that it just might be....

I cannot keep doing this....clinging desperately to a fantasy of recovery....of HOPE. I'm kidding myself....I am, I know that I am. I repeatedly find myself thinking and saying this. I realize this sounds quite dramatic but I exaggerate NOT...I am far to fatigued right now to find food or or even go to the rest room.

And then a slight uptick in the energy level...just enough to rise, ever so slowly and make my move toward mobility. The hopelessness lessons but never releases it's iron grip on me...it will be a fight to death...I can only cling to the slight possibility that it isn't my own.

I turn my face to the Invisible Sun and pray for the light...the heat, to become the strength to once again...persevere...survive for just one more day.

Monday, July 14, 2014

"Being Grandpa"....


My three grandson's are visiting us for nearly a week with their Mother (my daughter Chelsea) and Son-in-Law Joel. I can honestly say it was just what the proverbial doctor ordered to bolster the tattered emotional state I have been in lately due to this endless medical ordeal with it's pain and trying uncertainty.

I just wanted to share a few photos taken during their very first day here....









Saturday, July 12, 2014

WAITING...Less Then Patiently.


Life is full at the moment. And as "they" say..."It waits for know one" yet I am having trouble keeping up. Why? Because after near 18 months I am still fighting this infection and now I discover that my right ankle is swelling up to proportions equal too my pre-FUSION days. What this means is that after nearly 7 months of super painful recovery I am actually no better off then I was before I had the surgery.

To say that I am discouraged is putting it rather mildly.

The good news here is actually great news and most likely will delay the inevitable for a week at least....my grandsons will be here starting tomorrow with there mother my daughter Chelsea and their dad Joel tomorrow for nearly a week

I can hold on for a week.

I will do my best to update this week but I know IO haven't been a very good corespondent lately. Oh well....until the next time.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Horatius by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859)

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, and 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 to 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.