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And in the blast and bray of the long horn
And serpent-throated bugle, undulated
The banner : anon to meet us lightly pranced
Three captains out ; nor ever had I seen
Such thews of men : the midmost and the highest

Was Arac : all about his motion clung

The shadow of his sister, as the beam

Of the East, that play'd upon them, made them glance

Like those three stars of the airy Giant's zone,
That glitter burnish'd by the frosty dark ;

And as the fiery Sirius alters hue,

And bickers into red and emerald, shone

Their morions, wash'd with morning, as they came.

And I that prated peace, when first I heard

War-music, felt the blind wildbeast of force,

Whose home is in the sinews of a man,

Stir in me as to strike : then took the king
His three broad sons; with now a wandering hand

And now a pointed finger, told them all :

A common light of smiles at our disguise
Broke from their lips, and, ere the windy jest

Had labour'd down within his ample lungs,

The genial giant, Arac, roll'd himself

Thrice in the saddle, then burst out in words.

• Our land invaded, life and soul ! himself

Your captive, yet my father wills not war :
And, life ! myself I care not, war or no :
But then this question of your troth remains ;
And there's a downright honest meaning in her :
She flies too high, she flies too high ! and yet
She ask'd but space and fairplay for her scheme ;
She prest and prest it on me—I myself,
What know I of these things ? but, life and soul !
I thought her half-right talking of her wrongs;

Yet, right or wrong, I care not: this is all,

I stand upon her side : she made me swear it
Life--and with solemn rites by candle-light-
Swear by St. something-I forget her name-

Her that talk'd down the fifty wisest men ;

She was a princess too ; and so I swore.
Come, this is all ; she will not : waive your claim :
If not, the foughten field, what else, at once
Decides it, life! against my father's will.'

I lagg'd in answer loth to render up
My precontract, and loth by brainless war

To cleave the rift of difference deeper yet ;

Till one of those two brothers, half aside

And fingering at the hair about his lip,
To prick us on to combat · Like to like !
The woman's garment hid the woman's heart.'

A taunt that clench'd his


like a blow !

For fiery-short was Cyril's counter-scoff,
And sharp I answer'd, touch'd upon the point
Where idle boys are cowards to their shame,
• Decide it here: why not? we are three to three.'

Then spake the third • But three

three ? no more ?

No more, and in our noble sister's cause?

More, more, for honour : every captain waits

Hungry for honour, angry for his king.
More, more, some fifty on a side, that each
May breathe himself, and quick ! by overthrow

Of these or those, the question settled die.'

• Yea' answered I for this wild wreath of air,

This flake of rainbow flying on the highest
Foam of men's deeds—this honour, if ye will.

It needs must be for honour if at all :

Since, what decision ? if we fail, we fail,
And if we win, we fail : she would not keep
Her compact.' Life! but we will send to her,'
Said Arac, ‘worthy reasons why she should
Bide by this issue : let our missive thro',

you shall have her answer by the word.'

• Boys !' shriek'd the old king, but vainlier than a hen

To her false daughters in the pool ; for none

Regarded ; neither seem'd there more to say :
Back rode we to my father's camp, and found
He thrice had sent a herald to the gates,
To learn if Ida yet would cede our claim,
Or by denial flush her babbling wells
With her own people's life : three times he went :
The first, he blew and blew, but none appear’d :

He battered at the doors ; none came : the next,

An awful voice withi

had warn'd him thence :

The third, and those eight daughters of the plough Came sallying thro' the gates, and caught his hair,

And so belabour'd him on rib and cheek

They made him wild: not less one glance he caught

Thro' open

doors of Ida station’d there

Unshaken, clinging to her purpose, firm
Tho' compass’d by two armies and the noise
Of arms; and standing like a stately Pine

Set in a cataract on an island-crag,

When storm is on the heights, and right and left
Suck'd from the dark heart of the long hills roll

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