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With meditative brows and downcast eyes
Aeneas and Achates, sad at heart,
mused on unnumbered perils yet to come.
But out of cloudless sky Cythera's Queen
gave sudden signal: from th' ethereal dome
a thunder-peal and flash of quivering fire
tumultuous broke, as if the world would fall,
and bellowing Tuscan trumpets shook the air.
All eyes look up. Again and yet again
crashed the terrible din, and where the sky
looked clearest hung a visionary cloud,
whence through the brightness blazed resounding arms.
All hearts stood still. But Troy's heroic son
knew that his mother in the skies redeemed
her pledge in sound of thunder: so he cried,
“Seek not, my friend, seek not thyself to read
the meaning of the omen. 'T is to me
Olympus calls. My goddess-mother gave
long since her promise of a heavenly sign
if war should burst; and that her power would bring
a panoply from Vulcan through the air,
to help us at our need. Alas, what deaths
over Laurentum's ill-starred host impend!
O Turnus, what a reckoning thou shalt pay
to me in arms! O Tiber, in thy wave
what helms and shields and mighty soldiers slain
shall in confusion roll! Yea, let them lead
their lines to battle, and our league abjure!”
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