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Noised swiftly through the little town it flies
that to the precinct of the Tuscan King
armed horsemen speed. Pale mothers in great fear
unceasing pray; for panic closely runs
in danger's steps; the war-god drawing nigh
looms larger; and good sire Evander now
clings to the hand of his departing son
and, weeping without stay, makes sad farewell:
“O, that great Jove would give me once again
my vanished years! O, if such man I were,
as when beneath Praeneste's wall I slew
the front ranks of her sons, and burned for spoil
their gathered shields on my triumph day;
or when this right hand hurled king Erulus
to shades below, though—terrible to tell —
Feronia bore him with three lives, that thrice
he might arise from deadly strife o'erthrown,
and thrice be slain—yet all these lives took I,
and of his arms despoiled him o'er and o'er:
not now, sweet son (if such lost might were mine),
should I from thy beloved embrace be torn;
nor could Mezentius with insulting sword
do murder in my sight and make my land
depopulate and forlorn. O gods in Heaven,
and chiefly thou whom all the gods obey,
have pity, Jove, upon Arcadia's King,
and hear a father's prayer: if your intent
be for my Pallas a defence secure,
if it be writ that long as I shall live,
my eyes may see him, and my arms enfold,
I pray for life, and all its ills I bear.
But if some curse, too dark to tell, impend
from thee, O Fortune blind! I pray thee break
my thread of miserable life to-day;
to-day, while fear still doubts and hope still smiles
on the unknown to-morrow, as I hold
thee to my bosom, dearest child, who art
my last and only joy; to-day, before
th' intolerable tidings smite my ears.”
Such grief the royal father's heart outpoured
at this last parting; the strong arms of slaves
lifted him, fallen in swoon, and bore him home.

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