Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.

Rome, Streets of

Via Sacra

By Samuel Rogers (1763–1855)

(From Italy)

ALONG the Sacred Way

Hither the triumph came, and, winding round

With acclamation, and the martial clang

Of instruments, and cars laden with spoil,

Stopped at the sacred stair that then appeared,

Then through the darkness broke, ample, star-bright,

As though it led to heaven. ’T was night; but now;

A thousand torches, turning night to day,

Blazed, and the victor, springing from his seat,

Went up, and, kneeling as in fervent prayer,

Entered the Capitol. But what are they

Who at the foot withdraw, a mournful train

In fetters? And who, yet incredulous,

Now gazing wildly round, now on his sons,

On those so young, well pleased with all they see,

Staggers along, the last? They are the fallen,

Those who were spared to grace the chariot-wheels;

And there they parted, where the road divides,

The victor and the vanquished,—there withdrew;

He to the festal board, and they to die.