Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CRESCENTIUS, by LETITIA ELIZABETH LANDON

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CRESCENTIUS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I look'd upon his brow; no sign / of guilt or fear was there
Last Line: Her patriot and her latest one.
Alternate Author Name(s): L. E. L.; Maclean, Letitia

I LOOK'D upon his brow, -- no sign
Of guilt or fear was there;
He stood as proud by that death-shrine
As even o'er Despair
He had a power; in his eye
There was a quenchless energy,
A spirit that could dare
The deadliest form that death could take,
And dare it for the daring's sake.

He stood, the fetters on his hand, --
He raised them haughtily;
And had that grasp been on the brand,
It could not wave on high
With freer pride than it waved now.
Around he look'd with changeless brow
On many a torture nigh:
The rack, the chain, the axe, the wheel,
And, worst of all, his own red steel.

I saw him once before; he rode
Upon a coal-black steed,
And tens of thousands throng'd the road
And bade their warrior speed.
His helm, his breast-plate, were of gold,
And graved with many a dent that told
Of many a soldier's deed;
The sun shone on his sparkling mail,
And danced his snow-plume on the gale.

But now he stood chain'd and alone,
The headsman by his side,
The plume, the helm, the charger, gone;
The sword which had defied
The mightiest, lay broken near;
And yet no sign or sound of fear
Came from that lip of pride;
And never king or conqueror's brow
Wore higher look than his did now.

He bent beneath the headsman's stroke
With an uncover'd eye;
A wild shout from the numbers broke
Who throng'd to see him die.
It was a people's loud acclaim,
The voice of anger and of shame,
A nation's funeral cry,
Rome's wail above her only son,
Her patriot and her latest one.

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