Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TARPEIA, by JULIET H. CAMPBELL

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TARPEIA, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Unblushingly the maiden stood
Last Line: Of her reward was built.
Alternate Author Name(s): Lewis, Juliet H.
Subject(s): Rome, Italy; Treason & Traitors; Women

UNBLUSHINGLY the maiden stood, --
Rome's recreant, shameless child!
While round were ranged her country's foes,
Those Sabine warriors wild.

They stood with lips all proudly curl'd,
And brows bent down in ire,
And eyes, that on the traitoress
Flash'd forth their haughty fire,

As though they'd sear her very soul
With their consuming scorn;
Such deep disdain, a noble heart
Had never brook'd or borne.

In his right hand each warrior clasp'd
His blade, all stain'd with gore,
While on his stout left arm, a shield
Of massive weight he bore;

And round that arm a bracelet bright
Was bound -- of shining gold:
'T was for those gleaming bands, that Rome,
Proud boasting Rome, was sold.

All silently they stood, when hark!
Their lord and chieftain speaks:
"Ha! this is well; her just reward
From us, Tarpeia seeks.

Thy heritage -- is Rome's deep hate;
Thy memory -- lasting shame;
And thou hast wedded to a curse
Thy once untarnish'd name

Thy father is the prey of worms,
His life-blood stains my blade;
Thy city is one mighty bier
On which her sons are laid.

Thy home, -- earth does not hold a spot
Loathsome enough for thee,
And one long life of bitter woe,
Of torture, agony,

Were all too blissful for thy lot;
And shall I let thee live,
When anguish, such as thou should'st feel,
This world can never give?

But I have not discharged the debt
From Sabines due to thee: --
Warriors, on your left arms, you bear
The price of treachery!"

He threw to her the bribe, for which
Imperial Rome was lost,
And there upon the traitoress
His heavy shield he toss'd.

She fell beneath it, with one shriek,
One agonizing moan,
While fast the weighty shields were piled,
And golden bracelets thrown.

Buried beneath her infamy,
Crush'd 'neath her weight of guilt;
Her ignominious monument
Of her reward was built.

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