Letitia Elizabeth Landon

(1802-1838 / England)

Hannibal's Oath


AND the night was dark and calm,
There was not a breath of air,
The leaves of the grove were still,
As the presence of death were there;

Only a moaning sound
Came from the distant sea,
It was as if, like life,
It had no tranquillity.

A warrior and a child
Pass'd through the sacred wood,
Which, like a mystery,
Around the temple stood.

The warrior's brow was worn
With the weight of casque and plume,
And sun-burnt was his cheek,
And his eye and brow were gloom.

The child was young and fair,
But the forehead large and high,
And the dark eyes' flashing light
Seem'd to feel their destiny.

They enter'd in the temple,
And stood before the shrine,
It stream'd with the victim's blood,
With incense and with wine.

The ground rock'd beneath their feet,
The thunder shook the dome,
But the boy stood firm, and swore
Eternal hate to Rome.

There's a page in history
O'er which tears of blood were wept,
And that page is the record
How that oath of hate was kept.

Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010

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