An Epic Poem that Macaulay wrote from Ooty

(Some of you may have read in school or college Lord Macaulay’s poems called Lays of Ancient Rome which recount heroic episodes from early Roman history. But not many of us know that many of these poems were written in Ooty. As Macaulay says, ‘The plan occurred to me in the jungle at the foot of the Neilgherry hills; and most of the verses were made during a dreary sojourn at Ootacamund and a disagreeable voyage in the Bay of Bengal’.

Given below are excerpts from a popular poem. Italians are now fighting the deadly corona with the same spirit of bravery).

The Poem is about the legendary Horatius Cocles who during a war defended a bridge alone, and perished in the waters.

“Haul down the bridge, Sir Consul,

          With all the speed ye may;

     I, with two more to help me,

          Will hold the foe in play.

     In yon strait path a thousand

          May well be stopped by three.

     Now who will stand on either hand,

          And keep the bridge with me?”

     Then out spake Spurius Lartius;

          A Ramnian proud was he:

     “Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,

          And keep the bridge with thee.”

     And out spake strong Herminius;

          Of Titian blood was he:

     “I will abide on thy left side,

          And keep the bridge with thee.”

     “Horatius,” quoth the Consul,

          “As thou sayest, so let it be.”

     And straight against that great array

          Forth went the dauntless Three.

     For Romans in Rome’s quarrel

          Spared neither land nor gold,

     Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,

          In the brave days of old.

Nilgiri Documentation Centre

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