American Old Time Song Lyrics: 19 The Gladiator
Theater, Music-Hall, Nostalgic, Irish & Historic Old Songs, Volume 19
By J. A. Jones.
They led a lion from his den.
The lord of Africa's sun-scorched plain;
And there he stood, stern foe of men,
And shook his flowing mane.
There's not of all Rome's heroes ten
That dare abide this game.
His bright eye nought of lightning lacked;
His voice was like the cataract.
They brought a dark-haired man along,
Whose limbs with greaves of brass were bound;
Youthful he seemed, and bold, and strong,
And yet unscathed of wound.
Blithely he stepped among the throng,
And carelessly threw around
A dark eye, such as courts the path
Of him who braves a Ducian's wrath.
Then shouted the plebeian crowd,-
Rung the glad galleries with the sound;
And from the throne there spake aloud
A voice,- Be the bold man unbound!
And by Rome's scepter, yet unbowed,
By Rome, earth's monarch crowned,
Who dares the bold, the unequal strife,
Though doomed to death, shall save his life.
Joy was upon that dark man's face;
And thus, with laughing eye, spake he;
"Loose ye the Lord of Zaara's waste,
And let my arms be free:
' He has a martial heart,' thou sayest;-
But, oh! who will not be
A hero when he fights for life,
For home And country, babes and wife?
"And thus I for the strife prepare:
The Thracian falchion to me bring,
But ask th' imperial leave to spare
The shield,-a useless thing.
Were I a Samnite's rage to dare.
Then o'er me would I fling
The broad orb; but to lion's wrath
The shield were but a sword of lath."
And he has bared his shining blade.
And springs he on the shaggy foe;
Dreadful the strife, but briefly played;-
The desert-king lies low:
His long and loud death-howl is made;
A nd there must end the show.
And when the multitude were calm,
The favored freed man took the palm.
"Kneel down, Rome's emperor beside?"
He knelt, that dark man;-o'er his brow
Was thrown a wreath in crimson dyed;
And fair words gild it now:
"Thou art the bravest youth that ever tried
To lay a lion low;
And from our presence forth thou go'st
To lead the Dacians of our host."
Then flushed his cheek, but not with pride
And grieved and gloomily spake he:
"My cabin stands where blithely glide
Proud Danube's waters to the sea:
I have a young and blooming bride,
And I have children three:-
No Roman wealth or rank can give
Such joy as in their arms to live.
"My wife sits at the cabin door,
With throbbing heart and swollen eyes;-
While tears her cheek are coursing o'er,
She speaks of sundered ties;
She bids my tender babes deplore
The death their father dies;
She tells these jewels of my home,
I bleed to please the rout of Rome.
"I cannot let those cherubs stray
Without their sire's protecting care; .
And I would chase the griefs away
Which cloud my wedded fair."
The monarch spoke; the guards obey;
And gates unclosed are:
He's gone!-No golden bribes divide
The Dacian from his babes and bride.