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Never man sigh’d truer breath

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I had known not that the red tide of war
That may drive men and horse to their nature
By very nature turn as sweet as wine:
Mother's wine, the feminine's fruitful drink
I now drink from thy mouth, to the last dregs
Of thy martial arms and thy stout forelegs
Thou hast march'st upon my city of birth;
I once was a Roman but Rome is fell,
Plagued o'er with beasts who dream they are men
With men's speech and men's haste of desire.
In truth they would craft a most monstrous thing
And dress it in civil impunity.

Thy tongue hath thorns astride. Speak not of Rome!
All I would desire of Rome is here.
I wax'd of mine arms about thy body,
My love a shard of hot metal in forge.
My ambition hath been for godless Rome
Alack tonight my eyes are sword wounded.
Many men stand guard. I see only thee.

Thy valour is strong.

My blood runs stronger.

Tullus Aufidius, what love I bear
For the Volscians hath been thy doing.
I remove my glabius and my shield.
Walking before you, I am bare chest'd.
Would'st thou take the measure of my embrace
And knowing verily, return my pride?

Most marvelous do I find thy pride.
I have most cause to touch thy burn'd skin
Temper'd by that most ancient of causes
Which poets call war but I call living.
Thy life is parcel'd on thy nearing breath.
Thy kiss is the worth of an army's cry.
Caius Marcius, put thy hand more south.

What is this I find?
My enemy as true fond as my wife.

Speak not of thy tender, virtuous wife
When thy hand grasps my boyish eagerness.
This is Antium; our methods are such.
Thy hand now hath learned the Volscian way.
I am a general of Volscians.
I command you—ah!

Command? Hast thou not sworn as my brother?
Have we drunk not the peace of good welcome
That great Mars himself would smile upon us?

Nay, not Mars but Bacchus. I spoke in jest.
Thou would'st make the motley world a gray nag.
Save for thy hand, my brother; move thy hand
And I shall move with thee, bend my sore back
Whereof warlike pain spins and turns, sweetly
To profound pleasure.

Here thou come'st to grasp me in reply,
Thy counter-attack to my first offense
If such a matter may be termed offense;
I would rather name it a city plunder
That I have strung in my nightly wanders
Yet ne'er hoped to see't in the flesh.

The flesh hath joys the spirit cannot taste.
Settle, my brother, betwixt my two legs.
Or, if be thy desire, lift them up.
Thy shoulders know to carry heavy weights.
Now thou hast plunder'd me well and truly.
Thou growest in me.

The measure of men; how many before me?


I will unman him.

Thy jealousy makes for wilder bedding.
I am speared and from hence on tomorrow
Volscians will turn a bright eye and ask
Why their general doth walk so slowly.
I shall answer them distinct, to a man:
The taker of cities hath taken me.


By thy ravaging cry, thou spill'st so soon?
No matter; the night is maidenly yet.