Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
 
III. War
Sempronius’ Speech for War
Joseph Addison (1672–1719)
 
From “Cato,” Act II. Sc. 1.

  MY voice is still for war.
Gods! can a Roman senate long debate
Which of the two to choose, slavery or death?
No; let us rise at once, gird on our swords,
And at the head of our remaining troops        5
Attack the foe, break through the thick array
Of his thronged legions, and charge home upon him.
Perhaps some arm, more lucky than the rest,
May reach his heart, and free the world from bondage.
Rise! Fathers, rise! ’t is Rome demands your help:        10
Rise, and revenge her slaughtered citizens,
Or share their fate! The corpse of half her senate
Manures the fields of Thessaly, while we
Sit here deliberating, in cold debate,
If we should sacrifice our lives to honor,        15
Or wear them out in servitude and chains.
Rouse up, for shame! our brothers of Pharsalia
Point at their wounds, and cry aloud,—“To battle!”
Great Pompey’s shade complains that we are slow,
And Scipio’s ghost walks unrevenged amongst us.        20
 
 
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