I am poor and old and blind; The sun burns me, and the wind Blows through the city gate And covers me with dust From the wheels of the august Justinian the Great. It was for him I chased The Persians o'er wild and waste, As General of the East; Night after night I lay In their camps of yesterday; Their forage was my feast. For him, with sails of red, And torches at mast-head, Piloting the great fleet, I swept the Afric coasts And scattered the Vandal hosts, Like dust in a windy street. For him I won again The Ausonian realm and reign, Rome and Parthenope; And all the land was mine From the summits of Apennine To the shores of either sea. For him, in my feeble age, I dared the battle's rage, To save Byzantium's state, When the tents of Zabergan, Like snow-drifts overran The road to the Golden Gate. And for this, for this, behold! Infirm and blind and old, With gray, uncovered head, Beneath the very arch Of my triumphal march, I stand and beg my bread! Methinks I still can hear, Sounding distinct and near, The Vandal monarch's cry, As, captive and disgraced, With majestic step he paced,-- "All, all is Vanity!" Ah! vainest of all things Is the gratitude of kings; The plaudits of the crowd Are but the clatter of feet At midnight in the street, Hollow and restless and loud. But the bitterest disgrace Is to see forever the face Of the Monk of Ephesus! The unconquerable will This, too, can bear;--I still Am Belisarius!
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