Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
1452. Ave! Nero Imperator
 
By Duffield Osborne
 
 
WHAT! Roses on thy tomb! and was there then
  One who could sorrow o’er thy wretched fate?
One heart that echoed not the cry of men,—
  Its joy and triumph, its contempt and hate?
    One being in all the circle of the lands        5
    Who owed a kindness to thy bloodstained hands?
 
What though thy wrist, adown the chariot course,
  Guided thy bounding charges to the prize!
What though shamed theatres, with plaudits hoarse,
  Extolled thy lyre o’er his that decks the skies!        10
    Is glory won from slaves whose nights are stored
    With dreams of poisoned draught and proffered sword?
 
Nero, poor triumphs these; nor broidered gown,
  Nor ivory car upon the Sacred Way,
Nor laureled imperator’s golded crown        15
  For unwon battles borne in vain display,
    Can win thee worship or adorn a name,
    The scourge of nations—Rome’s imperial shame.
 
But here, where all is silent, where no turn
  Of fear or greed can prompt the courtier’s art,        20
Thine only glory hangs upon thine urn
  To tell that thou hast triumphed o’er a heart;
    And souls of flowers, when mortal lips are dumb,
    May plead for thy poor shade in days to come.
 

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