Bradley T. Van Deusen

Bradley T. Van Deusen

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Ave Imperiatrix! Ave Roma!
Table of Contents


Page 26-27


Being a tale of those days when the bronze Eagles
flew from Rimini and the Little Painted People and
the Winged Hats clamored against the Great Wall.

* * * *

The Great Wall
Was a tawny thing streaked by purple shadows.
Beyond the Ditch of Iron
Into the heather-laced
Faintly purple land
Of the Picts, the Little Painted People
Pointed the imperial arm
Of the Goddess
The Dea Roman -

"Ave Imperiatrix! Ave Roma!"

In the tower room
Where the Tyrian purple hangings
Hid the bitterly bleak walls
Where the royal, rich furs
Masked the brutal floors
He lay - Captain of the Wall!
Centurion of the Second Cohort
Of the Sixteenth Legion
Of Imperial Rome!
His bronze corslet lay forgotten
His sword and the great plumed helm
Had long since rung upon the floor.
To him
Captain of the Wall
Officer of the Legions
They brought a prisoner
Taken from the ships of the Winged Hats
A North woman! A white maid with tawny hair
A slender, supple girl
Of white ivory and fire
With cool, unafraid eyes
With fiercely bitter, passionate mouth.
Her hair was glorious against the purple hangings
Glorious as it was reflected
Fom the burnished armor of the Guard.
Her body was white as peeled willow
Her body was cool as pity
Her body was rigid as a white Ionic column
Held between the ruggedf bulwark
Of the Guard.

He dismissed them curtly,
"Leave the woman."
Their shields clashed
But he did not hear.

The light was blinding
Upon the empty helm
But he did not see.
The great wolves howled beyond the Wall.
In the camp a woman screamed.
The clash and hail of the Guard
Echoed along the Wall.

In the tower room there was silence.
In the tower room there was silence.

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