If we do not hold the wall

Then that Eternal City, that land where your fathers died, that land of Aeneas’ pride, your home, yes, that Rome— 

That Rome will fall.

 

If we do not stand our ground and guard the land those brothers found, then the Gauls

Will scale the walls, will sack your home, will steal your bride, will take your home—that’s it, your Rome— 

We hold the wall.

 

If we do not keep foreign treasures, each beyond all worth and measure, held in trust, (for safekeeping, by their betters), well protected within city walls, 

Then our temples will be looted, and all our Gods will get booted and our white towers will be overthrown, and Rome, that’s right, your Rome—  

That Rome will fall. 

 

When the tweeting, when the twiddling of Nero’s fiery, fractious fiddling is drowned out by the singing, by that ringing clarion call

Of the Vandal, and the Goth, and the Gaul—then Rome, the Rome that was your home— 

That Rome will fall.

 

Out of the walls they built, out of the seven-tiered tombs of Troy, the barbarian dead rise, draw veils across the stars, and cry out our curtain call,

Those once silent sullen shades are now humble hungry mean, and they ravenously dream—of a Rome where everyone is free, of a Rome that never has been yet but still could be, a home

We hold the wall (but that’s all, that’s all.)

 

The dead mumble in the dark. They say that without the wall

There would be no citizens and no barbarians, only one home, a single Rome.

Why hold the wall?

When this Rome will, (when this Rome must,) fall.

julius caesar marble statue

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