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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