Death or dishonor, which is best to taste?
A Roman sentinel in Pompeii,
When God’s hot anger laid that city waste,
Answered the question, and resolved to die.
His duty was, upon his post to bide
Till the relief came, let what might betide.
He stood forgotten by the fleeing guard,
Choosing that part which is the bitterest still,
His face with its fixed purpose cold and hard,
Cut in the resolute granite of his will.