Give the Christian to the Lion

Lines on the Martyrdom of a Roman Centurion.
"Give the Christian to the lion!"
Wildly cry the Roman throng; "
Yes, to Afric' tawny lion!"
Shout the warriors bold and strong.
"Let the hungry lion tear him!"
Echoed glad the laughing crowd;
"Fling him—fling him to the lion!"
shriek'd the noble matron loud.
" give the christian to the lion."
" Give the Christian to the lion!"
Spake in accents grave and slow,
From their curule seats of honor,
Senators in goodly row.
Then from flight to flight, redouble
Shout, and cheer, and laughter peal
Till the giant Colosseum, '.
Neath the tumult seemed to reel;
And the clamors of the people
Through the Arch of Titus roll,
All adown the Roman forum,
To the towering capitol.
Then a pause—but hush, and listen,
Whence that wild and savage yell?,
Tis the lion of Sahara,
Raging in his grated cell!
Fierce with famine and with fetter,
Shaketh he his tawny mane!
For his living prey impatient,
Struggling 'gainst his bar and chain.
But a voice is stealing faintly
From the next cell, chill and dim;
'Tis the death-doom'd Christian, chanting
Soft and low his dying hymn!
With uplifted hands he prayeth
For the men that ask his blood!
With a holy faith he pleadeth
For that shouting multitude.
They are waiting! Lift the grating -
Comes he forth, serene, to die:
With a radiance round his forehead,
And a luster in his eye.
Never! when 'midst Roman legions,
With the helmet on his brow,
Press'd he to the front of battle
With a firmer step than now.
Lift the grating! He is waiting.
Let the savage lion come!
He can only rend a passage
For the soul to reach her home?