As the retreating Bructeri began to burn their own 
possessions, to deny to the Romans every sustenance but 

        a flying column sent by Germanicus
commanded by Lucius Stertinius

routed them;
        and there, discovered amid plunder and the dead,

was the Eagle of the nineteenth 
legion, lost with Varus.

The Romans now
brought to the land of the Bructeri, —to whatever lay
between the river Ems and the river Lippe, 
to the very edge of their territory, — 

until they reached at last

the Teutoburgian Wood,
                                                in whose darkness

Varus and the remains of his fifteen thousand men, 
it was said, lay unburied.

Germanicus then conceived a desire
to honor with obsequies these unburied warriors whose
massacre once filled Augustus himself with rage and 
shame, — 
                with hope or fear every corner of the Empire, —

while the least foot soldier, facing alien 
terrain, was overcome with pity when he

thought of family, friends, the sudden 
reversals of battle, and shared human fate.

First Caecina and his men 
                    ordered to reconnoiter the dismal

treacherous passes, to attempt to build bridges and 
causeways across the uneven, sodden marshland,—

then the rest of the army, witness to scenes 
rending to sight and memory of sight.

Varus’ first camp, with its wide sweep and deployment 
of ordered space in confident dimension, 
testified to the calm labors of three legions; —

then a ruined half-well and shallow ditch 
showed where a desperate remnant had 
been driven to take cover;—

                                                        on the open ground between them

were whitening bones, free 
from putrefaction, —

                        scattered where men had been struck down 
fleeing, heaped up

where they stood their ground before slaughter.

Fragments of spears and horses’ limbs lay 
intertwined, while human

                                                        skulls were nailed

like insults to the tree-trunks.

Nearby groves held the altars
on which the savage Germans
sacrificed the tribunes and chief centurions.