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Oh, Albuera! glorious field of grief!
As o'er thy plain the pilgrim prick'd his steed,
Who could foresee thee, in a space so brief,
A scene where mingling foes should boast an bleed!
Peace to the perish'd! may the warrior's meed
And tears of triumph their reward prolong!
Till others fall where other chieftains lead,
Thy name shall circle round the gaping throng,
And shine in worthless lays, the theme of transient song !
Enough of battle's minions ! let them play
Their game of lives, and barter breath for fame :
Fame that will scarce reanimate their clay,
Though thousands fall to deck some single name.
In sooth 't were sad to thwart their noble aim
Who strike, blest hirelings ! for their country's good,
And die, that living might have proved her shame;
Perish’d, perchance, in some domestic feud,
Or in a narrower sphere wild rapine's path pursued.
Full swiftly Harold wends his lonely way
Where proud Sevilla triumphs unsubdued :
Yet is she free—the spoiler's wished-for prey!
Soon, soon shall conquest's fiery foot intrude,
Blackening her lovely domes with traces rude,
Inevitable hour! 'gainst fate to strive,
Where desolation plants her famished brood,
Is vain, or Ilion, Tyre might yet survive,
And virtue vanquish all, and murder cease to thrive,
But all unconscious of the coming doom,
The feast, the song, the revel here abounds;
Strange modes of merriment the hours consume,
Nor bleed these patriots with their country's wounds :
Not here war's clarion, but love's rebeck sounds;
Here folly still his votaries enthralls ;
And young-eyed lewdness walks her midnight rounds:
Girt with the silent crimes of capitals,
Still to the last kind vice clings to the tott'ring walls.
Not so the rustic—with his trembling mate
He lurks, nor casts his heavy eye afar,
Lest he should view his vineyard desolate,
Blasted below the dun hot breath of war.
No more beneath soft eve's consenting star
Fandango twirls his jocund castanet :
Ah, monarchs ! could ye taste the mirth ye mar,
Not in the toils of glory would ye
The hoarse dull drum would sleep, and man be happy yet.
How carols now the lusty muleteer?
Of love, romance, devotion, in his lay,
As whilome he was wont the leagues to cheer,
His quick bells wildly jingling on the way?
No! as he speeds, he chaunts :—Viva el Rey !"8
And checks his song to execrate Godoy,
The royal wittol Charles, and curse the day
When first Spain's queen beheld the black-eyed boy,
And gore-faced treason sprung from her adulterate joy.
On yon long, level plain, at distance crown'd
With crags, whereon those Moorish turrets rest,
Wide-scatter'd hoof-marks dint the wounded ground ;
And, scathed by fire, the green sward's darken’d vest
Tells that the foe was Andalusia's guest :
Here was the camp, the watch-flame, and the host,
Here the bold peasant storm'd the dragon's nest ;
Still does he mark it with triumphant boast,
And points to yonder cliffs, which oft were won and lost.
And whomsoe'er along the path you meet
Bears in his cap the badge of crimson hue,
Which tells you whom to shun and whom to greet : 9
Woe to the man that walks in public view
Without of loyalty this token true :
Sharp is the knife, and sudden is the stroke ;
And sorely would the Gallic foeman rue,
If subtle poniards, wrapt beneath the cloak,
Could blunt the sabre's edge, or clear the cannon's smoke.
turn Morena's dusky height
Sustains aloft the battery’s iron load ;
And, far as mortal eye can compass sight,
The mountain-howitzer, the broken road,
The bristling palisade, the fosse o'erflow'd,
The station'd bands, the never-vacant watch,
The magazine in rocky durance stow'd,
The holster'd steed beneath the shed of thatch,
The ball-piled pyramid, the ever-blazing match,
Portend the deeds to come :--but he whose nod
Has tumbled feebler despots from their sway,
A moment pauseth ere he lifts the rod;
A little moment deigneth to delay:
Soon will his legions sweep through these their way;
The West must own the scourger of the world.
Ah, Spain! how sad will be thy reckoning-day,
When soars Gaul's vulture, with his wings unfurl'd,
And thou shalt view thy sons in crowds to Hades hurl'd!
And must they fall ? the young, the proud, the brave,
To swell one bloated chief's unwholesome reign?
No step between submission and a grave ?
The rise of rapine and the fall of Spain?
And doth the power that man adores ordain
Their doom, nor heed the suppliant's appeal ?
Is all that desperate valour acts in vain ?
And counsel sage, and patriotic zeal,
The veteran's skill, youth's fire, and manhood's heart of steel?
Is it for this the Spanish maid, aroused,
Hangs on the willow her unstrung guitar,
And, all unsex’d, the anlace hath espoused,
Sung the loud song, and dared the deed of war?
And she, whom once the semblance of a scar
Appallid, an owlet's larum chill'd with dread,
Now views the column-scattering bay’net jar,
The falchion flash, and o'er the yet warm dead
Stalks with Minerva's step where Mars might quake to tread.
Ye who shall marvel when you hear her tale,
Oh! had you known her in her softer hour,
Mark'd her black eye that mocks her coal-black veil,
Heard her light, lively tones in lady's bower,
Seen her long locks that foil the painter's power,
Her fairy form, with more than female grace,
Scarce would you deem that Saragoza's tower
Beheld her smile in danger's Gorgon face,
Thin the closed ranks, and lead in glory's fearful chase.
Her lover sinks—she sheds no ill-timed tear ;
Her chief is slain—she fills his fatal post;
Her fellows flee-she checks their base career ;
The foe retires—she heads the sallying host :
Who can appease like her a lover's ghost ?
Who.can avenge so well a leader's fall?
What maid retrieve when man's flush'd hope is lost?
Who hang so fiercely on the flying Gaul,
Foild by a woman's hand, before a batter'd wall?"
Yet are Spain's maids no race of Amazons,
But form’d for all the witching arts of love ;
Though thus in arms they emulate her sons,
And in the horrid phalanx dare to move,
'Tis but the tender fierceness of the dove,
Pecking the hand that hovers o'er her mate:
In softness as in firmness far above
Remoter females, famed for sickening prate ;
Her mind is nobler sure, her charms perchance as great.
The seal love's dimpling finger hath impress'd
Denotes how soft that chin which bears his touch :19
Her lips, whose kisses pout to leave their nest,
Bid man be valiant ere he merit such:
Her glance how wildly beautiful! how much
Hath Phæbus woo'd in vain to spoil her cheek,
Which glows yet smoother from his amorous clutch!
Who round the north for paler dames would seek?
How poor their forms appear ! how languid, wan, and weak !
Match me, ye climes! which poets love to laud;
Match me, ye harems of the land! where now
I strike my strain, far distant, to applaud
Beauties that ev'n a cynic must ayow;
Match me those houries, whom
ye scarce allow
To taste the gale lest love should ride the wind,
With Spain's dark-glancing daughters-deign to know
There your wise prophet's paradise we find,
His black-eyed maids of heaven, angelically kind.
Oh, thou Parnassus ! 15 whom I now survey,
Not in the phrenzy of a dreamer's eye,
Not in the fabled landscape of a lay,
But soaring snow-clad through thy native sky,
In the wild pomp of mountain majesty!
What marvel if I thus essay to sing ?
The humblest of thy pilgrims passing by
Would gladly woo thine echoes with his string,
Though from thy heights no more one muse will wave her wing.
Oft have I dream'd of thee! whose glorious name
Who knows not, knows not man's divinest lore:
And now I view thee, 't is, alas ! with shame
That I in feeblest accents must adore.
When I recount thy worshippers of yore
I tremble, and can only bend the knee ;
Nor raise my voice, nor vainly dare to soar,
But gaze beneath thy cloudy canopy
In silent joy to think at last I look on thee !
Happier in this than mightiest bards have been,
Whose fate to distant.homes confined their lot,
Shall I unmoved behold the hallow'd scene,
Which others rave of, though they know it not?
Though here no more Apollo haunts his grot,
And thou, the Muses' seat, art now their grave,
Some gentle spirit still pervades the spot,
Sighs in the gale, keeps silence in the cave,
And glides with glassy foot o'er yon