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Oh, Albuera! glorious field of grief!
As o'er thy plain the pilgrim prick'd his steed,
A scene where mingling foes should boast and bleed!
Thy name shall circle round the gaping throng,
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
But all unconscious of the coming doom,
The feast, the song, the revel here abounds;
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
Ah, monarchs! could ye taste the mirth ye mar,
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,
No! as he speeds, he chaunts :-"Viva el Rey !"8
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
Here was the camp, the watch-flame, and the host,
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.
At every turn Morena's dusky height
The holster'd steed beneath the shed of thatch,
Portend the deeds to come :-but he whose nod
Soon will his legions sweep through these their way;
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
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,
And, all unsex'd, the anlace hath espoused,
Sung the loud song, and dared the deed of war?
Appall'd, an owlet's larum chill'd with dread,
Ye who shall marvel when you hear her tale,
Thin the closed ranks, and lead in glory's fearful chase.
Her lover sinks-she sheds no ill-timed tear;
What maid retrieve when man's flush'd hope is lost?
Foil'd by a woman's hand, before a batter'd wall? "
Yet are Spain's maids no race of Amazons,
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:"2
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 Phoebus 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 those houries, whom ye scarce allow
Oh, thou Parnassus ! 13 whom I now survey,
But soaring snow-clad through thy native sky,
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
Happier in this than mightiest bards have been,
Sighs in the gale, keeps silence in the cave,
And glides with glassy foot o'er yon melodious wave.