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Poem by Francis Turner Palgrave
1810 As who, while erst the Achaians wall'd the shore, Stood Atlas-like before, A granite face against the Trojan sea Of foes who seethed and foam'd, From that stern rock refused incessantly; So He, in his colossal lines, astride From sea to river-side, Alhandra past Aruda to the Towers, Our one true man of men Frown'd back bold France and all the Imperial powers. For when that Eagle, towering in his might Beyond the bounds of Right, O'ercanopied Europe with his rushing wings, And all the world was prone Before him as a God, a King of Kings; When Freedom to one isle, her ancient shrine, O'er the free favouring brine Fled, as a girl by lustful war and shame Discloister'd from her home, Barefoot, with glowing eyes, and cheeks on flame, And call'd aloud, and bade the realm awake To arms for Freedom's sake: --Yet,--for the land had rusted long in rest, The nerves of war unstrung, Faint thoughts or rash alternate in her breast, While purblind party-strife with venomous spite Made plausible wrong seem right,-- O then for that unselfish hero-chief Tender and true, and lost At Trafalgar,--or him, whose patriot grief Died with the prayer for England, as he died, In vain we might have cried! But this one pillar rose, and bore the war Upon himself alone; Supreme o'er Fortune and her idle star. For not by might but mind, by skill, not chance, He headed stubborn France From Tagus back by Douro to Garonne; And on the last, worst, field, The crown of all his hundred victories won, World-calming Waterloo!--Then, laying by War's fearful enginery, In each state-tempest mann'd the wearying helm; E'en through life's winter-years Serving with all his strength the ungrateful realm. O firm and foursquare mind! O solid will Fix'd, inexpugnable By crowns or censures! only bent to do The day's work in the day;-- Fame with her idiot yelp might come, or go! O breast that dared with Nature's patience wait Till the slow wheels of Fate Struck the consummate hour; in leash the while Reining his eager bands, The prey in view,--with that foreseeing smile! And when for blood on Salamanca ridge Morn broke, or Orthez' bridge, He read the ground, and his stern squadrons moved And placed with artist-skill, Red counters in the perilous game they loved, Impassive, iron, he and they!--and then With eagle-keener ken Glanced through the field, the crisis-instant knew, And through the gap of war His thundering legions on their victory threw. Not iron, he, but adamant! Diamond-strong, And diamond-clear of wrong: For truth he struck right out, whate'er befall! Above the fear of fear: Duty for duty's sake his all-in-all.
Francis Turner Palgrave
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