August 13: 1704
Oft hast thou
acted thy part,
My country, worthily thee!
Lifted up often thy load
Atlantean, enormous, with glee:—
For on thee the burden is laid to uphold
World-justice; to keep the balance of states;
On thee the long cry of the tyrant-oppress’d,
The oppress’d in the name of liberty, waits:—
Ready, aye ready, the blade
In its day to draw forth, unafraid;
Thou dost not blench from thy fate!
By thy high heart, only, secure; by thy magnanimity, great.
it was on the morn
When France with Spain, in one realm
Welded, one thunderbolt, stood,
With one stroke the world to o’erwhelm.
—They have pass’d the great stream, they have stretch’d their white
Above the protecting morass and the dell,
Blenheim to Lutzingen, where the long wood
In summer-thick leafage rounds o’er the fell:
—England! in nine-fold advance
Cast thy red flood upon France;
Over marsh over beck ye must go,
Wholly together! or, Danube to Rhine, all slides to the foe!
As the lava thrusts
onward its wall,
One mass down the valley they tramp;
Fascine-fill the marsh and the stream;
Like hornets they swarm up the ramp,
Lancing a breach through the long palisade,
Where the rival swarms of the stubborn foe,
While the sun goes high and goes down o’er the fight,
Sting them back, blow answering blow:—
O life-blood lavish as rain
On war’s red Aceldama plain!
While the volleying death-rattle rings,
And the peasant pays for the pride and the fury-ambition of kings!
And as those of
Achaia and Troia
By the camp on the sand, so they
In the aether-amber of evening
Kept even score in the fray;
Rank against rank, man match’d with man,
In backward, forward, struggle enlaced,
Grappled and moor’d to the ground where they stood
As wrestlers wrestling, as lovers embraced:—
And the lightnings insatiable fly,
As the lull of the tempest is nigh,
And each host in its agony reels,
And the musket falls hot from the hand, enflamed by the death that it deals.
But, as when through
the vale the rain-clouds
Darker and heavier flow,
Above them the dominant summit
Stands clad in calmness and snow;
So thou, great Chief, awaiting the turn
Of the purple tide:—And the moment has come!
And the signal-word flies out with a smile,
And they charge the foe in his fastness, home:—
As one long wave when the wind
Urges an ocean behind,
One line, they sweep on the foe,
And France from our battle recoils, and Victory edges the blow.