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Oh, Albuera! glorious field of grief!
As o'er thy plain the Pilgrim pricked his steed,
A scene where mingling foes should boast and bleed!
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
Or in a narrower sphere wild Rapine's path pursued.
Full swiftly Harold wends his lonely way
Where Desolation plants her famished brood
But all unconscious of the coming doom
The feast, the song, the revel here abounds;
1 Albuera.] May 15, 1811. The British and Portuguese under Beresford, the French commanded by Soult. Sir William Napier says, that in this terrible struggle was seen with what a strength and majesty the British soldier fights.' Albuera is south of Badajoz.
2 Sevilla.] The French entered Seville in 1810, and retired from it in 1812. Under the name Hispalis, she was one of the most important towns in ancient Spain. It stands on the Guadalquivir. 3 Ilion.] Troy, NW. of Asia Minor.
Strange modes of merriment the hours consume,
And young-eyed 2 Lewdness walks her midnight rounds ;
Still to the last kind Vice clings to the tottering 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?
As whilome he was wont the leagues to cheer,
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.
1 Rebeck.] L'Allegro, And the jocund rebecks sound.' A stringed instrument.
2 Young-eyed.] Conf. pale-eyed priest' (Milton in the ‘Ode ou the Nativity), and green-eyed jealousy' in Shakspeare.
3 Fandango.] A Spanish dance, supposed to be of Moorish origin.
Monarchs.] See Cowper
'What are ye monarchs, laureled heroes, say,
5 Godoy.] Don Manuel Godoy, the Duke of Alcudia, a creature of Maria Louisa of Parma, the wife of Charles IV. of Spain, alluded to in the next line as the royal wittol,' signifying that he knew his wife's infamy. Godoy was entitled by Charles IV. Prince of Peace' (El Principe de la Paz '), because he concluded in 1795 the Treaty of Basle, which rendered his country subservient to France. 6 Wittol.] See Glossary.
On yon long, level plain, at distance crowned
Here was the camp, the watch-flame, and the host,
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,1
If subtle poniards, wrapt beneath the cloke,
Could blunt the sabre's edge, or clear the cannon's smoke.
At every turn Morena's 2 dusky height
The holstered steed beneath the shed of thatch,
Portend the deeds to come :-but he whose nod
1 The badge of crimson hue.] The red cockade of Ferdinand VII., in whose favour Charles IV. had abdicated, though he subsequently withdrew his abdication. Both father and son were puppets in the hands of Napoleon.
2 Morena.] The Sierra Morena, a mountain chain separating the valleys of the Tagus and Guadalquivir.
Howitzer.] See Glossary.
A moment pauseth ere he lifts the rod ;
Soon will his legions sweep through these their way ;
And must they fall? the young, the proud, the brave,
The Veteran's skill, Youth's fire, and Manhood's heart of steel?
Is it for this the Spanish maid,a aroused, Hangs on the willow 5 her unstrung guitar, And, all unsexed, the anlace hath espoused, Sung the loud song, and dared the deed of war? And she, whom once the semblance of a scar Appalled, an owlet's larum chilled with dread, Now views the column-scattering bayonet jar, The falchion flash, and o'er the yet warm dead Stalks with Minerva's step where Mars might quake to tread.
1 The Scourger of the World.] Implies a comparison between Napoleon and Attila, king of the Huns, called The Scourge of God.'
2 To Hades.] 'Atdei mрolayev in Homer's
Iliad,' bk. i. 3. And Counsel sage.] An exaggerated praise for the ever divided counsels of the Provincial Juntas.
The Spanish maid.] Augustina, the Maid of Saragoza. The siege of Saragoza was commenced June 15, and raised August 4, 1808. The exploits of the Maid of Saragoza inspired as much courage into the besieged as Joan of Arc had inspired at the siege of Orleans. 5 Willow. Abandoned love. Dido with the Willow.' Willow is ever associated with unhappy love. Instead of poppies, willows,' Don Juan.'
Anlace.] See Glossary.
Ye who shall marvel when you hear her tale, Oh! had you known her in her softer hour, Marked 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,1 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 flushed hope is lost?
Yet are Spain's maids no race of Amazons,
Remoter females, famed for sickening prate;
The seal Love's dimpling finger hath impressed
1 Gorgon face.] On the shield or ægis of Pallas Athene, which petrified every beholder-see Canto ii. 14,