Robert Southey

Steep is the soldier's path; nor are the heights
Of glory to be won without long toil
And arduous efforts of enduring hope,
Save when Death takes the aspirant by the hand,
And, cutting short the work of years, at once
Lifts him to that conspicuous eminence.
Such fate was mine. The standard of the Buffs
I bore at Alhuem, on that day
When, covered by a shower, and fatally
For friends misdeemed, the Polish lancers fell
Upon our rear. Surrounding' me, they claimed
My precious charge. "Not but with life!" I cried,
And life was given for immortality.
The flag which to my heart I held, when wet
With that heart's "blood, was soon victoriously
Regained on that great day. In former times
Marlborough beheld it borne at Ramilies;
For Brunswick and for liberty it waved
Triumpliant at Culloden; and hath seen
The lilies on the Caribbean shores
Abashed before it. Then, too, in the front
Of battle did it flap exultingly,
When Douro, with its wide stream interposed.
Saved not the French invaders from attack,
Discomfiture, and ignominious rout.
My name is Thomas: undisgraced have I
Transmitted it. He who in days to come
May bear the honored banner to the field,
Will think of Albuera, and of me.