At Barrosa

Robert Southey

Through the four quarters of the world have seen
The British valor proved triumphantly
Upon the French, in many a field far-famed,
Yet may the noble Island in her rolls
Of glory write Barrosa's name. For there,
Not by the issue of deliberate plans
Consulted well, was the fierce contest won,
Nor by the leader's eye intuitive,
Nor force of either arm of war, nor art
Of skilled artillerist, nor the discipline
Of troops to absolute obedience trained;
But by the spring and impulse of the heart,
Brought fairly to the trial, when all else
Seemed, like a wrestler's garment, thrown aside;
By individual courage and the sense
Of honor, their old country's, and their own,
There to be forfeited, or there upheld;—
This warmed the soldier's soul, and gave his hand
The strength that carries with it victory.
More to enhance their praise, the day was fought
Against all circumstance: a painful march,
Through twenty hours of night and day prolonged,
Forespent the British troops; and hope delayed
Had left their spirits palled. But when the word
Was given to turn, and charge, and win the heights,
The welcome order came to them like rain
Upon a traveller in the thirsty sands.
Rejoicing, up the ascent, and in the front
Of danger, they with steady step advanced,
And with the insupportable bayonet
Drove down the foe. The vanquished Victor saw,
And thought of Talavcra, and deplored
His eagle lost. But England saw, well pleased,
Her old ascendency that day sustained;
And Scotland, shouting over all her hills,
Among her worthies ranked another Graham.