The Battle of Pultowa

Robert Southey

ON Vorska’s glittering waves

    The morning sunbeams play;

    Pultowa’s walls are thronged

    With eager multitudes;

    Athwart the dusty vale

    They strain their aching eyes,

    Where to the fight moves on

The conqueror Charles, the iron-hearted Swede.


    Him famine hath not tamed,—

    The tamer of the brave.

    Him winter hath not quelled;

When man by man his veteran troops sunk down,

    Frozen to their endless sleep,

    He held undaunted on.

    Him pain hath not subdued;

    What though he mounts not now

    The fiery steed of war,

Borne on a litter to the field he goes.


    Go, iron-hearted king!

    Full of thy former fame;

    Think how the humbled Dane

    Crouched underneath thy sword;

    Think how the wretched Pole

    Resigned his conquered crown:

    Go, iron-hearted king!

Let Narva’s glory swell thy haughty breast;

The death-day of thy glory, Charles, hath dawned!

    Proud Swede! the sun hath risen

    That on thy shame shall set!


Now, Patkul, may thine injured spirit rest!

  For over that relentless Swede

Ruin hath raised his unrelenting arm;

    For ere the night descends,

    His veteran host destroyed,

His laurels blasted to revive no more,

  He flies before the Muscovite.


Impatiently that haughty heart must bear

    Long years of hope deceived;

    Long years of idleness

    That sleepless soul must brook.

Now, Patkul, may thy injured spirit rest!

To him who suffers in an honest cause

No death is ignominious; not to thee,

But upon Charles, the cruel, the unjust,—

    Not upon thee, on him

The ineffaceable reproach is fixed,

    The infamy abides.

Now, Patkul, may thine injured spirit rest!

This battle between the Swedish forces and the Russian army led by Peter the Great took place on June 27, 1709. It resulted in a decisive victory for the Russians.