Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Spain, &c.
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV.  1876–79.
 
Spain: Talavera
Talavera
Robert Southey (1774–1843)
 
For the Field of Battle

YON wide-extended town, whose roofs and towers
And poplar avenues are seen far off,
In goodly prospect over scattered woods
Of dusky ilex, boasts among its sons
Of Mariana’s name,—he who hath made        5
The splendid story of his country’s wars
Through all the European kingdoms known.
Yet in his ample annals thou canst find
No braver battle chronicled than here
Was waged, when Joseph, of the stolen crown,        10
Against the hosts of England and of Spain
His veteran armies brought. By veteran chiefs
Captained, a formidable force they came,
Full fifty thousand. Victor led them on,
A man grown gray in arms, nor e’er in aught        15
Dishonored, till by this opprobrious cause.
He, over rude Alverche’s summer stream
Winning his way, made first upon the right
His hot attack, where Spain’s raw levies, ranged
In double line, had taken their strong stand        20
In yonder broken ground, by olive-groves
Covered, and flanked by Tagus. Soon from thence,
As one whose practised eye could apprehend
All vantages in war, his troops he drew;
And on this hill, the battle’s vital point,        25
Bore with collected power, outnumbering
The British ranks twice told. Such fearful odds
Were balanced by Sir Arthur’s master mind
And by the British heart. Twice during night
The fatal spot they stormed, and twice fell back,        30
Before the bayonet driven. Again at morn
They made their fiery onset, and, again
Repelled, again at noon renewed the strife.
Yet was their desperate perseverance vain,
Where skill by equal skill was countervailed,        35
And numbers by superior courage foiled;
And, when the second night drew over them
Its sheltering cope, in darkness they retired,
At all points beaten. Long in the red page
Of war shall Talavera’s famous name        40
Stand forth conspicuous. While that name endures,
Bear in thy soul, O Spain! the memory
Of all thou sufferedst from perfidious France,
Of all that England in thy cause achieved.
 
 
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