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.
 
Portugal: Busaco
Inscription for the Deserto de Busaco
Robert Southey (1774–1843)
 
READER! thou standest upon holy ground,
Which Penitence hath chosen for itself,
And war, disturbing the deep solitude,
Hath left it doubly sacred. On these heights
The host of Portugal and England stood,        5
Arrayed against Massena, when the chief,
Proud of Rodrigo and Almeida won,
Pressed forward, thinking the devoted realm
Full sure should fall a prey. He in his pride
Scorned the poor numbers of the English foe,        10
And thought the children of the land would fly
From his advance, like sheep before the wolf,
Scattering, and lost in terror. Ill he knew
The Lusitanian spirit! Ill he knew
The arm, the heart, of England! Ill he knew        15
Her Wellington! He learnt to know them here,
That spirit and that arm, that heart, that mind,
Here on Busaco gloriously displayed,
When, hence repulsed, the beaten boaster wound
Below his course circuitous, and left        20
His thousands for the beasts and ravenous fowl.
The Carmelite who in his cell recluse
Was wont to sit, and from a skull receive
Death’s silent lesson, wheresoe’er he walk,
Henceforth may find his teachers. He shall find        25
The Frenchmen’s bones in glen and grove, on rock
And height, where’er the wolves and carrion birds
Have strewn them, washed in torrents, bare and bleached
By sun and rain, and by the winds of heaven.
 
 
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