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: Torres Vedras
Inscription for the Lines of Torres Vedras
Robert Southey (1774–1843)
 
THROUGH all Iberia, from the Atlantic shores
To far Pyrene, Wellington hath left
His trophies; but no monument records
To after-time a more enduring praise
Than this which marks his triumph here attained        5
By intellect, and patience to the end
Holding through good and ill its course assigned,
The stamp and seal of greatness. Here the chief
Perceived in foresight Lisbon’s sure defence,
A vantage-ground for all reverse prepared,        10
Where Portugal and England might defy
All strength of hostile numbers. Not for this
Of hostile enterprise did he abate,
Or gallant purpose: witness the proud day
Which saw Soult’s murderous host from Porto driven;        15
Bear witness, Talavera, made by him
Famous forever; and that later fight
When from Busaco’s solitude the birds,
Then first affrighted in their sanctuary,
Fled from the thunders and the fires of war.        20
But when Spain’s feeble counsels, in delay
As erring as in action premature,
Had left him in the field without support,
And Bonaparté, having trampled down
The strength and pride of Austria, this way turned        25
His single thought and undivided power,
Retreating hither the great general came;
And proud Massena, when the boastful chief
Of plundered Lisbon dreamt, here found himself
Stopped suddenly in his presumptuous course.        30
From Ericeyra on the western sea,
By Mafra’s princely convent, and the heights
Of Montichique, and Bucellas famed
For generous vines, the formidable works
Extending, rested on the guarded shores        35
Of Tagus, that rich river who received
Into his ample and rejoicing port
The harvests and the wealth of distant lands,
Secure, insulting with the glad display
The robber’s greedy sight. Five months the foe        40
Beheld these lines, made inexpugnable
By perfect skill, and patriot feelings here
With discipline conjoined, courageous hands,
True spirits, and one comprehensive mind
All overseeing and pervading all.        45
Five months, tormenting still his heart with hope,
He saw his projects frustrated; the power
Of the blaspheming tyrant whom he served
Fail in the proof; his thousands disappear,
In silent and inglorious war consumed;        50
Till hence retreating, maddened with despite,
Here did the self-styled Son of Victory leave,
Never to be redeemed, that vaunted name.
 
 
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