Landon in The Literary Gazette 1826/Io Triumphe

Literary Gazette, 21st January, 1826, Page 43


Heavy had been the march that day,
For long and sultry was the way;
More weary far than if it lay
    To be cut through armed foes:
The pennon drooped upon the air,
As if it had no business there,
With nothing rival near to dare,
    And nothing to oppose.

'Twas pleasant when the darkening west
Called the worn soldier to his rest,
Upon the green earth's mother breast,
    To dream of hearth and home:
On many a rough cheek the soft smile,
With an unconscious tear the while,
Told how the visions could beguile
    That on such slumbers come.

But morning came—and with it came
Tidings that lit the brow to flame;
Forgot the night-dream's gentler claim—
    The weary march forgot:
Hark to the clarion ringing clear!
Hark to the trumpet's voice of cheer!
And, like an omen on the ear,
    The distant cannon-shot!

There rode the eagles on the wind,—
The hills are with the white ranks lined,
And thousands gather dark behind,
    Like a storm on the sea:
And face them—England's gallant bands,
Their fearful welcome in their hands,
In whizzing balls and flashing brands—
    Death, is this all for thee?

One moment, 'tis a gallant sight—
Float the rich banners from the height,
And helm and cuirass blaze in light
    From the young day-break's beam:
Beneath the curb proud coursers prance,
Like summer clouds the white plumes dance,
And the red flags from the bright lance
    Like sudden meteors gleam.

One moment—and all sight is vain,—
Reddens the sky with fiery rain,—
Closes the smoke-cloud round the plain—
    Fit cloak for Death to throw:
As mid the Alpines thunders sweep,
Waking the mountains from their sleep—
So comes the tumult, stern and deep,
    From the dread strife below.

—'Tis moonlight on the quiet field
Where sabre flashed and musket pealed;
Where was the fate of thousands sealed,
    'Tis calm as a child's rest:
But ill suits earth with such a sky—
One with its soft, sweet stars on high,
While dead and dying thousands lie
    Upon the other's breast.

And there they lie—the true, the brave,
The morning's pride, like a spent wave;
And has not Glory even a grave,
    For those who for her died?
No; there they lie—the young, the old,
The steel cap by the helm of gold,
The steed upon its rider rolled,
    Friend and foe, side by side.

Enough of this—across the sea,
To know what triumph there may be
Where Glory joins Festivity,
    Rejoicing in its fame:
There's feasting spread in gorgeous halls,
The lamps flash round the city walls,
And many a flood of lustre falls
    O'er many an honoured name.

Turn thou from this, and enter where
Some mother weeps o'er her despair,
Some desolate bride rends her rich hair,
    Some orphan joins the cry!
Then back again to the death plain,
Where lie those whom they weep in vain,
And ask, in gazing on the slain,
    What art thou, Victory?