Poets of John Company/The Battle of Assaye

The Battle of Assaye.

Written in 1803.

Shout, Britons, for the battle of Assaye!
For that was a day
When we stood in our array.
Like the lion's might at bay.
And our battle-word was "Conquer or die."

Rouse! rouse the cruel leopard from his lair.
With his yell the mountain rings,
And his red eye round he flings,
As arrow-like he springs,
And spreads his clutching paw to rend and tear.

Then first array'd in battle-front we saw,
Far as the eye could glance.
The Mahratta banners dance
O'er the desolate expanse;
And their standard was the leopard of Malwa.

But, when we first encounter'd man to man,
Such odds came never on.
Against Greece or Macedon,
When they shook the Persian throne
Mid the old barbaric pomp of Ispahan.

No number'd might of living men could tame
Our gallant band, that broke
Through the bursting clouds of smoke,
When the vollied thunder spoke
From a thousand smouldering mouths of lurid flame.

Hail Wellesley! who led'st the martial fray!
Amid the locust swarm,
Dark fate was in thine arm;
And his shadow shall alarm
The Mahratta when he hears thy name for aye.

Ah! mark these British corses on the plain!
Each vanish'd like a star
Mid the dreadful ranks of war.
While their foemen stood afar.
And gaz'd with silent terror at the slain.

Shout Britons, for the battle of Assaye!
Ye who perish'd in your prime,
Your hallow'd names sublime
Shall live to endless time.
For heroic worth and fame shall never die.