Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Spain: Barrosa

At Barrosa

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

THOUGH the four quarters of the world have seen

The British valor proved triumphantly

Upon the French, in many a field far-famed,

Yet may the noble Island in her rolls

Of glory write Barrosa’s name. For there,

Not by the issue of deliberate plans

Consulted well, was the fierce contest won,

Nor by the leader’s eye intuitive,

Nor force of either arm of war, nor art

Of skilled artillerist, nor the discipline

Of troops to absolute obedience trained;

But by the spring and impulse of the heart,

Brought fairly to the trial, when all else

Seemed, like a wrestler’s garment, thrown aside;

By individual courage and the sense

Of honor, their old country’s, and their own,

There to be forfeited, or there upheld;—

This warmed the soldier’s soul, and gave his hand

The strength that carries with it victory.

More to enhance their praise, the day was fought

Against all circumstance: a painful march,

Through twenty hours of night and day prolonged,

Forespent the British troops; and hope delayed

Had left their spirits palled. But when the word

Was given to turn, and charge, and win the heights,

The welcome order came to them like rain

Upon a traveller in the thirsty sands.

Rejoicing, up the ascent, and in the front

Of danger, they with steady step advanced,

And with the insupportable bayonet

Drove down the foe. The vanquished Victor saw,

And thought of Talavera, and deplored

His eagle lost. But England saw, well pleased,

Her old ascendency that day sustained;

And Scotland, shouting over all her hills,

Among her worthies ranked another Graham.