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

Spain: Albuera


By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

STEEP is the soldier’s path; nor are the heights

Of glory to be won without long toil

And arduous efforts of enduring hope,

Save when Death takes the aspirant by the hand,

And, cutting short the work of years, at once

Lifts him to that conspicuous eminence.

Such fate was mine. The standard of the Buffs

I bore at Albuera, on that day

When, covered by a shower, and fatally

For friends misdeemed, the Polish lancers fell

Upon our rear. Surrounding me, they claimed

My precious charge. “Not but with life!” I cried,

And life was given for immortality.

The flag which to my heart I held, when wet

With that heart’s blood, was soon victoriously

Regained on that great day. In former times

Marlborough beheld it borne at Ramilies;

For Brunswick and for liberty it waved

Triumphant at Culloden; and hath seen

The lilies on the Caribbean shores

Abashed before it. Then, too, in the front

Of battle did it flap exultingly,

When Douro, with its wide stream interposed,

Saved not the French invaders from attack,

Discomfiture, and ignominious rout.

My name is Thomas: undisgraced have I

Transmitted it. He who in days to come

May bear the honored banner to the field,

Will think of Albuera, and of me.