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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.

Spain: Arroyo Molinos

For the Affair at Arroyo Molinos

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

HE who may chronicle Spain’s arduous strife

Against the Intruder, hath to speak of fields

Profuselier fed with blood, and victories

Borne wider on the wings of glad report;

Yet shall this town, which from the mill-stream takes

Its humble name, be storied as the spot

Where the vain Frenchman, insolent too long

Of power and of success, first saw the strength

Of England in prompt enterprise essayed,

And felt his fortunes ebb, from that day forth

Swept back upon the refluent tide of war.

Girard lay here, who late from Caceres,

Far as his active cavalry could scour,

Had pillaged and oppressed the country round:

The Spaniard and the Portuguese he scorned,

And deemed the British soldiers all too slow

To seize occasion, unalert in war,

And therefore brave in vain. In such belief,

Secure at night he laid him down to sleep,

Nor dreamt that these disparaged enemies

With drum and trumpet should in martial charge

Sound his reveille. All day their march severe

They held through wind and drenching rain; all night

The autumnal tempest unabating raged,

While in their comfortless and open camp

They cheered themselves with patient hope: the storm

Was their ally; and moving in the mist,

When morning opened, on the astonished foe

They burst. Soon routed horse and foot, the French,

On all sides scattering, fled, on every side

Beset, and every where pursued, with loss

Of half their numbers captured, their whole stores,

And all their gathered plunder. ’T was a day

Of surest omen, such as filled with joy

True English hearts. No happier peals have e’er

Been rolled abroad from town and village tower

Than gladdened then with their exultant sound

Salopian vales; and flowing cups were brimmed

All round the Wrekin to Sir Rowland’s name.