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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.

Portugal: Douro, the River

Inscription for the Banks of the Douro

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

CROSSING, in unexampled enterprise,

This great and perilous stream, the English host

Effected here their landing, on the day

When Soult from Porto with his troops was driven.

No sight so joyful ever had been seen

From Douro’s banks,—not when the mountains sent

Their generous produce down, or homeward fleets

Entered from distant seas their port desired;

Nor e’er were shouts of such glad mariners

So gladly heard, as then the cannon’s peal,

And short, sharp strokes of frequent musketry,

By the delivered habitants that hour.

For they who, beaten then and routed, fled

Before victorious England, in their day

Of triumph, had, like fiends let loose from hell,

Filled yon devoted city with all forms

Of horror, all unutterable crimes;

And vengeance now had reached the inhuman race

Accurst. O, what a scene did night behold

Within those rescued walls, when festal fires

And torches, blazing through the bloody streets,

Streamed their broad light where horse and man in death

Unheeded lay outstretched! Eyes, which had wept

In bitterness so long, shed tears of joy,

And from the broken heart thanksgiving mixed

With anguish rose to Heaven. Sir Arthur then

Might feel how precious in a righteous cause

Is victory, how divine the soldier’s meed

When grateful nations bless the avenging sword!