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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: Busaco

Inscription for the Deserto de Busaco

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

READER! thou standest upon holy ground,

Which Penitence hath chosen for itself,

And war, disturbing the deep solitude,

Hath left it doubly sacred. On these heights

The host of Portugal and England stood,

Arrayed against Massena, when the chief,

Proud of Rodrigo and Almeida won,

Pressed forward, thinking the devoted realm

Full sure should fall a prey. He in his pride

Scorned the poor numbers of the English foe,

And thought the children of the land would fly

From his advance, like sheep before the wolf,

Scattering, and lost in terror. Ill he knew

The Lusitanian spirit! Ill he knew

The arm, the heart, of England! Ill he knew

Her Wellington! He learnt to know them here,

That spirit and that arm, that heart, that mind,

Here on Busaco gloriously displayed,

When, hence repulsed, the beaten boaster wound

Below his course circuitous, and left

His thousands for the beasts and ravenous fowl.

The Carmelite who in his cell recluse

Was wont to sit, and from a skull receive

Death’s silent lesson, wheresoe’er he walk,

Henceforth may find his teachers. He shall find

The Frenchmen’s bones in glen and grove, on rock

And height, where’er the wolves and carrion birds

Have strewn them, washed in torrents, bare and bleached

By sun and rain, and by the winds of heaven.