Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Lines Written on the Field of Quatre Bras, 1821

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

Belgium: Quatre Bras

Lines Written on the Field of Quatre Bras, 1821

By Anonymous

SO bright the sun puts forth his glorious beams,

So fair the field beneath his lustre gleams,

So soft the south-wind wanders o’er the corn,

While on its wing a thousand scents are borne,

So bright and fair, so peaceful and serene,

So soft and calm and undisturbed the scene,

It seems as if no storm had ever rose,

Or e’er could rise, to break its sweet repose.

But on this lovely spot when last I stood,

What was that field?—a theatre of blood!

The war-fiend here unfurled his baleful wing,

Here mocked at pain, and smiled at suffering:

Yelling with joy as each new victim bled,

Gloated his eye on hecatombs of dead;

Steeped his foul pinions in a sea of gore,

And, drenched with slaughter, still demanded more.

Yes, for the blue of yonder cloudless sky,

Above us hung a sulphurous canopy;

For murmuring rill, and carol of the bird,

Were whizzing shot and roaring cannon heard;

Bristled the bayonet, gleamed the deadly glaive,

Where thickest now the golden harvests wave;

Where tender harebells wave in azure bloom,

Floated the pennon with the warrior’s plume;

For rural echoes, or the wild bees’ hum,

Brayed the hoarse trumpet, rolled the hollow drum;

And where yon meadow’s turf most verdant is,

There fell the fiercest of our enemies.

They fell indeed!—but with them what a host

Of conquerors, comrades, brothers, friends, was lost!

What tears bedewed the bodies of the brave,

As sanguine hands consigned them to the grave;

What sobs burst forth as voices joined in prayer,

Which but an hour before had joined the battle there;

What manly bosoms heaved with sorrow’s sigh,

Which but an hour before throbbed high in victory!

Alas! among the most deplored of those

Who, wrapped in shrouds of glory, here repose,

Here, on this field, their valor nobly won,

Lies low in earth the gallant Barrington!

O that my feeble hand could justly trace

His manly virtues and his youthful grace;—

O that my feeble pen could trace his eye,

Where sat enshrined the soul of bravery;

Or shew his sword uplifted in the fight,

Dashing through foremost ranks with meteor light.—

Enough,—surrounded by a heap of slain,

He sunk triumphant on the gory plain;

Sudden the silver cord of life was riven,

And the freed spirit sprang at once to Heaven!