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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Africa: Vol. XXIV. 1876–79.

The Barbary States: Algiers

Ode on the Battle of Algiers

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

ONE day of dreadful occupation more,

Ere England’s gallant ships

Shall, of their beauty, pomp, and power disrobed,

Like sea-birds on the sunny main,

Rock idly in the port.

One day of dreadful occupation more!

A work of righteousness,

Yea, of sublimest mercy, must be done:

England will break the oppressor’s chain,

And set the captives free.

Red Cross of England, which all shores have seen

Triumphantly displayed,

Thou sacred banner of the glorious Isle,

Known wheresoever keel hath cut

The navigable deep,—

Ne’er didst thou float more proudly o’er the storm

Of havoc and of death,

Than when, resisting fiercely, but in vain,

Algiers her moony standard lowered,

And signed the conqueror’s law.

Oh, if the grave were sentient, as these Moors

In erring credence hold;

And if the victims of captivity

Could in the silent tomb have heard

The thunder of the fight,—

Sure their rejoicing dust upon that day

Had heaved the oppressive soil,

And earth been shaken like the mosques and towers,

When England on those guilty walls

Her fiery vengeance sent.

Seldom hath victory given a joy like this,—

When the delivered slave

Revisits once again his own dear home,

And tells of all his sufferings past,

And blesses Exmouth’s name.

Far, far and wide along the Italian shores,

That holy joy extends;

Sardinian mothers pay their vows fulfilled;

And hymns are heard beside thy banks,

O Fountain Arethuse!

Churches shall blaze with lights and ring with praise,

And deeper strains shall rise

From many an overflowing heart to Heaven;

Nor will they in their prayers forget

The hand that set them free.