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

Spain: Talavera


By Lord Byron (1788–1824)

(From Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage)

AWAKE, ye sons of Spain! awake! advance!

Lo! Chivalry, your ancient goddess, cries;

But wields not, as of old, her thirsty lance,

Nor shakes her crimson plumage in the skies:

Now on the smoke of blazing bolts she flies,

And speaks in thunder through yon engine’s roar!

In every peal she calls, “Awake! arise!”

Say, is her voice more feeble than of yore,

When her war-song was heard on Andalusia’s shore?

Hark! heard you not those hoofs of dreadful note?

Sounds not the clang of conflict on the heath?

Saw ye not whom the reeking sabre smote;

Nor saved your brethren ere they sank beneath

Tyrants and tyrants’ slaves?—the fires of death,

The bale-fires flash on high: from rock to rock

Each volley tells that thousands cease to breathe;

Death rides upon the sulphury Siroc,

Red Battle stamps his foot, and nations feel the shock.

Lo! where the Giant on the mountain stands,

His blood-red tresses deepening in the sun,

With death-shot glowing in his fiery hands,

And eye that scorcheth all it glares upon!

Restless it rolls, now fixed, and now anon

Flashing afar,—and at his iron feet

Destruction cowers, to mark what deeds are done;

For on this morn three potent nations meet,

To shed before his shrine the blood he deems most sweet.

By Heaven! it is a splendid sight to see

(For one who hath no friend, no brother there)

Their rival scarfs of mixed embroidery,

Their various arms that glitter in the air!

What gallant war-hounds rouse them from their lair,

And gnash their fangs, loud yelling for the prey!

All join the chase, but few the triumph share:

The Grave shall bear the chiefest prize away,

And Havoc scarce for joy can number their array.

Three hosts combine to offer sacrifice;

Three tongues prefer strange orisons on high;

Three gaudy standards flout the pale blue skies:

The shouts are France, Spain, Albion, Victory!

The foe, the victim, and the fond ally

That fights for all, but ever fights in vain,

Are met—as if at home they could not die—

To feed the crow on Talavera’s plain,

And fertilize the field that each pretends to gain.

There shall they rot,—Ambition’s honored fools!

Yes, honor decks the turf that wraps their clay!

Vain Sophistry! in these behold the tools,

The broken tools, that tyrants cast away

By myriads, when they dare to pave their way

With human hearts—to what?—a dream alone.

Can despots compass aught that hails their sway?

Or call with truth one span of earth their own,

Save that wherein at last they crumble bone by bone?