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

Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia: Alexandria

The Battle of Alexandria

By James Montgomery (1771–1854)

HARP of Memnon! sweetly strung

To the music of the spheres;

While the hero’s dirge is sung,

Breathe enchantment to our ears.

As the sun’s descending beams,

Glancing o’er thy feeling wire,

Kindle every chord that gleams,

Like a ray of heavenly fire:

Let thy numbers, soft and slow,

O’er the plain with carnage spread,

Soothe the dying while they flow

To the memory of the dead.

Bright as Beauty, newly born,

Blushing at her maiden charms;

Fresh from Ocean rose the Morn,

When the trumpet blew to arms.

Terrible soon grew the light

On the Egyptian battle-plain,

As the darkness of that night

When the eldest born was slain.

Lashed to madness by the wind,

As the Red Sea surges roar,

Leave a gloomy gulf behind,

And devour the shrinking shore;

Thus, with overwhelming pride,

Gallia’s brightest, boldest boast,

In a deep and dreadful tide,

Rolled upon the British host.

Dauntless these their station held,

Though with unextinguished ire

Gallia’s legions thrice repelled,

Thrice returned through blood and fire.

Thus, above the storms of time,

Towering to the sacred spheres,

Stand the Pyramids sublime,—

Rocks amid the flood of years.

Now the veteran Chief drew nigh,

Conquest towering on his crest,

Valor beaming from his eye,

Pity bleeding in his breast.

Britain saw him thus advance

In her guardian-angel’s form;

But he lowered on hostile France,

Like the demon of the storm.

On the whirlwind of the war

High he rode in vengeance dire;

To his friends a leading star,

To his foes consuming fire.

Then the mighty poured their breath,

Slaughter feasted on the brave!

’T was the carnival of death:

’T was the vintage of the grave.

Charged with Abercrombie’s doom,

Lightning winged a cruel ball:

’T was the herald of the tomb,

And the hero felt the call,—

Felt, and raised his arm on high;

Victory well the signal knew,

Darted from his awful eye,

And the force of France o’erthrew.

But the horrors of that fight

Were the weeping Muse to tell,

O, ’t would cleave the womb of night,

And awake the dead that fell!

Gashed with honorable scars,

Low in Glory’s lap they lie;

Though they fell, they fell like stars,

Streaming splendor through the sky.