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Oh! thou eternal Homer! I have now
To paint a siege, wherein more men were slain,
To vie with thee would be about as vain
If not in poetry, at least in fact;
And fact is truth, the grand desideratum!
But now the town is going to be attack'd;
Great deeds are doing-how shall I relate 'em ?
Oh, ye great bulletins of Bonaparte!
Oh, ye less grand long lists of kill'd and wounded! Shade of Leonidas! who fought so hearty,
When my poor Greece was once, as now, surrounded!
A portion of your fading twilight hues,
When I call "fading" martial immortality,
Some sucking hero is compell'd to rear,
Of deeds to human happiness most dear, Turns out to be a butcher in great business, Afflicting young folks with a sort of dizziness.
Medals, ranks, ribbons, lace, embroidery, scarlet,
As purple to the Babylonian harlot :
An uniform to boys is like a fan
To women; there is scarce a crimson varlet
But deems himself the first in glory's van.
But glory's glory; and if you would find
At least he feels it, and some say he sees,
This canto, ere my Muse perceives fatigue.
Hark! through the silence of the cold dull night,
Along the leaguer'd wall and bristling bank
The stars peep through the vapours dim and dank, Which curl in curious wreaths-How soon the smoke Of hell shall pall them in a deeper cloak !
Here pause we for the present-as even then
Thousands of whom were drawing their last breath! A moment-and all will be life again!
The march! the charge! the shouts of either faith! Hurra! and Allah! and-one moment more
The death-cry drowning in the battle's roar.
NOTE TO CANTO VII.
Was teaching his recruits to use the bayonet.
Fact: Souvaroff did this in person.
Он blood and thunder! and oh blood and wounds! These are but vulgar oaths, as you may deem, Too gentle reader! and most shocking sounds : And so they are; yet thus is glory's dream Unriddled, and as my true Muse expounds
At present such things, since they are her theme, So be they her inspirers! Call them Mars, Bellona, what you will-they mean but wars.
All was prepared-the fire, the sword, the men
The army, like a lion from his den,
March'd forth with nerve and sinews bent to slay-
A human Hydra, issuing from its fen
To breathe destruction on its winding way, Whose heads were heroes, which, cut off in vain, Immediately in others grew again.
History can only take things in the gross ;
In balancing the profit and the loss,
War's merit it by no means might enhance, To waste so much gold for a little dross,
As hath been done, mere conquest to advance.
The drying up a single tear has more
Of honest fame than shedding seas of gore.
And why? because it brings self-approbation;
Though they may make corruption gape or stare,
And such they are-and such they will be found.
Whose every battle-field is holy ground,
Which breathes of nations saved, not worlds undone.
The night was dark, and the thick mist allow'd
And in the Danube's waters shone the same,
Long booming of each peal on peal, o'ercame
The column order'd on the assault scarce pass'd
Answering the christian thunders with like voices;
And one enormous shout of "Allah!" rose
Hurling defiance: city, stream, and shore
With thick'ning canopy the conflict o'er, Vibrate to the Eternal name. Hark! through All sounds it pierceth, "Allah! Allah! Hu!"'
The columns were in movement, one and all;
Though led by Arseniew, that great son of slaughter,
As brave as ever faced both bomb and ball.
Carnage (so Wordsworth tells you) is God's daughter :"
If he speak truth, she is Christ's sister, and
Just now behaved as in the Holy Land.