Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
Peschiera
 
Arthur Hugh Clough (1819–61)
 
 
WHAT voice did on my spirit fall,
Peschiera, when thy bridge I crost?
“’T is better to have fought and lost,
Than never to have fought at all.”
 
The tricolor—a trampled rag—        5
Lies dirt and dust; the lines I track
By sentries’ boxes, yellow, black,
Lead up to no Italian flag.
 
I see the Croat soldier stand
Upon the grass of your redoubts;        10
The eagle with his black wing flouts
The breadth and beauty of your land.
 
Yet not in vain, although in vain,
O men of Brescia! on the day
Of loss past hope, I heard you say        15
Your welcome to the noble pain.
 
You said: “Since so it is, good-bye,
Sweet life, high hope; but whatsoe’er
May be, or must, no tongue shall dare
To tell, ‘The Lombard fear’d to die!’ ”        20
 
You said (there shall be answer fit):
“And if our children must obey,
They must; but, thinking on this day,
’T will less debase them to submit.”
 
You said (O not in vain you said):        25
“Haste, brothers, haste, while yet we may;
The hours ebb fast of this one day,
While blood may yet be nobly shed.”
 
Ah! not for idle hatred, not
For honor, fame, nor self-applause,        30
But for the glory of the cause,
You did what will not be forgot.
 
And though the stranger stand, ’t is true,
By force and fortune’s right he stands:
By fortune, which is in God’s hands,        35
And strength, which yet shall spring in you.
 
This voice did on my spirit fall,
Peschiera, when thy bridge I crost:
“’T is better to have fought and lost,
Than never to have fought at all.”        40
 

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