Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Spain, &c.
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV.  1876–79.
 
Belgium: Fontenoy
Battle of Fontenoy, 1745
Thomas Davis (1814–1845)
 
THRICE, at the huts of Fontenoy, the English column failed,
And twice the lines of Saint Antoine the Dutch in vain assailed;
For town and slope were filled with fort and flanking battery,
And well they swept the English ranks, and Dutch auxiliary.
As vainly, through De Barri’s wood, the British soldiers burst,        5
The French artillery drove them back, diminished and dispersed.
The bloody Duke of Cumberland beheld with anxious eye,
And ordered up his last reserve, his latest chance to try.
On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, how fast his generals ride!
And mustering come his chosen troops, like clouds at eventide.        10
 
Six thousand English veterans in stately column tread,
Their cannon blaze in front and flank; Lord Hay is at their head;
Steady they step adown the slope, steady they climb the hill;
Steady they load, steady they fire, moving right onward still,
Betwixt the wood and Fontenoy, as through a furnace-blast,        15
Through rampart, trench, and palisade, and bullets showering fast;
And on the open plain above they rose, and kept their course,
With ready fire and grim resolve, that mocked at hostile force:
Past Fontenoy, past Fontenoy, while thinner grow their ranks,—
They break, as broke the Zuyder Zee through Holland’s ocean banks.        20
 
More idly than the summer flies, French tirailleurs rush round;
As stubble to the lava tide, French squadrons strew the ground;
Bombshell, and grape, and round-shot tore, still on they marched and fired,—
Fast, from each volley, grenadier and voltigeur retired.
“Push on, my household cavalry!” King Louis madly cried;        25
To death they rush, but rude their shock,—not unavenged they died.
On through the camp the column trod,—King Louis turns his rein:
“Not yet, my liege,” Saxe interposed, “The Irish troops remain”;
And Fontenoy, famed Fontenoy, had been a Waterloo,
Were not these exiles ready then, fresh, vehement, and true.
*        *        *        *        *
        30
 
 
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