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The Maiden of Moscow

A Poem, in Twenty-One Cantos. By the Lady Emmeline Stuart Wortley
1 occurrence of outer space
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Meanwhile had Barclay with the Right,
'Gainst Prince Eugene fought desperate fight!—
When Borodino captured fell—
Eugene pushed onward nobly well—
Nor left the foemen breathing space—
But crossed the Kologha in face
Of that Redoubt—their strongest place!—
The Russians reckoned chiefly there,
On their crowned heights of threatening air,
Hedged round with broad ravines—and steep—
And on their Foe's exhaustion deep!—
Frowned their entrenchments—stern and strong—
By dread artillery flanked along;—
Bristling with flames and iron—shone
The borders of those Heights—unwon!—
But all their Elements of Power—
Art—Nature—failed in the opening hour!—
All—all—gave way—all sank and failed—
By the French Fury first assailed!—


The dread French Fury's long-famed burst—
Its fatal shock—its fiercest—first!—
All tongues full well might celebrate
That shock—most like the crush of Fate!—


'Twas Eighteen hundred Men of Might,
Led on by Bonnami aright,
That well atchieved—that feat of power—
And stamped that proud Immortal Hour!—
'Twas there that valiant Fabvier fought—
Whose tongue Defeat's dark tidings brought
From Salamanca's severed plain—
He represents Gaul's Host in Spain!—
He proudly represents that Host,
As in its days of loftiest boast!—
The Army there,—'mid the Army here,—
Seemed in his Person to appear,
Who fights—a valiant volunteer!—
Marked—'midst the foremost of the first
He raged—through that high valorous burst—
With rivalry of glory fired,
By which all Heroes shine inspired!—
Still that Far Host shall fire the front
Through him,—and bear the keenliest brunt!—
In that Redoubt he wounded fell,—
Short-lived their triumph—sooth to tell!—
Since too precipitately pushed
The assault—to which they maddening rushed—


Or those who followed, all too slack,
Were found in seconding the attack!—


Morand's brave Troops were thus, alone,
Into the heart of danger thrown!—
Ten of September morn 'twas then,
Friand with his well-ordered men,
Not yet the attack upon their right,
Commenced 'gainst Semmanowska's might—
And on their left the Italian guard,
The troops of Broussier and Gérard,
Not yet in line—no aid bestowed—
While fiery vengeance wakening glowed!—
The Russians, from the amazement deep,
Recovering—started as from sleep!—
And forward rushed from every side—
Even stung to phrenzied pitch of pride!—
Graced Koutosoff himself their head,
While Yermoloff, too, shared the lead—
One Brave Battalion singly stood
Firm,—'gainst the advancing torrent-flood!—
Adventuring even with levelled steel,
To brook their shock of stormy zeal,
'Twas soon enveloped—crushed—driven out—
From that too famed, and dire Redoubt—
One-third of its brave men fall there,
And scowl on Heaven with Death's stone-stare,
There its bold valiant Leader lies
Pierced through with twenty wounds—he dies!—



Drunk, wild and fevered with success,
Advanced the foes in dreadfulness!—
Attacking fiercely in their turn!—
Vengeance!—with thy hot joys they burn!—
On that sole point united now—
Reigns all that ravening War can shew;
His whole mad fury, strength, and skill,
The storm-world of his tameless will!—
Firm stood the French for four long hours,
Though blind with thick sulphureous showers—
Though pressed as by Unearthly Powers—
On that Volcano's slope of doom,—
That blazing and Tempestuous Tomb!—
It vomited its flames of death—
That scorched their souls with blasting breath—
Till Madness seemed even Matter's life!—
Racked into Phrenzy-fit through Strife!—


Roared evermore in fury free—
Far-heard—the Foe's Artillery!
And still 'mid that terrific scene
Towered gallantly the Prince Eugene!
To these he cries,—upcheering well,
“Ye were—ye arethe Invincible!—
Since those who once that title win,
Which steels with strength without—within,—
Those—those who once win this and wear,
Can die not into Shame's despair,


For doubly dying, They should fall!”—
They heard—they answered to his call!—
To those he shouts, triumphantly,
“At Wagram—Soldiers!—think how ye
Proved Victors—Victors—still with me!”—
To these—to those—to All and Each—
His own high soul he strove to teach!—
Fresh succours came his might to swell,
And aid those dangers to repel;—
The Legion of the Vistula
Advanced, with cheering proud hurrah!—
Now rallying all their Forces there,
One stern attack they yet would dare!—
When furious cries, that startling stirred,
Proceeding from their left were heard!
There Ouwaroff, with a numerous Force,
And thousands of the Cossack Horse,
A bold diversion made,—and fast
Attacked the o'erpowered Reserve aghast!
In dire disorder—this they threw,
Till thither swift the Viceroy flew,
With Delzons brave—Ornano too;—
They backward drove their Foe ere long,
More loud and vehement than strong!—
Then to the Attack returned in haste
With added ardour steeled and braced!—


Murat, inactive on the Plain,
Was darkly destined to remain;


Sharp loss his cavalry endured
From Russia's troops, too well secured!—
Those vast Redoubts that frowned between
Victory's broad way and brave Eugene!—
Still skreened the Russians from the fate
Which must their suffering Foes await—
To the Emperor sent the Chief, for aid,
And earnestly, prompt succours prayed;—
'Twas all too late—too long delayed!—
The Russians have found time anew
To form their preparations true;
The third time thus they well renewed
Their left flank there, in dauntless mood!
The Cavalry Montbrun had led—
(Montbrun—then numbered with the dead—)
Murat hath summoned,—the command
Hath Caulaincourt of that bold Band!—
“Forth!—and avenge your Leader's death!”—
He cried, with zeal's inspiring breath!
“And Caulaincourt!—do thou lead on!
Enough!—then glory must be won!”—
To him points out the Warlike King,
The untiring Enemy's fresh Wing,—
This must he break unquailing through,
There wasteful way must hack and hew;—
Even his fierce path must stoutly urge
Toward their Grand Battery's dreadful gorge!—
Then, while the advantage following still,
The Light Horse wheeled—with watchful skill,
He leftward straight must sweep in haste
With his bold Cuirassiers well placed,—


Even leftward pass with breathless speed,
And straight his hurrying horsemen lead,
To take abruptly in the rear
That dread Redoubt of doom and fear,
Whose front fires still are mowing fast
The Viceroy's ranks, that breast the blast!—


And what was Caulaincourt's reply—
While proudly beamed his kindling eye?—
There look to see me, soon!”—he said;—
“Ere some brief minutes more have sped,
Will I be there!—alive or dead!”—
He spake,—and instant hurrying flew!—
On fire, that deathless deed to do!—
All in his path was straight o'erthrown,
The way—the day was all his own!—
First entered he the dire Redoubt,
With brandished blade and echoing shout!—
Foremost wert thou and first of all!—
And first and foremost too—to fall!—
Thou fell'st!—Death's Angel smiling shone!—
The Angel of Victory's mien he won!—
Thy Conquest and thy Grave were one!—
Then to the Grand Equerry straight
Hastening, they told his brother's fate;
Big tears of anguish burning broke
From his lowered eyes—they speechless spoke!—
With pitying tones Napoleon said,
“Thou'st heard!—Retire, and mourn!”—his head


The sorrowing brother bent, while bled
His heart afresh—nor spoke,—but staid!


The Viceroy with his troops drew near
The mouth of that Volcano drear;
When suddenly they saw, amazed,
The fires extinguished where they blazed!
Its sulphurous smoke-clouds checked, dispersed,—
While there a sun-crowned Vision burst!—
Far gleamed its crest—intensely bright—
One blinding glare of burning light,—
With the armour's dazzlery of day,
Which Gaul's proud Cuirassiers display!
Like moving meteors their array!—
Their sumptuous battle-harness burned,
And thrice the enlightening rays returned!—
It flashed and shivered on the eye—
As Flame was turned to Panoply!—
And burned along the sun, where beamed
On that cleared air its smile,—and seemed
As though from thence live lightnings streamed!—
Those Heights they see with one proud glance,
Late Russia's—now are claimed by France!—


O'erjoyed, to that transcendant scene
Rushed forward fast, the proud Eugene!
That glorious Victory, fresh and fair,
He rushed to terminate and share!—


But yet the Russians, staunch and stern,
Paused—to the conflict to return;
Not yet had they abandoned all,—
They heed—they hear the rallying call!—
Peasants, who ne'er before had been
In Battle's storm, unawed were seen,
With front courageous—bold and keen!—
By thousands these, like men inspired,
Rushed forward, still untamed—untired!
All shouting loud with one accord—
Have Mercy on us, Thou!—Oh! Lord!”—
Yea!—shouting loud and louder now—
Lord!—Lord!—have mercy on us—Thou!”—
Their national and sacred cry,
That long-resounding,—shook the sky!—
They rushed to dare, and do, and die!
Plunged deep 'midst Battle's thickest gloom,
They crossed their brows—they braved their doom!—
Even where War's deadliest death-storms lowered,
They strove—o'erpowering and o'erpowered!—
It was a touching sight to see
Those Serfs strive thus devotedly;—
No pomp—no panoply was theirs,
Each one his rude grey doublet wears;
Their beards, thick streaming, clothe their breasts,—
Their long hair on their shoulders rests;
Hundreds have fallen—step hundreds more
To fill the files up as before,—
Astonishment nor awe they shewed,
The Enthusiasts with such ardour glowed!


No feeling—save the one —they felt—
Tremendous blows in might they dealt;—
The Eternal Lord of Battles wrought
A world of power in each high thought!
And made, for Russia's aid and boast
Each rugged Hero's arm—a Host!—
And thousands died for hearth and shrine—
Earth's holiest!—which shall brightliest twine
With all most loved of Heaven's divine!—


Russia's armed Cohorts still returned—
While madness raged, and fury burned,—
Returned unto the fierce attack,
Retrampling their blood-deluged track!
The ground was slippery with their gore—
The Land's life-veins seemed running o'er;
They fought—they fell—they groaned and died—
The stern and threatening base beside,
Of ramparts they had reared in pride,
To hurl the foe to sore disgrace—
Defied to his detested face!—
Their corses now warm-weltering crowd
Round those strong works—those Bulwarks proud!—
They mocked the cannon and the sword—
Their gallant blood like water poured,—
And falling—left fresh bulwarks still—
Those corses heaped in darkening hill!—
The fame—the example—the unslain will!—
The memory like a Banner high,
Startling Defeat with Victory!—


Their noble Deaths even thus shall give
The Lesson that shall more than live!—


Their last attacking column came
Toward that Redoubt of dreadful fame,
Reft of the Artillery's powerful aid,
That doubtless had been thus delayed,—
Thus kept from that terrific scene
By many a barrier-like ravine!
Belliard some thirty cannons brought
'Gainst these, that thus fresh combat sought!
Up to the Cannons' mouths they came—
Forth burst at once their clouds and flame!
Those iron showers of shattering death—
Soon crushed and whelmed with hideous wrath—
The Brave that trod that desperate path!—
They paused—wheeled round—then, half destroyed,
Retreated—ere they even deployed!—
On this Great Battery's left, meanwhile,
Had Grouchy striven in gallant style,
And fierce repeated charges made—
Red Victory's stormy cause to aid!—


The Sun goes freighted with a load
Of gorgeous terrors—stern and broad—
Down his bright slope of western road!—
Empire hath wavered in his ray,
On this destruction-darkened day,


And even his Crown of Light seemed riven,
Scattered through that chaotic Heaven!—
And still War's rampant fiends aloud,
Called from their dense and sulphurous shroud,
The blood of nations seemed to flow
Round their stern feet of fiery glow!—
But drunken with that blood—they rave—
And roll them in the reeking wave—
And more and more, they claim and crave!—
And still to either side they cry,
With maddening argument and high—
While those untiring, strenuous foes
Still sternly meet—and struggling close—
Proud North!—with all thy Powers advance!—
And Charge!—Charge!—Charge!—Resistless France!
Russia!—ten thousand banners wave—
And strike!—to 'stablish and to save!—
Give all thy war-cries to the blast—
And stand unflinching to the last!—
And thou!—the unmatched in Glory's boast!—
Country of Conquest!—shall thy host
Pause till the World is won or lost?—
Canst Thou ere deem thy work is done
Till Worlds are lost—or Worlds are won!—
Russia!—with all thy strengths advance,
And Charge!—Charge!—Charge!—Victorious France!


Bursts thunder-crash on thunder-crash—
Where Cohorts hurled on Cohorts dash—


Where, with chaotic shock, they clash,
Till Air is made one dizzying flash!—
The Battle-Billows roared afar—
The Billows of the bounding War!—
Skies shook—Earth shuddered—as they trod—
Trampling her scarred Death-deluged sod!—
Even like a march of mountains came
Those Battle-thunderers—breathing flame!—
(While like Volcanic Hills—far round,
They showered destruction, terror-crowned!—)
So trembled to their trampling tread
Pale Earth—sore panting with her dread—
While strangely wavering to and fro,
Winged Hurricane-Eclipsings go,
The gorgeous Anarchy spread wide
Still shines ablaze with warrior pride—
With pomp sublime, on either side!—
While the Eagle-standards downward bring
To their dread pride of place—Heaven's king!—
So bright the emblazoned breadth of gold
Still shines—though gore hath dimmed their fold!
Oh! for a blaze of words to tell
That scene—the indescribable!
Winged words of fury and of flame—
Even dreadful as Napoleon's name!—
Like stormy sun's red—red as blood—
To speak that scene scarce-understood—
Such—only such—might make it good,
Oh!—for a breath of fire and flood!—
A sound that should o'erflow all space—
Pealed back by loud worlds in their place!



The Battle-chargers snort and scream—
The brandished bickering weapons gleam!
Recoil and rally—charge and flight—
Make all a dread to Sense and Sight!
The thousand-thundering shouts arise—
Far shattering the over-shaken skies!
The Heaven-electrifying sound,
Rolls on without a lapse or bound!
Launched on War's living lightning seems
The World—that rocks—and heaves—and beams!—
A Stormy Sun, itself it gleams!—
Keeps this, indeed, its place of old?—
All seems down steep Destruction rolled!
All Earth in madness moved,—o'erthrown,
To  outer space —driven—racked—undone!
With frantic charge, and desperate rage,
The unbounded war the champions wage!
Still the Ocean Death-waves swell!—
The Hero-homicides rush on—
As Heaven itself were to be won—
By deeds of blackest Hell!—
Oh!—stay the hand! Oh!—cease the strife!—
Think—think—who breathed the breath of life—
Its quick, informing breath,
In nostrils stretched with anguish now—
Yea!—think who bade the Spirit glow—
Who stamped His Image on the brow
Ye dare to stamp with Death!



No thought in those dread hours of doom—
Can softening—humanizing come—
To souls that seem to fall,
In self-annihilation there—
Maddened with instincts of despair—
And hate and horror—till they wear
A shapeless form—a deadly air—
Of Death and Ruin all!
Like spiritual fragments cast
Into the lowest dust at last,
The Immortal Souls seem hurled!
Self-scathed—thus deathfully employed!—
While Men that murderous Scene enjoyed,
Glorying—destroying—and destroyed!—
As they did build a World!
And Fiends are surely at their side,
To prompt each fiercer step and stride—
Themselves with Worse inspired!—
Aye!—sure, even Fiends—foul Fiends paused there—
With tranced Amazement's stony stare—
Wondering what next Man's rage would dare!
Thus fevered on and fired!
As once they trembled and adored,
Before Creation's awful Lord!—
So—near those Wielders of the Sword—
With envy stung—with hatred gored—
They shuddering—marvelled—and abhorred—
They cursed—and they admired!—



Proud Gallia's warriors scoured the Plain—
Assured their bloody Victory's reign—
And revelled in their might!
But Muscovy's brave hosts subdued—
Retreating—may not be pursued—
Bulwarked and fenced aright!
Still echoed their defying shouts—
While fresh ravines and armed redoubts—
Behind them, skreened and guarded well
Their lines—full conqueror-like they fell!
Proud firmness glorified retreat—
And nobly dignified Defeat!
Their Battle had in sooth no end!—
Still furious,—they themselves defend!—
(Till shrouding Night—dusk shadowy friend!—
Comes with their glorious gloom to blend—
And o'er their broken ranks to brood!—
So crushed—so wronged—so unsubdued!—)
Thus covered they with watchful care,
The road that led to Moscow fair!—
Their Holy City—ark of rest—
Their Home—their Haven—bright and blessed!
Fast from the Second range of Heights,
That Foe, who still untiring fights,
With stern Artilley's murderous burst,
O'erwhelmeth fearfully the First!—
Which late abandoned, those thinned bands,
Into the Gaul's triumphant hands!


The gallant Viceroy hath concealed,
Even on their Valour's well-fought field
His shorn Exhausted ranks that found
Shelter in that deep-hollowed ground!
Behind the Entrenchments half-destroyed,
They crouched—thus harassed—thus annoyed!—
Skreened by their shapeless parapets—
While roared the Artillery's thunderous threats—
There cramped in painful posture long—
They watched—once terrible—and strong!—
By the Enemy's yet glorious wreck,
Thus sternly, darkly kept in check!—
In check, Itself, by them, too, kept—
While still War's angry Tempest swept!


The crowning Victory was at last
Atchieved—and all was o'er and past!
The firing slackened by degrees—
Till died the tumult down the breeze!
Hushed slept the plain—and hushed the hill—
A thousand cannon-mouths are still!
Late from their throats far-shattering poured,
The death-ball-showers—that raged and roared—
In triumph hideous and abhorred!
The wearied now from toil may cease—
The wounded turn to die in peace!
Came messengers fast spurring in—
From all parts swift, their way they win—
To him who marked the expiring din


Gaul's sceptered Chieftain!—he received,
The tidings of that Fight atchieved—
With something of a chastened pride—
With boding heaviness allied!
His sword now Poniatowski sheathes—
From Strife,—Sebastiani breathes!—
Victorious both—while yet they see—
From sharp pursuit and capture free—
Entrenched their halting Enemy!—
His fresh position hath he ta'en—
And there well-strengthened shall remain!
'Twas late—with toil the chiefs were bent—
Their chargers worn—their men were faint—
Ranks thinned—their ammunition spent!
Night came—dark Angel of Repose!—
And bade the Battle-Pageant close!
Pale Spirits of the grave with Her
Seemed there to brood and minister!—


And how did brave De Courcy bear
His part in the awful conflict there?
Be sure in Battle's deadliest brunt,
Still passed he to the fiery front!
And well Montjoye—his gallant steed—
Served through that day his master's need!
And midst the Battle-thunders stood—
Oft fetlock-deep in reeking blood!—
Devouring all the Field of Fight,
With his impatient spirit's might!


And well the Widow's Son adored,
Wielded his Warrior-Father's sword!
And still where'er might Fame be won—
Dashed his hot Battle-charger on!
Even of the first was he who sprang
Where shivered weapons clashed and rang,—
In that high-reared Redoubt, which saw
A world of agony and awe;
And ere the dreadful spot was gained—
While yet the conflict waxed and waned—
He was of those who burst away—
Like thunderbolts in rushing sway—
And drove their chargers mad with wrath,
Right 'cross the opponents' dreadful path!
Earth shook like sudden-splintered rock,
With that dire, deadly-crashing shock;—
Too terrible for eye or ear
To mark—save where Rage swallowed Fear!


And in that dread Redoubt he stood—
While boiled his high heroic blood!—
Near one—a gallant friend and tried—
Near valiant young De Fontanes' side!—
Saint Marcelin De Fontanes—he—
Who, wounded there, bled gloriously!
There, streamed too, staunch De Courcy's gore—
Though less severe the wound he bore!
And proud distinctions both received—
For those fair deeds they there atchieved;


And those high wounds they hailed with pride—
Bleeding and glorying side by side!
While round them revelled far and free,
The dash and roar of War's wild sea!
Yet had he shuddered ere the Fight—
While flashed on Memory's yearning sight,
A Form that seemed itself to throw,
Betwixt him and the outraged Foe—
That raised the arm—and waved the hand—
Avengeress of the insulted Land!—
And bade the Invader shrink and pause—
And cursed his Country's Claim—and Cause!


Night o'er the Field fast spread her cloud—
Sore needed it such pitying shroud!
To veil the deadly horrors there—
Whose hideousness even ill might bear—
Those, who had borne their own stern share,
Of all that day's deep warlike care!
His orders clear, Napoleon gave—
In coldly-solemn tones and grave!
The Young Guard had the charge that night,
Of that dark finished field of fight,
This were they ordered to defend—
(In nought must they o'erpass that end—)
Whate'er might come—whate'er might chance—
Must they retreat not—nor advance!—
Deeper and deeper in their hue,
The shades of night fast thickening grew!


Murat—whom no fatigues could tame—
No glory satiate—hurrying came—
His step, the wind—his brow, a flame!—
And pressed the Emperor then once more,
As he had keenly pressed before,
To bid his guards' stout cavalry—
Beneath his martial orders be!—


“The Legions of the Foe,”—he cried—
While flashed his eye's dark burning pride—
“In haste and in disorder move—
Then deign my scheme to aid—approve—
I fain their ruin would complete—
Lay their crushed fragments at your feet!—
Pursue—prevent their safe retreat!”—
Napoleon checked his hope at once,
By calm, considerate, stern response,
And with rebuking glance did meet
His wild intemperate ardour's heat;
The Imperial Leader felt and knew
He must preserve that Cohort true—
Still deeper that conviction grew—
While strange events came thickening round,
And circumstance portentous frowned!—
Europe 'twixt him and France stretched wide—
These Warriors must not quit his side!—


To Europe he announced, ere long,
The safety of that Phalanx strong—


That Phalanx of devoted men—
So needful and so cherished then!—
The proud despatches of the day
Proclaimed this truth in strenuous way—
His foes throughout the world shall droop—
Nor feed upon the faintest hope!—
So long as still remains untouched
That Guard—whose safety he avouched—
He felt secure of his allies,
And championed 'gainst his enemies!—
Safe—safe he felt from Friend and Foe—
While that much-prized Reserve was so!—


The glorious victory just obtained—
Without its gallant aid was gained—
Conquest could crown the arms of France
Without that dread Reserve's advance!—
His Actual Power, and that which sprung
From Man's opinion,—round him clung
While still remained at his command,
That faithful, formidable Band!—
While still His Guard surrounding girt—
Unthinned—unweakened—and unhurt!—
Yet—while he pealed in haughty tone
That boast to Europe's ear made known—
Strange oracles disturbed his own!—
Far different musings—grave and chill—
Much pained his labouring bosom still—
And ever-deepening frowned the thought,
Full dearly was his Conquest bought,


A host of far-famed Chieftains brave
That day had delved their gory grave!—
Not one of his own circle round,
But mourneth with a grief profound
Some kindred fallen—some long-tried friend
Whose lives had found untimely end!—
For on that day—that awful day—
Of bloody Conflict's bloodiest sway—
Had fallen the fate of Battles stern
On all the loftiest—in their turn—
On all the noblest—thus they mourn!—
Brothers for brothers weeping wail—
Friends sigh for friends—as deathly pale
As those they could not shield nor save—
Bestowed in Battle's blushing grave!
The encircling countenances there—
One shade—one stamp—woe's heaviest wear!—


When Victory's sun-blaze boast shall reach
Fair France—this triumph's might to teach—
Oh!—what a Cloud of Mourning cold,
Shall all its sheen and pomp enfold!—
Oh!—what a Cloud of Mourning pale
Shall pall it with Eclipsing Veil!—
Through all the host—in even his tent—
Her haughty forehead,—Victory bent,—
As touched with lingering languishment—
Down-weighed with streaming deathly dews,
That all her laurelled wreaths suffuse!


Throughout those Hosts—in even his tent—
Crowned Victory like a Victim leant
And clasped her hands—and bowed her head—
And called—low wailing—called—Her Dead!—
No flatterers even were fluttering there—
Long funeral shadows dimmed the air!—


That conquest, too, was scarce complete,
The Foe had bowed not at his feet!
Had he—into the abyss of Strife—
Risking a throbbing World of Life
Precipitately plunged—in vain,
But half a triumph thus to gain?—
Now left with thinned, exhausted Band—
Bleeding and broken, there to stand,
In midst of an infuriate Land?—
Surrounded by a nation stung
To wildest phrenzy—galled and wrung—
A people mad with wrongs and rage—
That swear one boundless war to wage—
To breathe but Battle and his blast—
Till free in Life or Death at last!—
'Midst hideous deserts, too, that spread,
As Earth was doomed—and Nature dead—
And Great Creation's soul was sped!—
Far from all succours—helps—supplies—
Munitions—levies—and allies—
Eight hundred leagues betwixt them thrown,
And all resources of their own;


Shall theirs be failure—wildest—worst—
Shall they in vast Despair—tower First?
Must this, then, be his final fate,
Of Grief—made Greatest of the Great?—
These thoughts throughout that solemn night
Thronged to thy soul with gathered might—
Dread Hero!—once the Fate of Fight!—
And heavy Discontent around,
Mingled with mourning chafed and frowned—
And murmurs rose too boldly near,
(Though scarce designed to meet his ear,—)
While lips that ne'er were wont to blame—
Breathed harsh impeachment on his name!
The Battle of the Day they styled
A planless Battle—vague and wild—
A Victory but of Soldiers—where
No towering genius triumphed fair!—


That night, while howled the autumnal wind,
Accordant with the uneasy mind—
While shook the tents, as shake on walls,
Rent tapestries old—where swells and falls
The armed gust through antique feudal halls—
Importunately clamouring came,
As though to check their pride and tame,
From Russia's Host a swell of sounds,
(That spurned their broad division's bounds),—
Far echoing o'er those Battle-grounds!—
A swell of sounds—of shouts—that told—
How little blenched the Strong and Bold!—


And when young Morn's first gleam was sent,
That flushed and fired the firmament—
Close—close—unto the Imperial tent—
Was sounded suddenly the alarm—
And rang the cry, “The Foe!—Arm!—Arm!”—
Aye!—near his place of proud repose
Strange!—there the alert was heard—which shews,
How fearless still the unrouted foes!—
Seemed this an insult to the might
Of those who conquered in the fight!—


When dawned that stern tempestuous morn,
Which naught of cheering might adorn,
Bestrode his horse without a word—
The Sceptered Chief—the Victor Lord—
With thoughtful mien and saddened look,
His way unto the Field he took—
That Field of Battle—drear and wild—
Where mounds of ghastly dead were piled—
Ne'er yet might Field of Conflict shew
So horrible a scene of woe—
All adjuncts dire more stamped it so!—
The wind with bellowing howl swept strong,
Those dreary heights and plains along,
It howled—as though in savage scorn—
Of all men there had brooked and borne—
While tossing dark against the sky,
The giant pines seemed sweeping by,


Though rooted ever to the spot—
They seemed to pass—while passed they not!—
So swayed they—bending—rocking—driven—
Now Earthwards—rampant now to Heaven!—
The stern and sombre foliage sad—
In which those groaning boughs were clad—
While heaved their sable banners free—
Well-cloathed that funeral scenery!—


Scorched ruins cumbered all the ground,
Fallen hamlets smoked in ashes round;—
Heaped blackened stones—and smouldering piles—
Frowned dark, where once gleamed peaceful smiles!
The sky was like one cloud of gloom—
Even there was colouring of the tomb!—
The sky was all one angry cloud,
Where o'er that angry earth it bowed—
Hissed round, the dull chill sapping rain,
Whose drops seemed falling there amain—
Cold tears shed o'er the colder slain!—
These poured and plashed on that heaped plain—
Where wide Destruction dwelt!—
As though in very mockery shed—
Tears, that no feeling shewed nor said—
Showered—(not from hearts that loved and bled!—)
Unconscious o'er the Unconscious Dead—
Unfeeling—and Unfelt!—


Ploughed was that plain—defaced—upturned—
Which that winged wind so harshly spurned—
Where shot and shell had bounding burned—
There hideous sights the eye discerned,
That froze the blood with fear!—
All strewn with ruins groaned that ground—
Where human ruins dreariest frowned—
One world of wreck lay yawning round,
'Twas Desolation's haunt profound—
'Twas Horror—far and near!


Thick, countless scattered fragments strewed,
That vast Death-haunted Solitude,
Where Life, in Storms had been!—
There lances shivered even like glass,
And trampled casque—and crushed cuirass—
And forms once proud—once loved—alas!—
Distorted to a shapeless mass—
Confusedly blent were seen!—
There gleamed lopped plumes and banners rent,
Cannons o'erturned and faulchions bent,
In wild disorder cast!—
And there the murderous grape-shot lay—
That well its slaughterous part did play—
Through all that dark and desperate day—
Thick—thick—along the trampled way,
As hailstones heaped in close array,
When thunderstorms are past!—


In all directions round were seen,
Gaunt shapes of bowed and ghastly mien,
O'er their companions fallen they lean,
Rifling the dead all hungry-keen,—
For food to cherish life!—
Their eyes but glare with wolvish stare—
No human heart outspeaketh there—
Their very soul is Strife!—
Hideous the wounds that shock the eyes,
Where'er some slaughtered Frenchman lies,—
Their Foe's death-balls, of dreadful size—
O'ermatched the balls of France!—
With ponderous swing—with murderous sweep—
Did those huge death-balls thundering leap—
They ploughed tremendous gashes deep—
Disfiguring foully those that sleep—
Till shrank the shuddering glance!


Behold—all mournfully revealed,
Some cheerless bivouacks on that field
So sombre and so dread—
Mute—mute are they—no voice is heard—
No lightsome tone—no soldier-word—
The men remain unmoved—unstirred—
And scarce raise up the head!
Their voices sheathed like their sheathed sword—
Sink hushed—while no vain plaints are poured—
And they—so fierce when Battle roared—
Respect the neighbouring Dead!


Not now the old Battle-songs of Pride,
Sound echoing far from every side—
Chorussed by hundreds loud!
No stories now are boastful told—
Of by-gone fights and fields of old—
In Silence all are bowed!—
Grouped round their Eagles proud were seen,
Soldiers and subalterns of mien
Though saddened—yet full high and keen!—
While mute with thoughtful looks they lean
In stern—though sobered guise!
But joy was roused—and doubt was quelled—
When there—before them they beheld
Their much-loved Emperor on the Field!—
Then—thousand wakening hopes impelled—
Heightening, the tide of transport swelled—
Loud burst their warrior-cries!
Wild looked those groupes of glorying men—
Excited and upwakened then—
As by fresh Victories!—
So gladly did they hail him there—
Who moved with stern and troubled air—
O'er that portentous heath!
While many a heavy mark they wore
Of that fierce conflict lately o'er;
Their cloathes all soiled with dust and gore—
That tattered, told of struggles sore—
Deep blackening stains of powder bore—
Their Life looked lorn as Death!



Thicker and thicker piled around—
The dead even darkened all the ground—
A sad and wond'rous sight!
Proof of the courage deep and rare
Of those that had been vanquished there;—
Far rather—thus did Thought declare—
Than of proud Victory free and fair!
Triumphant, laurelled Fight!
'Twas known, when paled that day of blood—
Their Foes—in dauntless, changeless mood—
Retreated calm—in order good—
And, scarce discountenanced, withstood—
Disaster and Distress!
That Field of Battle's sterile gain—
Might prove a triumph vague and vain—
For those who reaped success!
Since battle-grounds enow remain,
And many a vast unmeasured plain—
Where well may She her cause maintain
In Russia's Boundlessness!
And for her Foes?—can they then chain
And whirl in Victory's thundering train,
What thus they snatched with strife and pain—
Shall not their triumph surely wane—
And swiftly—less and less!


Was this, then, Conquering?—Conquering!—what?—
A speck of ground—a narrowed spot—


Which theirs might not be long!
And that faint furrow they had traced—
From Kowno with disastrous haste,—
'Cross sands and ashes—dreary waste?—
Since this alone their power embraced—
By peasants such might be effaced!
Rude serfs—a chance-armed throng!—
This—this might close behind them now—
As waters, parted by the prow
Of some proud ship no storms may bow—
Shew not where she her path did plough—
While shuts again The Sea!—
Who calls this—Conquering?—Conquering!—Think!—
Have ye not climbed, and towered—to sink?—
Have ye not thus, but neared the brink—
'T were wisdom's part—to flee?—
Now reached that silent cavalcade
The famed Redoubts—there pause they made!—
A ghastly scene was there displayed—
They well may pause and grieve!
Thousands of French—stark—breathless—cold—
Outstretched,—heaped high, the ensanguined mould,
And, prone, in scattered dust, were rolled!—
Drear heavy hints to give,
More Conquerors dead they there behold,
Than Victors yet may live!—
Stay!—'midst, those crowds of corses pale—
That tell dread War's strange hideous tale—
One Form sure breathes even yet!
Yon fiery charger's glancing hoof,
Hath touched him—and a sigh gives proof
His Life-star hath not set!



Then—prodigal of pity—stoops
Napoleon—filled with fears and hopes—
That fainting Form above!
And he—who could be cause of fate
To thousands—who could immolate
Whole nations—He,—the darkly great!—
For One such care could prove!
O'er One could he—with grief o'ercome—
Thus bend with sympathy of gloom!—
He—who hurled Myriads to their tomb—
And signed remorselessly their doom—
O'er One could stoop and sigh!—
Compassionate each throb—each throe—
Feel pang for pang—give woe for woe—
And mourn while generous feelings glow—
And sympathetic sufferings grow—
His Single Misery!
A Voice—even at that moment cried—
In tones of cold, contemptuous pride—
“'Tis but a Russian!—Sire!”
Calm came Napoleon's quick reply—
“A fallen and conquered enemy
Becomes a Brother in the eye
Of all who merit Victory!”
He spake with chastened ire!—
Then bade that the injured sufferer there
Should be removed with tenderest care—


And soothed and tended straight!
Bade that whate'er might serve his need,
Should be administered with speed—
Thus willed the Man of Fate!


Then turning to his followers round—
He bade them scour the encumbered ground—
And seek out the distressed!
While groans and mutterings of despair,
Rose heavy on the inclement air—
And chilled the saddened breast!
Those accents shrill—or faint—or high—
Spoke all of varying agony!
And pained the uneasy sense!
In steep ravines half-hid from sight—
Vast numbers lay in piteous plight—
Tortured with pangs intense!
Some groaned aloud—and some were dumb—
Precipitated there fell some—
And hundreds more had crawling come—
And dragged themselves with pain—
To shield the racked and writhing form—
From that dire pelting of the storm—
Or furious foe's fierce train!
Some—though by Death's stern grasp enthralled—
On their dear, distant country called—
In fond and fervent tone!
While some of tenderer age and frame—
Ill-starred probationers of Fame—


Did faintly, shudderingly exclaim—
And called upon their mother's name—
In deep desertion lone!
Their Mother's name!—Oh! saddest sound!—
With all that wild of Horrors round—
Blessed name!—with Household-memories bound—
Soft memories, hallowed and profound—
Pathetically dear!
Too much your precious music pained—
While cold Despair's last drops were drained—
'Twas sweetness scarce to be sustained—
And still the hovering soul enchained
To Earth's fast-fleeting sphere!


All agonies of Frame and Heart,
Seemed there to hideous life to start—
Beneath that wrathful sky!
Oft—shrilly loud—and sharply clear—
Rang piercing shrieks upon the ear—
Long—long distracting shrieks and drear—
And many a wildering cry!
For Death the unhappy ones implored—
Bathed deep in blood—all gashed and gored—
With many a wild and maniac word—
They called for Mercy's succouring sword—
They shrieked and prayed to die!
There others crouched whose deep despair
Wore Scorn's sardonic, bitter air—
They deigned not to complain!


The while big drops of anguish rolled
Adown their curdling foreheads cold—
And witnessed to their pain!
Amongst the Russians some were seen—
Whose stricken legs had fractured been—
In silence—with determined mien—
And steadfast fortitude serene—
Calm straightening the injured limb!—
Even firmly fastening 'gainst it there
Some stout, strong branch—with strenuous care,
While drenched in blood they swim!—
Then bears another branch their weight—
And 'midst their pangs—how nobly great!—
Thus towards some neighbouring hamlet straight—
They crawled with faultering, staggering gait—
Yet uncomplainingly sedate—
Nor spoke one groan their suffering state!—
Poor objects!—ghast and grim!


Still hissed the rain—and howled the wind—
Fast driving on—with fury blind—
Heightening these horrors all!
And ever through the muttered sounds—
That stirred the very soul's profounds—
Is heard the dull rain as it bounds
To Earth with plashing fall!—
The cold, grey, hurrying, hissing rain—
It beats upon that Purple Plain—


As though with wash of waters fain
'Twould cleanse its dire and dismal stain—
And Slaughter's hues o'ersweep!
Could this, that scarlet shadow find—
Which stains The Crowned Transgressor's mind—
And conscious thoughts incarnadined—
'Twere well!—still let it weep!
But nought should e'er that stain remove—
Not seas beneath—nor springs above—
Vain for the hopeless task should prove—
Those Floods the howling Deluge drove!—
The Founts of Either Deep!—
The Waters o'er the Firmament—
With those beneath broad-mingling blent—
In vain might search and steep!


That sad Review is o'er at last!—
And from that field The Mightiest past—
'Mid howlings of the fitful blast—
And threatenings of dismay!
A sad Review!—and strange—and dread—
Even of the Dying and the Dead—
That choked the Conqueror's way!
And mournful trophies were alone—
Mournful and useless—made his own!—
To speak of that dark triumph flown—
And poorly to adorn!
But some few scattered Prisoners,—proud
'Midst wreck—and wrong—untamed!—unbowed!—


Still fearless—though forlorn!—
And near those Forts, dismantled, found—
Some broken cannon,—from that ground—
Defaced and darkling borne!
And these are all now left to shew
Their conquest o'er their powerful Foe—
Still powerful—still!—Who blow for blow
Shall yet deal out in scorn!—
Murat, meanwhile, without delay,
Swift toward Mojaïsk pursued his way—
There found the Russian's Host!
Scathed Warriors rage like Lions speared!—
These on the o'erlooking heights appeared—
And when those Heights the Victors neared—
So haught a Front The Vanquished reared,
Seemed—Victor-like—their Boast!
Fierce rose Murat's impetuous mood—
Fierce raged his fiery storm of blood—
When there he found himself withstood
By those who scorned to fall!—
His passion foamed to phrenzy high
He bade his Horsemen furiously—
Advance—and conquering—do or die—
Burst—break—their way through all!—


Walls—Gates—Battalions—rent and riven—
To wide destruction instant given—
Shall see his Battle-Thunderers driven
Through all—in triumph free!


Flashed far his dark dilated eye,—
“March!—March!”—is still his whirlwind cry—
“Charge!—Conquerors!—Charge!—crown all!—or die!—
Upon them!—with the sword!—defy!—
Disperse—destroy them—let them fly
Before ye—Heirs of Victory high!—
And whelm them like the Sea!”
At length his cooler judgment came,
To temper this fierce mood of flame,
A lesser Triumph's boast to claim
For once, content was he!—
With smothered indignation flushed,
Their scattered Cossack hosts he crushed—
Where round him—howling mad—they rushed
With savage bravery!—


At length Mojaïsk unbarred was left
A desert place—of all bereft—
A melancholy waste!
In vain to pay them for their toil,
There sought the French for wealth and spoil,
Threading its streets in haste.
'Twas then a feat of valour blazed—
On which Two Hosts admiring gazed—
In Consternation's trance amazed—
So dazzled-blind—their thoughts they raised—
To reach its dread display!—
No far-famed champions—plumed of old—
Ere shewed such courage—calm and bold—


'Midst Danger's worst dismay!—
Impetuously—with hurrying leaps—
Climbed half a hundred men those Steeps
Where bristled Russia's War!—
Of France's Voltigeurs were they,—
The few that dared that dangerous way,
To shape,—from succours far!
Wide scattered round,—these met the eye—
On that Exposed Declivity—
While galled the Foe unwearyingly
Their sharp tormenting fire!—
They seemed at play, with Danger there!—
With such assured—such reckless air,
Rash—dauntless—desperate, they prepare,
To call down vengeance dire!
Of Russia's Cavalry—at first—
Thousands they harassed thus—till burst—
In Fury's wildest heat and worst—
Their victims' stormy ire!—


Dense hostile Squadrons swift surround
The intrepid few—who guard their ground
As though their lives were charmed!—
Straightforth they formed in phalanx close,
Hid by the numbers of their Foes,
That round them circling swarmed!—
Dreadlessly stood they—unallied—
And faced—and fired—on every side—
They formed—fired—faced,—and still defied!—


Still facing—firing still!—
Burst from the ranks of France a sound
Of sorrow and dismay profound—
All felt the shuddering thrill!
Each soldier strained and stretched to see
The movements of their Enemy—
Endeavouring so to guess
His valiant comrades' fate, who thus
Maintained their station perilous,
In this extreme distress!—
The impulse mechanic some obeyed—
Their Musquets loading—straight, they played
Their fancied part aright!
Or crossing, with determined air,
Their bayonets—flushed—fevered there—
They longed to march and fight!—
They counselled these—they challenged those—
They cheered their Friends—they cursed their Foes—
As these could hear—still thundering rose
Their hurried accents loud!—
Some seemed—with the overkindling life—
Rapt in the ecstatic rage of strife—
With triumph and with gladness rife—
Now looked they Conquerors—proud!
And now—(for swiftly rose and fell
The Emotions—indescribable—
As Fortune's turns they thought to tell—
As varying chance they deemed befell—
While still—mind-moved—they struggled well!—)
Appeared they bent and bowed!—



The Russ Commander by thy hand,
Commander of that Valourous Band!—
Hath fallen—from where Gaul's legions stand—
Confusion wild is seen!—
The summons to surrender—So,
Answered the Frenchman to the Foe!—
With quenchless ardour keen!
The Tirailleurs ne'er pause—nor tire—
Ne'er ceased their well-directed fire—
The plunging chargers blench!
By miracle preserved—appeared
That Band—(for whom the Brave even feared,—)
By boundless gallantry endeared,
Thus,—to the all-gallant French!—


Russians!—from Borodino's Plain
Your glorious arms received no stain!—
Ye lost not Name nor Fame!
But glorified was your retreat—
By constancy that crowned Defeat—
Nor Yours was stain nor shame!—
O'erpowered—the Russian Host withstood,
In noble strength—still unsubdued—
The inroads of that despondent mood—
Which oft from failure springs!
Distemperature of thought which still
Oft riseth from the O'ershadowing Ill—
With darker, inward gloom to fill—


To teach untoward things!
All-conquering Thoughts—in conquered Breasts—
Exalted still the abasèd crests!—
Illumed the o'erclouded mien!
More—more—than Victory could have done—
Though she had blazed from Sun to Sun—
A sovereign—bournless—chainless One—
And fired—till worlds their bounds o'errun—
To Stars—all Space between!
In their high souls that Victory lives—
Which Heaven unto the Faithful gives!—
Who trust—and dare not sink!
Thus—They had conquered even Defeat!—
And staunchly stood, prepared to meet,
Whate'er might yet oppose and threat—
Secure they could not shrink!
Secure—they could not shrink at least!—
While strong and stronger towered each breast—
They should not—shall not—fail!
They may be crushed and ruined all!—
Yea!—they may bleed—and they may fall—
They still must trust—they should—they shall—
They should not—shall not—dream of thrall!—
Such thoughts ne'er lowered,—to grind and gall—
No faint Misgivings dared appal,
They knew they could not quail!

See Ségur, vol. i. page 409.