Martin Farquhar Tupper

(July 17, 1810 - November 1889 / London)

A Dirge For Wellington


A voice of lamentation
From the islands of the Sea!
Alas, thou sorrowing Nation,
Bereaved - alas for thee!
The wail as of a mother
Weeping for her son,-
When shall she bear another
Like that illustrious One?

O Britain, broken-hearted,
Bemoan the bitter day,-
Thy Hero is departed,
Thy Glory rent away:
Alas! our joys are made to cease,
Our praise of old is fled,
Though first in war, and first in peace,-
Our Wellington is dead!

Was he not both our torch of War,
And Learning's peaceful lamp,
Achilles in the battle-jar,
And Nestor in the camp?-
Our light is from us taken
To shine in other skies,
And we are left, forsaken
Of the valiant and the wise

How are the mighty scatter'd,
That have lost their iron lord!
The spear and shield are shatter'd,
The battle and the sword!
The Champion of all Europe's rights
Is gone to his long rest,-
The Hero of a hundred fights
With endless Peace is blest!

Arise, angelic keeper
That watch the waiting dead;
And turn, ye silent sleepers,
Upon your narrow bed!
Arise,- and to those shadowy bands
Make this great spirit known,
The Guardian mind of many lands,
The Saviour of his own!

Mournfully, with measured pace,
The sad procession brings
Our chieftain to the resting-place
Of heroes and of kings;
And mournfully the minute gun
Tolls out to earth and air
The groans of Britain, one by one,
The sobs of her despair.

Step by step, with pomp and plume,
And black funereal state,
In solemn progress to the tomb
They reach the sacred gate;
Ye trumpets, hold your bated breath,
Be still, ye muffled drums,
For to the hallow'd halls of Death
The conquering hero comes!

Yea! conquering still :- their leaden prison
(Through Him who died to save)
The dead shall burst, redeem'd and risen
Triumphant o'er the grave:
The dead,- yea, this our Chief; though not
By mortal might or power,
But by God's Spirit, in his lot
Shall stand at that dread hour.

Meekly with charitable gaze
His faults or foibles scan,-
For he might walk this earthly maze
Not more, nor less, than man;
Doubtless, he own'd to sins and wrongs
Like all beside that live,-
Yet unto us his good belongs,
His ill - may God forgive!

But stoutly too, with glad acclaim
Tell out his honest worth,-
There never lived a child of fame
More childlike on this earth!
Simple in heart, sincere in mind,
Just, resolute, and true,
Duty was all he strove to find,
And all he dared to do!

Duty, though Death were on the track,
Though scorn were in the way,
Duty, though pleasure beckoned back,
Or interest lured astray;
Duty, Great Chief! thy glorious name
Is link'd with Duty still,
Through civic strife, and martial fame,
Through good report and ill!

Oh, who shall worthily record
The trophies of his fame,
The wisdom of his lightest word,
The weight of his great name?
For kings and men of every clime
Right nobly vied to raise
His glory's monument sublime
With pinnacles of praise!

Remember him, thou City
Of perjured Sahib slain,
How prompt his heart to pity,
How glad to heal again;
Remember well his lightning eye,
False Scindiah, in that day
When myriads could not fight nor fly
The Victor of Assaye!

Sad Lusitania! lost and won
In adverse fortune's night,
Remember him, whose presence shone
Thine Arbiter of Right;
Remember him, thy conquering Chief
In red Vimeira's day,-
His gauntlet wiped thy tears of grief,
And swept thy foes away!

O rescued Spain, consider still
His glorious deeds for thee,-
The wonders of his forceful skill
That saved and set thee free!
Talavera! Salamanca!
Vittoria! - fated name,-
And scores beside sound far and wide
The echoes of his fame.

Of Fabian caution, lingering well
Before the leaguer'd fosse,
Let ridgy Torres Vedras tell
And storm-won Badajoz:
Of Julian vigour, swift to wreak
Full vengeance on the Gaul,
In the thunder, San Sebastian, speak
To Ciudad's echoing wall!

O thwarted France, in thy worst hour
The scourge and curse of Man,-
O fell incarnate lust of power,
Thou baffled Corsican,-
Yell out his praise, whose trophied life
Was crown'd by crushing
you,

And sear'd your hydra-heads of strife
In branding Waterloo!

Weep, grateful Prussia, well allied,
And thou, black Brunswick, weep!
And, Austria, swell this tribute tide
Of sorrow loud and deep:
All nations well avenged in fight,
All kingdoms of the world,
Mourn him, who still to help the Right
His battle flag unfurl'd.

Bewail, O land, thy patriot true,
The bulwark of thy state;
Clear to expound, and bold to do,
In all things he was Great:
Bewail, ye cliffs, that white and hoar
By castled Dover stand,-
Alas! that ye shall see no more
Our Nelson of the Land!

Ah, bitter day! I hear a groan
From Britain's heart of oak:
Forth from the altar and the throne
That voice anguish broke:
Alas, that he should perish
From the face of this dull earth,
And leave us but to cherish
The remembrance of his worth!

Full of honours, full of years,
Our Chief is dead and gone!
His epitaph a nation's tears,
As for a first-born son;
Though dead and gone,- yet shall he live!
Yea, live for earth, and heaven,-
By all that Man to Mind can give,
Or God to Soul hath given!

He lives, by trophies of the sword,
By triumphs of the pen,-
He lives, by noble deed and word
Within the hearts of men:
He is not dead, but sleepeth,-
Then why should Britain go,
As one that sorely weepeth
Uncomforted in woe?

With every earthly honour won,
And every praise achieved,
With every human duty done
His crown of light is weaved:
On Heaven's own archives, man may trust,
Not less than history's page,
His high reward is - With the Just
To live in every age!

Submitted: Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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