Dante Gabriel Rossetti

(12 May 1828 – 9 April 1882 / London / England)

Wellington's Funeral - Poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

18th November 1852
“VICTORY!”
So once more the cry must be.
Duteous mourning we fulfil
In God's name; but by God's will,
Doubt not, the last word is still
“Victory!”
Funeral,
In the music round this pall,
Solemn grief yields earth to earth;
But what tones of solemn mirth
In the pageant of new birth
Rise and fall?
For indeed,
If our eyes were openèd,
Who shall say what escort floats
Here, which breath nor gleam denotes,—
Fiery horses, chariots
Fire-footed?
Trumpeter,
Even thy call he may not hear;
Long-known voice for ever past,
Till with one more trumpet-blast
God's assuring word at last
Reach his ear.
Multitude,
Hold your breath in reverent mood:
For while earth's whole kindred stand
Mute even thus on either hand,
This soul's labour shall be scann'd
And found good.
Cherubim,
Lift ye not even now your hymn?
Lo! once lent for human lack,
Michael's sword is rendered back.
Thrills not now the starry track,
Seraphim?
Gabriel,
Since the gift of thine “All hail!”
Out of Heaven no time hath brought
Gift with fuller blessing fraught
Than the peace which this man wrought
Passing well.
Be no word
Raised of bloodshed Christ-abhorr'd.
Say: “'Twas thus in His decrees
Who Himself, the Prince of Peace,
For His harvest's high increase
Sent a sword.”
Veterans,
He by whom the neck of France
Then was given unto your heel,
Timely sought, may lend as well
To your sons his terrible
Countenance.
Waterloo!
As the last grave must renew,
Ere fresh death, the banshee-strain,—
So methinks upon thy plain
Falls some presage in the rain,
In the dew.
And O thou,
Watching, with an exile's brow
Unappeased, o'er death's dumb flood:—
Lo! the saving strength of God
In some new heart's English blood
Slumbers now.
Emperor,
Is this all thy work was for?—
Thus to see thy self-sought aim,
Yea thy titles, yea thy name,
In another's shame, to shame
Bandied o'er?
Thy great work is but begun.
With quick seed his end is rife
Whose long tale of conquering strife
Shows no triumph like his life
Lost and won.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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