Cicely Fox Smith
Peninsular Ballads: Prologue - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
This is the lot of the English; - in many a page it is written, -
To weep for a loved one that sleeps in a grave that is far o'er the wave;
Fighting far over the seas the perilous battles of Britain,
Winning her way thro' the years with the blood of her dear and her brave.
Land of a glory forgotten, - a ruin our children may pity, -
Tho' dead as thy Moorish invaders the fame of thy empire may be,
Still shall the names of thy mountains, of valley and river and city,
Whisper of honour and pride to an isle in the midst of the sea.
Not for thy gardens and vineyards, thy olives, thy pomegranates glowing,
Not for the gold of the sun, or seas like the blue of the sky,
Not for thy white-walled towns, or the scent of thy orange-groves blowing,
Quickens the blood in the pulses, glistens the tear in the eye.
No! for the fame of our forebears that hangs o'er the scenes where they perished,
Honour we greatly the places once loud with the roar of the fray,
Holding them dear to our hearts as the earth that our childhood has cherished,
Keeping the names of their victors still green with a garland of bay.
Shall not the names of our honour, the names that are sweet in the telling,
Speak to the hearts of the English, - for are they not truly our own?
Names that are bright on our banners, the roll of our victories swelling,
Names that are known to the English wherever those banners are blown.
Dear are ye, dear to us all, O fields of our fathers victorious,
Fights of the pass and the valley, the glacis, the trench, and the ford,
Names that are strange to our lips, yet part of our heritage glorious,
Bought for us out of the ages by purchase of blood and the sword.
This is the lot of the English; - tho' oceans from England may sunder,
Never to feel as a stranger, with nothing to hail as his own, -
Since there is not a land of the world but the bones of his kindred lie under,
Never a wind but upon it the fame of our fathers is blown.
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