Henry James Pye

(20 February 1745 – 11 August 1813 / London, England)

The Art Of War. Book V. - Poem by Henry James Pye

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Pallas, whose hand can through each devious road
Conduct your steps to Victory's bright abode,
Teach you success in every hour to find,
And for each season form the Hero's mind,
Shall now in verse the prudent art disclose,
To guard your peaceful quarter's calm repose.

When hoary Winter bids each freezing wind
Range o'er the regions free and unconfin'd,
When foe to Zephyr, Boreas' raging blast
Lays the rich field and smiling orchard waste,
No more the trees when leaves and fruitage grace,
But icicles and snow usurp their place,
When biting frosts the harden'd rivulet chain,
And the sad herds forsake the barren plain,
Then the cold Camp upon the mountain's brow
Shrinks as the cutting winds tempestuous blow;
Awhile the warriors to the season yield,
Stop their exploits, and quit the ice-bound field;
Though either side alike breathe martial fire,
From Winter's freezing powers they both retire;
Scatter'd in towns, from War they respite take,
And for warm roofs their canvas walls forsake.
The soldier train'd with hardy limbs to bear,
The rage of battle, and the force of War,
Should in the winter taste of quiet's joys,
For constant toil the strongest frame destroys.
Here warlike Art it's nicest care supplies,
To guard his sacred rest from quick surprise;
Ready and form'd for fight a numerous train
The insulting offers of the foe restrain,
O'er all the front the well-fenced posts extend,
And by their force the lengthen'd line defend;
Each narrow pass that Nature's hands have barr'd
From the bold foe must strong detachments guard;
Some leader fam'd, in whom the chief confides,
Protects the approach, and o'er the chain presides,
While round the swift dragoon and fleet hussar,
Prevent with watchful eyes each wile of War,
With constant care distress the harrass'd foes,
Hang o'er their march, and all their schemes disclose,
Report each fresh design, each movement new,
Distress their Camps, and baffle every view.

When each detail is settled in your breast
That prudence could foresee or skill suggest,
And all your cares and troubles seem as o'er,
One new contingency may give you more;
When cold Orion binds the whiten'd fields,
And o'er the flood a transient passage yields,
The wakeful chief her joys bids Quiet cease,
And Danger courts amidst the smiles of Peace.

'Tis not enough your host secure may lie,
It's discipline severe, it's spirit high,
You must with care replace the generous train
Who nobly perish'd on the ensanguin'd plain,
Conquest is bought with blood, and every shade
Whose corse on honor's field was bleeding laid,
Will a supply of dauntless hearts demand,
To assert the glory of the daring band;
Then to these prudent precepts bend your mind,
And succour firm in new-rais'd levies find.

As by the watchful fisher's wily hand
The river's silent inmates are trepann'd,
So the false lustre of deceitful gold
Lures the poor laborer from the farm or fold;
Ignorant of what excites contending kings,
Chance to the intrepid band his footsteps brings,
Where courage firm, and discipline severe,
Change to a soldier's fire a peasant's fear.

Success in War from numerous troops may flow,
Your force alone may check the timid foe.—
Of perfect limbs, and from a generous breed,
With careful glance select the martial steed,
From offer'd numbers cull'd with cautious hand,
Young, vigorous, docile, like your warrior band.

Let bounteous Ceres still with laughing eye,
Your crouded Camp with constant food supply,
The splendid arts of victory all are cross'd,
Unless more useful arts subsist your host.
This Camp, this People, by your motions sway'd,
Twice every day shall dire disease invade,
Whose force, if not allay'd by prudent care,
With cruel fangs shall thin the ranks of War;
Useless the sons of Galen find their skill,
Unless your plenteous stores abundance fill:
Should this important duty 'scape your mind,
Soon 'mid your fainting legions shall you find,
Drawn from the barren rocks that form her cave,
Her horrid pinions squalid Famine wave;
A thousand ills her fatal steps attend,
Seditious cries the ambient ether rend,
Weakness and Fear, and Misery's tainting breath,
Pallid Despair, inxorable Death;
Then 'mid the Camp where dying myriads groan,
Say will you fight deserted and alone?
Prevent the evil, and with careful eye,
Observe that plenteous marts your host supply,
So shall your arms amidst repose prepare
For future triumphs, and successful War.

While the bold chief, intent on new alarms,
With care arrays his levied force for arms,
Each generous leader now at ease reclines,
And 'midst his laurel wreaths the myrtle twines,
His faithful consort full of blushing charms
Forgets the pains of absence in his arms;
Ah happy hours! ah moments doubly dear!
Purchas'd by many a pang, and many a tear,
What joy an end of gushing grief to know,
Dried by the hand whose dangers made it flow!
To hear his glorious deeds with new delight,
Pride of the War, and honor of the fight,
To feel that heart which danger ne'er could move
Pant 'midst the charming agonies of Love!
With kisses sweet in amorous rapture press'd,
To stop that voice which steel'd the soldier's breast,
Rous'd him to gallant deeds with martial breath,
And taught the way to Victory, or death!
While on his faithful partner's breast reclin'd,
Rests the brave head to peaceful thoughts resign'd,
Pleas'd with his presence round him jocund move
The beauteous pledges of connubial love:
His hands victorious now endearing seize,
Or with their infant arms embrace his knees,
And burn to tread the thorny path that leads
To martial honors and immortal deeds:
A thousand little arts they smiling try,
While every motion charms a parent's eye,
That rears the buckler with a feeble hand,
This tries in vain to wield the shining brand,
Or lift the helmet, while their breasts aspire
To trace the glorious footsteps of their sire.

Thus tender Hymen knows with gentle power
On faithful hearts unnumber'd joys to shower,
When fond esteem in every look's express'd,
And mutual passion fires each feeling breast,
Joys to those trifling tribes of youth unknown,
Who pay their vows to Change's fickle throne,
Chaste is the bliss that fires the hero's heart,
And pure that love where weakness has no part:
He knows the bonds of softness to despise,
And swift to arms at Honor's mandate flies.

Amidst these joys that sense and duty guide,
Where healthful Rest, and Temperance preside,
To shameful sloth no wiles luxurious charm,
Relax his courage, and unnerve his arm,
Ready for War when Glory's call requires,
Stung with new rage, and warm'd by fiercer fires.
Before the Winter ends his slow career,
And opening flowrets paint the vernal year,
To posts advanced the eager Generals haste,
The scheme's projected, and the encampment traced,
The roads to march the assembling troops are plan'd
By skilful engineers with cautious hand,
While the slow work the impatient chief pursues,
And with strict eye the growing labor views;
Each various art with prudent arm prepares,
That asks his present or his future cares;
Sage Diffidence the mother of Success,
Bids him his thoughts to every scheme address,
Chases soft slumber from his closing eyes,
And to his toil a constant zeal supplies.
The foe, she cries, with ceaseless ardor view,
Mark what he does, and what he means to do,
His Camp in every part with spies surround,
Watch every motion, catch each trifling sound,
Be to your mind his every look display'd,
Learn his design, and even his thoughts pervade:
Spare not the dross that tempts mankind to sin,
The certain knowledge of his schemes to win.
With stranger eyes still prove your favorite plan,
And with severest care your actions scan.
Deem not yon hills whose summits high extend
From sudden rage your quarters can defend,
Nor the bold troops who guard yon river's brink
With shining arms a certain barrier think.
The monstrous Alps which seem'd with lengthen'd chain
A bulwark firm to Rome's superb domain,
Yield to Italia's plains a vain relief,
Scal'd by the ardor of the Punic chief:
In vain their summits to his march oppose
Cliffs rough with rocks, and white with endless snows,
Through undiscover'd paths he shapes his way,
Surprises, fights, and wins the glorious day.

Vendome depending on the mountain's guard,
Whose heights fair Lombardy thy frontier barr'd,
Saw brave Eugene by ways then unexplor'd,
With daring troops the rapid Adige ford,
Strike with undaunted speed the vigorous blow,
And free from Seine's command the exulting Po.

Those torrents mark!—when Winter's power they own,
And o'er their stream an icy bridge is thrown,
Sudden the adverse host with rapid course
May pass the channel and your quarters force,
While your disorder'd troops dispers'd by fright
Shall seek their safety in inglorious flight;
Thus shall one fatal moment veil in shame
Your former deeds, and blast your martial fame.

A quarter forced a thousand ills attend,
A thousand fears your baffled legions bend,
Your troops at once rebellious and dismay'd,
Your influence lost, your orders disobey'd,
Despair and grief to ardent zeal succeed,
In those that follow, and in those that lead,
Each sanguine hope by one sad check you lose,
And ruin's certain if the foe pursues.

Bournonville foil'd, yet in misfortune brave,
Pass'd with his troops the Rhine's majestic wave,
Turenne retreats before his numerous train,
Nor dares attempt the mountains of Lorrain:
Of art regardless, and of fortune sure,
Ere Winter's cold, the German too secure
His scatter'd forces o'er Alsatia spreads,
Nor heeds the danger hanging o'er their heads;
But while he thought the imperial bird might close
Her drowsy eyes secure from following foes,
Sudden Turenne (the opposing mountains cross'd)
O'er the wide champain pours the assembled host;
That day he gain'd by one important blow
An easy Victory o'er a scatter'd foe,
While the astonish'd Chief his host to save,
With speed repasses Rhine's tempestuous wave.

Even Winter's frosts shall aid your rapid course,
And hours of rest assist your daring force;
By care assembled, and by ardor led,
Against the foe dispers'd, your legions head,
By fear dismay'd, disorder'd by surprise,
Without a blow his ruin'd army flies.
To conduct sage her aid let speed unite,
Dispel his forces, and pursue his flight,
Examples drawn from every age unfold,
That favoring fortune still attends the bold.

So to the Saxon race the chief appear'd
O'er Stanislaus his favoring shield who rear'd,
When quitting laurels for the myrtle bough,
Augustus paid to love the tender vow.
While lull'd to ease by Venus' witching charms,
He left his glory for a mistress' arms,
His brow adorn'd with Luxury's soft crown,
Forgetting Poland, War, and fair renown;
With sudden force the Ammon of the north
Resistless pour'd his veteran legions forth,
Disturb'd with arms each Bacchanalian rite,
While Love and hireling legions take their flight,
And the sad sovereign sees his rival place
Another on that throne he us'd to grace.

So when the eagle, favorite bird of Jove,
Wings his bold flight the thundering clouds above,
And on the lessening earth beholds his prey
O'er the steep hills, or through the forests stray,
Swift to his death on soaring wing he flies,
And to his eyry bears the bleeding prize.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 27, 2010



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