587. Battle Song

Ebenezer Elliott. 1781-1849

DAY, like our souls, is fiercely dark;
        What then? 'Tis day!
We sleep no more; the cock crows--hark!
        To arms! away!
They come! they come! the knell is rung
        Of us or them;
Wide o'er their march the pomp is flung
        Of gold and gem.
What collar'd hound of lawless sway,
        To famine dear--
What pension'd slave of Attila,
        Leads in the rear?
Come they from Scythian wilds afar,
        Our blood to spill?
Wear they the livery of the Czar?
        They do his will.
Nor tassell'd silk, nor epaulet,
        Nor plume, nor torse--
No splendour gilds, all sternly met,
        Our foot and horse.
But, dark and still, we inly glow,
        Condensed in ire!
Strike, tawdry slaves, and ye shall know
        Our gloom is fire.
In vain your pomp, ye evil powers,
        Insults the land;
Wrongs, vengeance, and the Cause are ours,
        And God's right hand!
Madmen! they trample into snakes
        The wormy clod!
Like fire, beneath their feet awakes
        The sword of God!
Behind, before, above, below,
        They rouse the brave;
Where'er they go, they make a foe,
        Or find a grave.

The Oxford Book of English Verse, HTML edition