Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

Battle Of The Alma

Dark lowered the thunder-cloud of death
O'er Alma's height, while far beneath,
In deep and dread array,
Fair France, thy eagle-bannered host,
Her lion bands, Britannia's boast,
Strode on their fateful way.
They sweep the plain, they stem the flood,
Oh, God of battles, just and good,
Sustain, defend the right!
Sweet mercy shield the parting souls,
When high the tide of carnage rolls
Round Alma's bloody height.
Wild bursts the storm through sulphurous flash,
With thundering peal and deadly clash
Of swords. Through murderous hail
Of shot and shell that rend the air,
With levelled bayonets, stern they dare
The bristling heights to scale.
The mount they gain, the deadly steep,
And drive the foe with onward sweep;
Let Scotia's heart beat high,
For glory culled her fairest wreath
From her blue hills, and twined her heath
With flowers that never die.
Yet glory weeps and memory bleeds,
Though bright their high heroic deeds,
O'er many a hero low.
Brave dwellers of the mountain heath,
Old Scotia long shall mourn your death,
Though victory soothes her woe.
Fly, braggart Russ, for British steel
Has wrought a spell to make you feel
And fear the freeman's arm.
To make your serf-born courage wince;
Fly, bear along your baffled prince,
And shield him well from harm.
Dark Moloch of the barbarous north,
A world in arms thee summons forth
To answer at her bar.
Say, why must hecatombs of slain
Thy horrid altar heap in vain,
To glut thy lust of war?
So from a million bloody graves,
From lands that groan with myriad slaves,
The witnesses appear.
The widow's shriek, the orphan's wail,
The mother's moan thy soul assail,
And smite upon thy ear.
The thrones are set, thy plea is cast,
Earth's nations have thy sentence passed,
And this shall be for doom-
Banished to that lone ocean isle,
Where found armed Europe's great exile
A prison and a tomb.
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