But ye are Britons—are the sons of those,
Of that unconquer'd race, whose arms of yore,
In many a conflict from superior foes
The bloody wreaths of crimson conquest tore.
Think on the trophies Creci, Poitiers, gave,
Remember Agincourt's illustrious plain;
Remember Blenheim's field, when Danube's wave
Pour'd a red deluge to th'affrighted main.
Heaven frowns not on our cause—and shall the boast
Of impious myriads shake a Briton's soul?—
Rush to the field, and on yon savage host
The awful tempest of the battle roll.
By vengeance stung, and prodigal of life
Advance, nor fear death's universal doom;
Fame's guerdon theirs who fall amid the strife,
The sun of endless glory gilds their tomb.
You well have prov'd each dread extreme of war,
Have felt the ruthless god's terrific ire,
When you have chaced the timid foe afar,
Or ‘measur'd back your ground in faint retire.’
Ye know how few of those who bravely stand
A living bulwark to the croud behind,
And face with dauntless breasts the adverse band,
Have e'er in honor's field their breath resign'd.
But words are weak to paint the foul disgrace,
The scenes of horrid carnage that await
The trembling steps of that unmanly race
Who fly inglorious from the field of fate.
Nor fall they by the brave,—the dastard train
Who fear to meet the thunder of the fight,
Pursue incessant o'er th'ensanguin'd plain
Their weaker foes, and stop their breathless flight.
Ne'er o'er his tomb shall fame her trophy rear,
To him no choral strain the Pæan sounds,
Who sinks beneath the following coward's spear,
His back unseemly gash'd with shameful wounds.
Advance brave youths, a close compacted band,
To check the adverse battle's furious tide;
Now foot to foot in firm-wedged phalanx stand,
‘Now set the teeth, and stretch the nostrils wide.’
March boldly on to meet th'impetuous Gaul,
Pierce with resistless steel his threatening line:
Trust not inglorious to the distant ball,
Bid in his eyes the gleamy bayonet shine.
The white plume nodding o'er the helmed crest
Pour on his squadrons like a wintry flood,
And shocking, horse to horse and breast to breast,
Dye each avenging sword in hostile blood.
'Tis yours ye light arm'd foot, a scatter'd band,
On every side the harrass'd foe to tire,
Aim the destructive tube with skilful hand,
And thin his ranks by well-directed fire.

More verses by Henry James Pye