Peschiera

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Peschiera
by Arthur Hugh Clough

What voice did on my spirit fall,
Peschiera, when thy bridge I crost?
‘’Tis better to have fought and lost,
Than never to have fought at all.’

The tricolor, a trampled rag
Lies, dirt and dust; the lines I track
By sentry boxes yellow-black,
Lead up to no Italian flag.

I see the Croat soldier stand
Upon the grass of your redoubts;
The eagle with his black wings flouts
The breath and beauty of your land.

Yet not in vain, although in vain,
O’ men of Brescia, on the day
Of loss past hope, I heard you say
Your welcome to the noble pain.

You say, ‘Since so it is, good bye
Sweet life, high hope; but whatsoe’er
May be, or must, no tongue shall dare
To tell, “The Lombard feared to die!”’

You said (there shall be answer fit),
‘And if our children must obey,
They must; but thinking on this day
’Twill less debase them to submit.’

You said (Oh not in vain you said),
‘Haste, brothers, haste, while yet we may;
The hours ebb fast of this one day
When blood may yet be nobly shed.’

Ah! not for idle hatred, not
For honour, fame, nor self-applause,
But for the glory of the cause,
You did, what will not be forgot.

And though the stranger stand, ’tis true,
By force and fortune’s right he stands;
By fortune, which is in God’s hands,
And strength, which yet shall spring in you.

This voice did on my spirit fall,
Peschiera, when thy bridge I crost,
‘’Tis better to have fought and lost,
Than never to have fought at all.’

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.