None; but the moral's truth tells simpler so.—
As the ground was before, thus let it be;—
How that red rain hath made the harvest grow!
And is this all the world has gained by thee,
Thou first and last of Fields! king-making Victory?
And Harold stands upon this place of skulls,
The grave of France, the deadly Waterloo!
How in an hour the Power which gave annuls
Its gifts, transferring fame as fleeting too!—
In "pride of place" here last the Eagle flew,N1
- None; but the moral truth tells simpler so.—[MS.]
- [Stanzas xvii., xviii., were written after a visit to Waterloo. When Byron was in Brussels, a friend of his boyhood, Pryse Lockhart Gordon, called upon him and offered his services. He escorted him to the field of Waterloo, and received him at his house in the evening. Mrs. Gordon produced her album, and begged for an autograph. The next morning Byron copied into the album the two stanzas which he had written the day before. Lines 5-8 of the second stanza (xviii.) ran thus—
"Here his last flight the haughty Eagle flew,
Then tore with bloody beak the fatal plain,
Pierced with the shafts of banded nations through ..."
The autograph suggested an illustration to an artist, R. R. Reinagle (1775-1863), "a pencil-sketch of a spirited chained eagle, grasping the earth with his talons." Gordon showed the vignette to Byron, who wrote in reply, "Reinagle is a better poet and a better ornithologist than I am; eagles and
- —— and still must be.—[MS.]
- —— the fatal Waterloo.—[MS.]
- Here his last flight the haughty eagle flew.—[MS.]
Then bit with bloody beak the rent plain.—[MS. erased.]
Then tore with bloody beak ——.—[MS.]