Three gaudy standards flout the pale blue skies;
The shouts are France, Spain, Albion, Victory!
The Foe, the Victim, and the fond Ally
That fights for all, but ever fights in vain,
Are met—as if at home they could not die—
To feed the crow on Talavera's plain,
And fertilise the field that each pretends to gain.
- [Compare Macbeth, act i. sc. 2, line 51—
"Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky."]
- [In a letter to Colonel Malcolm, December 3, 1809, the Duke admits that the spoils of conquest were of a moral rather than of a material kind. "The battle of Talavera was certainly the hardest fought of modern days.... It is lamentable that, owing to the miserable inefficiency of the Spaniards,... the glory of the action is the only benefit which we have derived from it.... I have in hand a most difficult task.... In such circumstances one may fail, but it would be dishonourable to shrink from the task."—Wellington Dispatches, 1844, ill. 621.]
There shall they rot—while rhymers tell the fools
How honour decks the turf that wraps their clay!
- Two lines of Collins' Ode, "How sleep the brave," etc., have been compressed into one—
"There Honour comes a pilgrim grey,
To bless the turf that wraps their clay."
- But Reason's elf in these beholds ——.—[D.]