Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON HIS MAJESTY'S CONQUESTS IN IRELAND, by THOMAS SHADWELL

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ON HIS MAJESTY'S CONQUESTS IN IRELAND, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: How great a transport is a brave man in
Last Line: And that shall crown your arms, and they your love.
Subject(s): Army - Great Britain; Protestantism; Soldiers; Victory; War; William Iii, King Of England (1650-1702)

How great a transport is a brave man in,
When echoing trumpets bid the fight begin?
With joy, the list'ning warrior hears them sound,
And rears himself, all ravish'd, from the ground:
He grasps his sword, and lifts his pond'rous shield,
And big with joy, flies to the fatal field:
The God of War his heated breast inspires,
And his glad soul swells to receive the fires:
Already, he descries the distant plain,
Already seems to view the horrid scene,
Hear clashing spears, and groans of dying men.
Such was our monarch's transport at the Boyne:
There, Nassau, all the work was Heaven's, and thine.
Thyself the foremost, like the leading god,
Thy soldiers gladly follow'd thro' the flood;
Bending the waves beneath them with their tread,
They rais'd a tempest, tho' the winds were laid.
Each army, like a well-appointed fleet,
Cut thro' the rapid streams, and midway met;
Whilst from both shores the thund'ring ordnance speaks,
In louder sounds, than those of brazen beaks.
All elements, fire, water, earth and air,
Join in the fight, and mingle in the war.
Clouds of black smoke the face of Heav'n obscure,
The earth is shook, and the dash'd waters roar;
Hundreds are swallowed up, the furious tide,
With a strong current, rowls away the dead.
Already they have shot the gulf of death,
And need no wastage over lakes beneath;
Fate stretch'd himself, and both the banks bestride,
Fixing a deadly foot on either side,
Whilst underneath his arch the river flow'd,
Whose waters rose up to him, swell'd with blood;
By thousand differing ways, a thousand fall,
See death in all its forms, and dire in all.
The stately youth, that stood erect but now,
Struck by the mortal dart, are levelled low;
Whole heads and arms are lopt, the shivering spear
Strikes its sharp splinters thro' the wounded air;
All instruments of death the fates employ,
Whom the swords spare, the waters do destroy.
From dying chiefs the river gains a fame,
But Schomberg gives it an immortal name:
Bred up in camps, inur'd to horrid wars,
Loaden with fame and honour, as with years;
Brave as he liv'd, the good old general fell,
And his great master did revenge him well.
O! had thy mighty shade been by t' have seen
What troops of ghosts he sent to wait on thine,
Thy thankful Genius would his steps attend,
The best of masters, and the bravest friend;
To him thy art of conquering would bequeath,
Who fought to make thee famous in thy death:
For whilst the waters of the Boyne shall flow,
Succeeding ages shall remember you.

Soldiers and chiefs without distinction drop,
Only the king, stood as immortal up;
Around thy head a thousand deaths did fly,
Spent in the air; the boldest destiny
Durst only touch thee in its passage by.
Thy stronger Genius did the stroke decline,
Fate had the power of ev'ry life but thine.
Heroes on either side rush dauntless on;
The day is vanish'd ere the battle's done.
Groans of fall'n soldiers mount up to the skies,
Compassionate Echo's answer to their cries.
Whole Heav'ns concern'd, as 'twere itself in fight,
And diseased Nature sickens at the sight;
Nought stops the merc'less victor in his course,
Strongly he urges on th' impetuous horse,
And bears down all with a resistless force:
So swiftly does he drive the flying steed,
That victory can scarce keep equal speed.
Heaven looks with pity on the mighty dead,
And griev'd to see so many thousands bleed,
Spreads the thick veil of night, to keep them hid.
The sun went down with an unwonted red;
Bloody he lookt, as if himself had bled.
He seem'd to fall in the same famous stream;
Our Nassau fought, and seem'd to fall by him.
Those very waters where the god lay drown'd,
Our greater hero past and went beyond.
The heavens withdraw their lustre, and their fires
And day itself, the last of all, expires.
Night, horror, and confusion, fill the plain,
Darkness and death, shut in the gloomy scene.

Winds waft the dreadful tidings round their coast;
Aloud they tell them how their isle is lost;
Bid them take wings, and fly in haste away,
The conqeror comes on, as swift as they.
Fierce, and resistless, through the land he past;
His fame, and he seem'd to make equal haste.
At his approach th'affrighted realm is shook,
The chiefest cities yield without a stroke.
To the proud walls of Limrick, siege he lays,
Which nought but winter had the power to raise.
The gathering clouds do warn him to be gone,
And timely shew the tempest drawing on.
His orders for a brave retreat are given,
The pious hero only yields to Heaven.
So Tyre stopt Alexander's eager haste;
Withstood him for a while, tho' won at last.
Now he returns from the half-vanquished isle;
And seeks in foreign camps for nobler toil.
He leaves his army to his general's care,
And shews the ways, they must pursue the war.
With the vast help of the dread Nassau's name,
His gallant chiefs purchase their share of fame.
They fought secure of honour, and success;
The cause was Heavens, and the army his.
Conquest is easier made, when once begun;
Like high swoln waters, when the sluice is drawn,
The torrent from afar comes rowling on.

To distant realms his conquering arms he bears,
And hostile lands are made the seat of wars.
On him, and us these blessings are bestow'd,
Peace flourishes at home, and war abroad.
Disdainful princes are compell'd to bow;
And haughty France begins to feel us now.
With powers unequal, they a war maintain,
Compelled already to resign the main.
The greatest navy they could ever boast,
The work of thirty years, one conflict lost.
Both fleets encountred with impetuous shocks,
Resounding as the waves, that dash the rocks.
The cannon roar'd as loud as did the seas,
And fire, and smoke rowl'd o'er the ocean's face,
Some sunk, some scatter'd through the wat'ry field,
And some from farther flight disabl'd yield.
Once more, we're sovereign masters of the sea,
And have our passage to invasion free.
On the proud foe, we may our armies pour,
Resistless as the seas, that wash their shore.
Again, we may recover empire there:
England can do it, and its monarch dare.
'Tis he must pull the growing tyrant down;
'Tis he will lead the British armies on.
Go all you gallant youths, your arms prepare,
Go with your royal leader to the war.
Yours is the right, with conquest make your claim,
And raise at once, your fortunes and your fame.
None but old men confin'd within our isles,
And tender maids, unfit for mighty toils.
Albion unpeopled, need not fear surprise,
Heaven has created it a guard of seas.
The aged sires to altars shall repair,
And with a pious force, win heaven by prayer.
The sighing virgins shall your absence mourn,
And every beauty beg your safe return
With vows and tears, assenting heaven shall move,
And that shall crown your arms, and they your love.

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