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British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism 1793-1815, by Betty T. Bennet, Edited by Orianne Smith

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1813.3
National Discord
“W. A.”
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXXXIII (February, 1813), p. 159

If the Thracian Lyrist was gifted with skill
To humble the Tiger to crouch at his will,
Or the art of Timotheus had power to move
A Tyrant from rage into pity and love;

How blest, if some Bard should, with fervour, essay
The Demon of wild devastation to lay;
Inventing aggression, by calmness enrag'd,
In scenes of Smolensk and of Moskwa engag'd.[1]

But the Genius of bright intuition is fled;
And harmony past from the heart to the head;
No rapt inspiration now succours the brave!
No sounds of the lyre are effectual to save!

The reign is establish'd of Discord; delight
Exults in narration of siege and of fight;
Where losses confuse in the flames spreading-far,
And distresses in pageants and tumults of war.

From int'rests concordant, once friendship prevail'd,
When a nation has been quite unequal assail'd;
Three powers carry ruin through Russia's vast state,
Which mourns the memento of sovereign hate.

He points all the mischief with cannon and steel,
Whom Nature had never predestin'd to feel
Harmonic affection; but steep'd him in strife,
And gave him the trumpet, the drum, and the fife.


Notes

1. In June 1812 the French army advanced before the retreating armies of Russia to occupy Smolensk. In mid-August the French destroyed Smolensk and Barclay de Tally, General of the Russian Army, was replaced by General Michael Kutuzov. Kutuzov fought the French Army at the Battle of Borodino (September 7, 1812) on the banks of the Moscowa River. By September 14, 1812, the French had occupied Moscow and the city was burnt by the Russians. Napoleon, unable to bring the Russians to terms, began his retreat from Moscow on October 19. By early November severe weather set in and by December the retreat had become a wild, discordant flight from which only a few survived.

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September 2004

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