[Thanks to Dr Trudi Tate, Clare Hall, Cambridge University, for transcribing the following poem about the Battle of Alma in the Crimean War. — George P. Landow.]
THOUGH till now ungraced in story, scant although thy waters be,
Alma, roll those waters proudly, proudly roll them to the sea.
Yesterday, unnamed, unhonored, but to wandering Tartar known,
Now thou art a voice forever, to the world’s four corners blown.
In two nations’ annals graven, thou art now a deathless name,
And a star forever shining in their firmament of fame.
Many a great and ancient river, crowned with city, tower, and shrine,
Little streamlet, knows no magic, boasts no potency, like thine;
Cannot shed the light thou sheddest around many a living head,
Cannot lend the light thou lendest to the memories of the dead.
Yea, nor all unsoothed their sorrow, who can, proudly mourning, say,
When the first strong burst of anguish shall have wept itself away:—
‘He has passed from us, the loved one; but he sleeps, with them that died
By the Alma, at the winning of that terrible hillside.’
Yes, and in the days far onward, when we all are cold as those,
Who beneath thy vines and willows on their hero-beds repose,
Thou on England’s banners blazoned with the famous fields of old,
Shalt, where other fields are winning, wave above the brave and bold:
And our sons unborn shall nerve them for some great deed to be done,
By that twentieth of September, when the Alma’s heights were won.
O thou river! dear forever to the gallant, to the free,
Alma, roll thy waters proudly, proudly roll them to the sea.
Trench, Richard Chenevix . Alma: And Other Poems. London: John Parker and Son, 1855. 7-9.
24 June 2014