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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron 1809–92

Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington


BURY the Great Duke

With an empire’s lamentation,

Let us bury the Great Duke

To the noise of the mourning of a mighty nation,

Mourning when their leaders fall,

Warriors carry the warrior’s pall,

And sorrow darkens hamlet and hall.

Where shall we lay the man whom we deplore?

Here, in streaming London’s central roar.

Let the sound of those he wrought for,

And the feet of those he fought for,

Echo round his bones for evermore.

Lead out the pageant: sad and slow,

As fits an universal woe,

Let the long long procession go,

And let the sorrowing crowd about it grow,

And let the mournful martial music blow;

The last great Englishman is low.

Mourn, for to us he seems the last,

Remembering all his greatness in the Past.

No more in soldier fashion will he greet

With lifted hand the gazer in the street.

O friends, our chief state-oracle is mute:

Mourn for the man of long-enduring blood,

The statesman-warrior, moderate, resolute,

Whole in himself, a common good.

Mourn for the man of amplest influence,

Yet clearest of ambitious crime,

Our greatest yet with least pretence,

Great in council and great in war,

Foremost captain of his time,

Rich in saving common-sense,

And, as the greatest only are,

In his simplicity sublime.

O good gray head which all men knew,

O voice from which their omens all men drew,

O iron nerve to true occasion true,

O fall’n at length that tower of strength

Which stood four-square to all the winds that blew!

Such was he whom we deplore.

The long self-sacrifice of life is o’er.

The great World-victor’s victor will be seen no more.

All is over and done:

Render thanks to the Giver,

England, for thy son.

Let the bell be toll’d.

Render thanks to the Giver,

And render him to the mould.

Under the cross of gold

That shines over city and river,

There he shall rest for ever

Among the wise and the bold.

Let the bell be toll’d:

And a reverent people behold

The towering car, the sable steeds:

Bright let it be with its blazon’d deeds,

Dark in its funeral fold.

Let the bell be toll’d:

And a deeper knell in the heart be knoll’d;

And the sound of the sorrowing anthem roll’d

Thro’ the dome of the golden cross;

And the volleying cannon thunder his loss;

He knew their voices of old.

For many a time in many a clime

His captain’s-ear has heard them boom

Bellowing victory, bellowing doom:

When he with those deep voices wrought,

Guarding realms and kings from shame;

With those deep voices our dead captain taught

The tyrant, and asserts his claim

In that dread sound to the great name,

Which he has worn so pure of blame,

In praise and in dispraise the same,

A man of well-attemper’d frame.

O civic muse, to such a name,

To such a name for ages long,

To such a name,

Preserve a broad approach of fame,

And ever-echoing avenues of song.

Who is he that cometh, like an honor’d guest,

With banner and with music, with soldier and with priest,

With a nation weeping, and breaking on my rest?

Mighty Seaman, this is he

Was great by land as thou by sea.

Thine island loves thee well, thou famous man,

The greatest sailor since our world began.

Now, to the roll of muffled drums,

To thee the greatest soldier comes;

For this is he

Was great by land as thou by sea;

His foes were thine; he kept us free;

O give him welcome, this is he

Worthy of our gorgeous rites,

And worthy to be laid by thee;

For this is England’s greatest son,

He that gain’d a hundred fights,

Nor ever lost an English gun;

This is he that far away

Against the myriads of Assaye

Clash’d with his fiery few and won;

And underneath another sun,

Warring on a later day,

Round affrighted Lisbon drew

The treble works, the vast designs

Of his labor’d rampart lines,

Where he greatly stood at bay,

Whence he issued forth anew,

And ever great and greater grew,

Beating from the wasted vines

Back to France her banded swarms,

Back to France with countless blows,

Till o’er the hills her eagles flew

Beyond the Pyrenean pines,

Follow’d up in valley and glen

With blare of bugle, clamor of men,

Roll of cannon and clash of arms,

And England pouring on her foes.

Such a war had such a close.

Again their ravening eagle rose

In anger, wheel’d on Europe-shadowing wings,

And barking for the thrones of kings;

Till one that sought but Duty’s iron crown

On that loud sabbath shook the spoiler down;

A day of onsets of despair!

Dash’d on every rocky square

Their surging charges foam’d themselves away;

Last, the Prussian trumpet blew;

Thro’ the long-tormented air

Heaven flash’d a sudden jubilant ray,

And down we swept and charged and over-threw.

So great a soldier taught us there,

What long-enduring hearts could do

In that world-earthquake, Waterloo!

Mighty Seaman, tender and true,

And pure as he from taint of craven guile,

O saviour of the silver-coasted isle,

O shaker of the Baltic and the Nile,

If aught of things that here befall

Touch a spirit among things divine,

If love of country move thee there at all,

Be glad, because his bones are laid by thine!

And thro’ the centuries let a people’s voice

In full acclaim,

A people’s voice,

The proof and echo of all human fame,

A people’s voice, when they rejoice

At civic revel and pomp and game,

Attest their great commander’s claim

With honor, honor, honor, honor to him,

Eternal honor to his name.

A people’s voice! we are a people yet.

Tho’ all men else their nobler dreams forget,

Confus’d by brainless mobs and lawless Powers;

Thank Him who isl’d us here, and roughly set

His Briton in blown seas and storming showers,

We have a voice, with which to pay the debt

Of boundless love and reverence and regret

To those great men who fought, and kept it ours.

And keep it ours, O God, from brute control;

O Statesmen, guard us, guard the eye, the soul

Of Europe, keep our noble England whole,

And save the one true seed of freedom sown

Betwixt a people and their ancient throne,

That sober freedom out of which there springs

Our loyal passion for our temperate kings;

For, saving that, ye help to save mankind

Till public wrong be crumbled into dust,

And drill the raw world for the march of mind,

Till crowds at length be sane and crowns be just.

But wink no more in slothful overtrust.

Remember him who led your hosts;

He bade you guard the sacred coasts.

Your cannons moulder on the seaward wall;

His voice is silent in your council-hall

For ever; and whatever tempests lour

For ever silent; even if they broke

In thunder, silent; yet remember all

He spoke among you, and the Man who spoke;

Who never sold the truth to serve the hour,

Nor palter’d with Eternal God for power;

Who let the turbid streams of rumor flow

Thro’ either babbling world of high and low;

Whose life was work, whose language rife

With rugged maxims hewn from life;

Who never spoke against a foe;

Whose eighty winters freeze with one rebuke

All great self-seekers trampling on the right:

Truth-teller was our England’s Alfred nam’d;

Truth-lover was our English Duke;

Whatever record leap to light

He never shall be sham’d.

Lo, the leader in these glorious wars

Now to glorious burial slowly borne,

Follow’d by the brave of other lands,

He, on whom from both her open hands

Lavish Honor shower’d all her stars,

And affluent Fortune emptied all her horn.

Yea, let all good things await

Him who cares not to be great,

But as he saves or serves the state.

Not once or twice in our rough island-story,

The path of duty was the way to glory:

He that walks it, only thirsting

For the right, and learns to deaden

Love of self, before his journey closes,

He shall find the stubborn thistle bursting

Into glossy purples, which outredden

All voluptuous garden-roses.

Not once or twice in our fair island-story,

The path of duty was the way to glory:

He, that ever following her commands,

On with toil of heart and knees and hands,

Thro’ the long gorge to the far light has won

His path upward, and prevail’d,

Shall find the toppling crags of Duty scal’d

Are close upon the shining table-lands

To which our God Himself is moon and sun.

Such was he: his work is done.

But while the races of mankind endure,

Let his great example stand

Colossal, seen of every land,

And keep the soldier firm, the statesman pure:

Till in all lands and thro’ all human story

The path of duty be the way to glory:

And let the land whose hearths he sav’d from shame

For many and many an age proclaim

At civic revel and pomp and game,

And when the long-illumin’d cities flame,

Their ever-loyal iron leader’s fame,

With honor, honor, honor, honor to him,

Eternal honor to his name.

Peace, his triumph will be sung

By some yet unmoulded tongue

Far on in summers that we shall not see:

Peace, it is a day of pain

For one about whose patriarchal knee

Late the little children clung:

O peace, it is a day of pain

For one, upon whose hand and heart and brain

Once the weight and fate of Europe hung.

Ours the pain, be his the gain!

More than is of man’s degree

Must be with us, watching here

At this, our great solemnity.

Whom we see not we revere;

We revere, and we refrain

From talk of battles loud and vain,

And brawling memories all too free

For such a wise humility

As befits a solemn fane:

We revere, and while we hear

The tides of Music’s golden sea

Setting toward eternity,

Uplifted high in heart and hope are we,

Until we doubt not that for one so true

There must be other nobler work to do

Than when he fought at Waterloo,

And victor he must ever be.

For tho’ the Giant Ages heave the hill

And break the shore, and evermore

Make and break, and work their will;

Tho’ world on world in myriad myriads roll

Round us, each with different powers,

And other forms of life than ours,

What know we greater than the soul?

On God and Godlike men we build our trust.

Hush, the Dead March wails in the people’s ears:

The dark crowd moves, and there are sobs and tears:

The black earth yawns: the mortal disappears;

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust;

He is gone who seem’d so great.—

Gone; but nothing can bereave him

Of the force he made his own

Being here, and we believe him

Something far advanced in State,

And that he wears a truer crown

Than any wreath that man can weave him.

Speak no more of his renown,

Lay your earthly fancies down,

And in the vast cathedral leave him,

God accept him, Christ receive him.