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James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

August 21

Inscription for a Monument at Vimeiro

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

  • A town in Portugal. Here, on August 21, 1808, the British, under Wellington, defeated the French under Junot.

  • THIS is Vimeiro; yonder stream, which flows

    Westward through heathery highlands to the sea,

    Is called Maceira, till of late a name,

    Save to the dwellers of this peaceful vale,

    Known only to the coasting mariner;

    Now in the bloody page of war inscribed.

    When to the aid of injured Portugal

    Struggling against the intolerable yoke

    Of treacherous France, England her old ally,

    Long tried and always faithful found, went forth,

    The embattled hosts, in equal strength arrayed

    And equal discipline, encountered here.

    Junot, the mock Abrantes, led the French,

    And confident of skill so oft approved,

    And vaunting many a victory, advanced

    Against an untried foe. But when the ranks

    Met in the shock of battle, man to man,

    And bayonet to bayonet opposed,

    The flower of France, cut down along their line,

    Fell like ripe grass before the mower’s scythe;

    For the strong arm and rightful cause prevailed.

    That day delivered Lisbon from the yoke,

    And babes were taught to bless Sir Arthur’s name.