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

June 27

The Battle of Pultowa

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

  • In this battle, fought June 27th, 1709, the Russians under Peter the Great defeated the Swedes under Charles XII. This battle marks the fall of the Swedish power and the rise of that of Russia.

  • ON Vorska’s glittering waves

    The morning sunbeams play;

    Pultowa’s walls are throng’d

    With eager multitudes;

    Athwart the dusty vale

    They strain their aching eyes,

    Where to the fight moves on

    The Conqueror Charles, the iron-hearted Swede.

    Him Famine hath not tamed,

    The tamer of the brave;

    Him Winter hath not quell’d;

    When man by man his veteran troops sunk down,

    Frozen to their endless sleep,

    He held undaunted on

    Him Pain hath not subdued;

    What though he mounts not now

    The fiery steed of war?

    Borne on a litter to the field he goes.

    Go, iron-hearted King!

    Full of thy former fame—

    Think how the humbled Dane

    Crouch’d underneath thy sword;

    Think how the wretched Pole

    Resign’d his conquer’d crown;

    Go, iron-hearted King!

    Let Narva’s glory swell thy haughty breast,—

    The death-day of thy glory, Charles, hath dawn’d!

    Proud Swede, the Sun hath risen

    That on thy shame shall set!

    Now, Patkul, may thine injured spirit rest!

    For over that relentless Swede

    Ruin hath raised his unrelenting arm;

    For ere the night descends,

    His veteran host destroyed,

    His laurels blasted to revive no more,

    He flies before the Muscovite.

    Impatiently that haughty heart must bear

    Long years of hope deceived;

    Long years of idleness

    That sleepless soul must brook.

    Now, Patkul, may thine injured spirit rest!

    To him who suffers in an honest cause

    No death is ignominious; not on thee,

    But upon Charles, the cruel, the unjust,

    Not upon thee,—on him

    The ineffaceable reproach is fix’d,

    The infamy abides.

    Now, Patkul, may thine injured spirit rest.