Thrice, at the huts of Fontenoy, the English column failed,
And twice the lines of Saint Antoine the Dutch in vain assailed;
For town and slope were filled with fort and flanking battery,
And well they swept the English ranks and Dutch auxiliary.
As vainly, through De Barri's wood, the British soldiers burst,
The French artillery drove them back, diminished, and dispersed.
The bloody Duke of Cumberland beheld with anxious eye,
And ordered up his last reserve, his latest chance to try,
On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, how fast his generals ride!
And mustering come his chosen troops, like clouds at eventide.
Six thousand English veterans in stately column tread;
Their cannon blaze in front and flank, Lord Hay is at their head;
Steady they step a-down the slope-steady they climb the hill;
Steady they load-steady they fire, moving right onward still,
Betwixt the wood and Fontenoy, as through a furnace blast,
Through rampart, trench, and palisade, and bullets showering fast;
And on the open plain above they rose and kept their course,
With ready fire and grim resolve, that mocked at hostile force:
Past Fontenoy, past Fontenoy, while thinner grew their ranks-
They break, as broke the Zuyder Zee through Holland's ocean banks.
More idly than the summer flies, French tirailleurs rush round;
As stubble to the lava tide, French squadrons strew the ground;
Bomb-shell and grape and round-shot tore, still on they marched and fired-
Fast from each volley grenadier and voltigeur retired.
'Push on, my household cavalry! ' King Louis madly cried:
To death they rush, but rude their shock-not unavenged they died.
On through the camp the column trod-King Louis turns his rein:
'Not yet, my liege,' Saxe interposed, 'the Irish troops remain.'
And Fontenoy, famed Fontenoy, had been a Waterloo
Were not these exiles ready then, fresh, vehement, and true.
'Lord Clare,' he says, 'you have your wish; there are your Saxon foes! '
The Marshal almost smiles to see, so furiously he goes!
How fierce the look these exiles wear, who're wont to be so gay,
The treasured wrongs of fifty years are in their hearts to-day-
The treaty broken, ere the ink wherewith 'twas writ could dry,
Their plundered homes, their ruined shrines, their women's parting cry,
Their priesthood hunted down like wolves, their country overthrown-
Each looks as if revenge for all were staked on him alone
On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, nor ever yet elsewhere,
Rushed on to fight a nobler band than these proud exiles were.
O'Brien's voice is hoarse with joy, as, halting, he commands
'Fix bay'nets! -charge! ' Like mountain storm, rush on these fiery bands!
Thin is the English column now, and faint their volleys grow,
Yet, must'ring all the strength they have, they make a gallant show.
They dress their ranks upon the hill to face that battle-wind-
Their bayonets the breakers' foam; like rocks, the men behind!
One volley crashes from their line, when, through the surging smoke,
With empty guns clutched in their hands, the headlong Irish broke.
On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, hark to that fierce huzza!
'Revenge, remember Limerick! dash down the Sacsanach! '
Like lions leaping at a fold when mad with hunger's pang,
Right up against the English line the Irish exiles sprang:
Bright was their steel, 'tis bloody now, their guns are filled with gore;
Through shattered ranks and severed files the trampled flags they tore;
The English strove with desperate strength, paused, rallied, staggered, fled-
The green hill-side is matted close with dying and with dead.
Across the plain, and far away, passed on that hideous wrack,
While cavalier and fantassin dash in upon their track.
On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, like eagles in the sun,
With bloody plumes, the Irish stand-the field is fought and won!
Thomas Davis's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Fontenoy by Thomas Davis )
- In Living Memory (11-22-63), John F. McCullagh
- Music, Fatima Nusairat
- what swanky sap is this?, Mandolyn ...
- Natural, David Chap Bottoms
- I end poem, hasmukh amathalal
- here's my armadillo, now get me a pillow.., Mandolyn ...
- A, Vera Sidhwa
- With her ability, hasmukh amathalal
- Inhuman way, hasmukh amathalal
- THERE IS…, michael walkerjohn
Poem of the Day
- 04 Tongues Made Of Glass, Shaun Shane
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Farewell Love and All Thy Laws Forever, Sir Thomas Wyatt
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- And Death Shall Have No Dominion, Dylan Thomas
- A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
William Carlos Williams
(17 September 1883 – 4 March 1963)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
- Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)