Walcheren Expedition

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Ye brave, enduring Englishmen,
  Who dash through fire and flood,
And spend with equal thoughtlessness
  Your money and your blood,
I sing of that black season,
  Which all true hearts deplore,
  When ye lay,
  Night and day,
Upon Walcheren's swampy shore.

'Twas in the summer's sunshine
  Your mighty host set sail,
With valour in each longing heart
  And vigour in the gale;
The Frenchman dropp'd his laughter,
  The Fleming's thoughts grew sore,
  As ye came
  In your fame
To the dark and swampy shore.

But foul delays encompass'd ye
  More dang'rous than the foe,
As Antwerp's town and its guarded fleet
  Too well for Britons know;
One spot alone ye conquer'd
  With hosts unknown of yore;
  And your might
  Day and night,
Lay still on the swampy shore.

In vain your dauntless mariners
  Mourn'd ev'ry moment lost,
In vain your soldiers threw their eyes
  In flame to the hostile coast;
The fire of gallant aspects
  Was doom'd to be no more,
  And your fame
  Sunk with shame
In the dark and the swampy shore.

Ye died not in the triumphing
  Of the battle-shaken flood,
Ye died not on the charging field
  In the mingle of brave blood;
But 'twas in wasting fevers
  Full three months and more,
  Britons born,
  Pierc'd with scorn,
Lay at rot on the swampy shore.

No ship came o'er to bring relief,
  No orders came to save;
But DEATH stood there and never stirr'd,
  Still counting for the grave.
They lay down, and they linger'd,
  And died with feelings sore,
  And the waves
  Pierc'd their graves
Thro' the dark and the swampy shore.

Oh England! Oh my Countrymen!
  Ye ne'er shall thrive again,
Till freed from Councils obstinate
  Of mercenary men.
So toll for the six thousand
  Whose miseries are o'er,
  Where the deep,
  To their sleep,
Bemoans on the swampy shore.

© James Henry Leigh Hunt