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Sobraon now presents itself to view,
Unveils these murderous spectacles anew,
Bedews the earth with streams of blood again,
And strews fresh corses on the battle plain.
On one hand traverse we the British camp,
Whilst gentle Cynthia lends her silent lamp;
We find them with access of force relieved,
Proud of the triumphs recently achieved,
Fresh from repose, confiding in their arms,
Devoid of care, and free from all alarms.
On th’ other hand, the Sikh defences lie,
Impenetrable to th' unpractised eye;
With double batteries ranged semicircular,
With triple line of ramparts perpendicular,
Redoubts, fascines, epaulements inaccessible,
And all that science could account invincible.
But ere we end our weary round,
Ere yet the cock-crow gives us intimation
Of smiling dawn,
We hear the bugle's shrilly sound,
On the still night air borne,
And see the camp astir with preparation.
Ere the ruddy streaks of light
Made the East horizon bright;
Whilst Nature still lay hushed in sleep,
And silence brooded on the deep;
Whilst yet the Sutlej, like a peaceful child,
Lay gently slumb'ring in his grandeur wild;
Ere the birds of
Trimmed their radiant plumes anew,
Ere the tiger sought his lair,
Or morning breezes fanned the air,
The troops were formed in field array,
And moved to seek the fatal fray.
Thus man with deadly hate was rife,
But Nature strove to hide his strife;
The glorious sun looked not upon that day
With his seed-quick’ning, heat-engend'ring ray,
To all living,
But turned his golden face away;
The silvery gliding Sutlej
Mourned the coming woes
Of the land thro’ which it flows,
With fertilizing stream;
And such an exhalation did upraise
As cast upon the two contending hosts
A vapour black and dense; in dusky mist
Veiled them completely from each other's vie
'Twas such a mist as might conceal the guilt
Of our first Parents, when to crime they fell
From lofty, lovely innocence; a meet
Image and emblem of that gloomy cloud, -
That cloud which settles dark and dim as night
Over the temple of the thoughts, so bright
And so unsullied once,—the bitter smart,
Which as a scorpion's sting pervades the heart,
When from a calm and lovely peace,
The gift of God's approving grace,
Base passions in the captive soul find room,
And hurl it headlong to a hellish doom.
At length the vapour like a curtain rose,
And shewed each army their advancing foes;
And then again they shrouded lay in smoke.
From the booming cannons' jaws
Flashes in fierce splendour broke,
And when some well-directed aim
With its fatal missive came,
It seemed to roar, in fearful fun,
To see the mischief it had done.
The thunder of the ordnance
Resounded in the mighty combat,
Reverberated through the Sutlej vale.
There were seen Sikh chiefs
Standing on the very cannon,
And see the British flag uprises
On the summit of the ramparts;
There is dashing-
And here the Ghoorkhas, with their sabre knives,
Are rushing onward, reckless of their lives;
There falls a foe,
Hurried to the shades below. Thus at the last the Sikh entrenchments gained, A close and terrible attack remained.
See the Akalees fiercely are raging in fight,
See them bathing in red blood their scimitars bright,
See them hurl from their finger the murderous ring,
Surpassing in swiftness the proud eagle's wing.
-But why extend the mournful tale?
Their manful efforts nothing could avail;
All their defences lost on every side,
Borne down directly by the sweeping tide.
There Hera Singh yields up his parting breath,
The brave Sham Singh devotes himself to death,
And here again Molariach Ally
Advanced, to be discomfited and die.
Yonder, whilst leading on his rallied force,
Is Kisheen Singh seen falling from his horse;
And then-whence comes that purple-flowing stain?
Alas! the valiant Abdoul Khan was slain.
As falls the stately fir tree, so
Our hero bowed him to the blow,