Ode On The Death Of The Duke Of Wellington by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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"That World-earthquake, Waterloo!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington (1769–1852) was one of England's most loudly acclaimed heroes, especially after his defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo on a Sunday in 1815. When he died, the English mourned his passing as the death of a great man who represented the epitome of what his nation expected from a leader–a valiant warrior, great statesmen, and loyal citizen. Having been appointed poet laureate in 1850, Tennyson was called upon to write a commemorative poem in honor of this hero; this poem was thus his first occasional piece and is usually regarded as the best of the poems that he wrote in his official role. With the enthusiasm of his grieving contemporaries, Tennyson compares Wellington to the naval hero Lord Nelson, also buried in St. Paul's Cathedral, and describes with growing excitement how Wellington saved the land from the French Eagle while Nelson defeated the French at sea. These two British heroes ended the threat to the freedom of Europe and are eulogized as representing the two sources of the peace and prosperity of the 1850's.

Again their ravening eagle rose
In anger, wheel'd on Europe-shadowing wings,
And barking for the thrones of kings;
Till one that sought but Duty's iron crown
On that loud Sabbath shook the spoiler down;
A day of onsets of despair! . . .
So great a soldier taught us there
What long-enduring hearts could do
In that world-earthquake, Waterloo!