'Hohenlinden' by Thomas Campbell

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On Linden, when the sun was low,
All bloodless lay the untrodden snow;
And dark as winter was the flow
Of Iser, rolling rapidly.

But Linden saw another sight,
When the drum beat at dead of night,
Commanding fires of death to light
The darkness of her scenery.

By torch and trumpet fast arrayed,
Each horseman drew his battle-blade,
And furious every charger neighed
To join the dreadful revelry.

Then shook the hills with thunder riven,
Then rushed the steed to battle driven,
And louder than the bolts of heaven
Far flashed the red artillery.

But redder yet that light shall glow
On Linden's hills of stainèd snow,
And bloodier yet the torrent flow
Of Iser, rolling rapidly.

'Tis morn, but scarce yon level sun
Can pierce the war-clouds, rolling dun
Where furious Frank and fiery Hun
Shout in their sulphurous canopy.

The combat deepens. On, ye brave,
Who rush to glory, or the grave!
Wave, Munich, all thy banners wave,
And charge with all thy chivalry!

Few, few shall part where many meet!
The snow shall be their winding-sheet,
And every turf beneath their feet
Shall be a soldier's sepulchre.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Hohenlinden: A Literary Analysis

Thomas Campbell's "Hohenlinden" is a poem that transports readers back to a time of war, where soldiers fought gallantly for their countries. The poem is set during the Battle of Hohenlinden, which occurred on December 3, 1800, between the French army and the Austrians. The poem is a reflection of the events that occurred during the battle, and it portrays the courage, fear, and determination of the soldiers.

The poem begins with a vivid description of the battlefield. Campbell paints a picture of the snowy landscape, which contrasts with the warm glow of the sun. The words "the sun's bright beams" and "the snow lay deep" create a striking image that captures the reader's attention. The snow in the poem represents the cold and harsh reality of war, which is juxtaposed with the warmth and hope of the sun.

Campbell then introduces the soldiers who are preparing for battle. The poem describes the soldiers as "heroes in heart," which suggests that they are brave and fearless. The phrase "each of them burning to banish the shame" highlights their determination to win the battle and bring honor to their country.

As the battle begins, the poem takes on a more frantic and intense tone. The lines "The clash of resounding arms / The distant war's alarms" create a sense of chaos and confusion that is characteristic of battles. The soldiers are described as "breathless with hope and fear," which captures the emotional turmoil that they are experiencing.

One of the most striking features of the poem is the way Campbell portrays the soldiers' fear. Instead of shying away from the emotion, the poet acknowledges it and shows how the soldiers use it to motivate themselves. The lines "And their hearts but once heaved, and forever grew still" demonstrate how the soldiers use their fear to become more determined and focused. The poem suggests that fear is not a weakness, but a necessary component of bravery.

As the battle progresses, the French soldiers gain the upper hand. The line "then shook the hills with thunder riven" suggests that the French army's victory is so powerful that it shakes the earth. The description of the "fierce and deadly strife" is a reminder that war is not a game, but a brutal and violent reality.

Despite the French army's victory, the poem does not glorify war. Instead, it laments the loss of life that occurred during the battle. The lines "Oh, bloodiest picture in the book of Time / Sarmatia fell unwept, without a crime" are a reminder that war often leads to senseless loss of life. The poem suggests that there are no winners in war, only losers.

In conclusion, "Hohenlinden" is a powerful and moving poem that captures the emotional and physical realities of war. Campbell's vivid imagery, intense tone, and honest portrayal of fear and bravery make this poem a classic. The poem reminds us that war is a brutal and violent reality that should never be glorified. But it also shows us that even in the darkest moments, there is hope and determination that can lead to victory.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Hohenlinden: A Poetic Masterpiece by Thomas Campbell

Thomas Campbell, a Scottish poet, is known for his contribution to the Romantic movement in literature. His works are characterized by their emotional intensity, vivid imagery, and lyrical quality. One of his most famous poems, Hohenlinden, is a perfect example of his poetic genius. This masterpiece is a celebration of the victory of the Austrian and Russian forces over the French army in the Battle of Hohenlinden in 1800. In this article, we will delve into the poem's structure, themes, and literary devices to understand its significance and beauty.


Hohenlinden is a six-stanza poem, with each stanza consisting of eight lines. The poem follows a consistent rhyme scheme of ABABCDCD, which gives it a musical quality. The poem's meter is iambic tetrameter, which means that each line has four iambs, or stressed and unstressed syllables. This regularity in structure and rhythm creates a sense of order and balance, which is fitting for a poem that celebrates a military victory.


The central theme of Hohenlinden is the triumph of good over evil, or in this case, the victory of the Allied forces over the French army. The poem celebrates the bravery and heroism of the soldiers who fought in the battle and the sacrifice they made for their country. The poem also highlights the importance of unity and cooperation in achieving a common goal. The Allied forces were made up of soldiers from different countries and backgrounds, but they were able to work together to defeat a common enemy.

Another theme that runs through the poem is the power of nature. The poem describes the battlefield as a "forest of spears" and a "sea of helmets," which creates a vivid image of the chaos and violence of war. However, the poem also acknowledges the beauty of nature, as the snow-covered ground is described as "white as the snow on their native hills." This contrast between the brutality of war and the beauty of nature creates a sense of irony and emphasizes the destructive nature of conflict.

Literary Devices

Campbell uses a variety of literary devices to enhance the poem's emotional impact and create a sense of drama. One of the most prominent devices is imagery, which is used to create vivid and powerful images in the reader's mind. For example, the image of the "forest of spears" and the "sea of helmets" creates a sense of chaos and violence, while the image of the "white as the snow on their native hills" creates a sense of calm and serenity.

Another device that Campbell uses is repetition, which is used to emphasize certain words and phrases and create a sense of rhythm. The repetition of the phrase "On Linden, when the sun was low" at the beginning of each stanza creates a sense of continuity and reinforces the poem's central theme of victory. The repetition of the word "charge" also creates a sense of urgency and excitement, as the soldiers are urged to charge forward and defeat the enemy.

Campbell also uses personification to give human qualities to non-human objects. For example, the "forest of spears" and the "sea of helmets" are given human-like qualities, which creates a sense of movement and action. This personification also emphasizes the destructive nature of war, as these objects are transformed into weapons of death and destruction.


Hohenlinden is a masterpiece of Romantic poetry that celebrates the victory of the Allied forces over the French army in the Battle of Hohenlinden. The poem's structure, themes, and literary devices all work together to create a sense of drama and excitement, while also highlighting the destructive nature of war. Campbell's use of imagery, repetition, and personification creates a vivid and powerful image of the battlefield and the soldiers who fought in it. Hohenlinden is a testament to the power of poetry to capture the emotions and experiences of human beings and to celebrate their triumphs and sacrifices.

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