"'Who foils a Persian? Are they not all flint, / 'All steel and iron to the very heart?"

— Hurdis, James (1763-1801)

Place of Publication
Printed for J. Johnson
"'Who foils a Persian? Are they not all flint, / 'All steel and iron to the very heart?"
Metaphor in Context
'Are ye dismay'd, my friends? Where is the gay,
'The cheerful sunshine that few moments past
'Enliven'd ev'ry countenance I saw?
'So soon eclips'd and overcast with clouds
'Of weak and childish apprehension? What,
'Can ye forget, that he who leads the foe
'Has been already once repuls'd with loss?
'Is it not Croesus, whom we fought before
'At wond'rous odds, yet drove him from the field?
'He had an army then, whose swarming foot
'Were more in number than our army now
'Take horse and foot together. Yet besides,
'He had four hundred chariots, and fleet horse
'Full sixty thousand. We were few and weak,
'Our horse one third, our total foot half his,
'And not a chariot seen in all our ranks.
'Yet we engag'd him, and the day was won.
'We fought it bravely, the Assyrian fell,
'Conquest was our's, confusion was the foe's,
'And shall we fear him when he comes again,
'Bearing in mind that he was once repuls'd
'By numbers more unequal? Shall we not
'Assault him rather with augmented fire,
'Remembring how he fled and we pursued?
'Immortal Gods, if ye so quake with fear
'To think of Croesus and the tyrant King
'Thus coming, with what terror had ye shook
'Had ye been born supporters of their cause,
'And such an army as our own approach'd
'To give you battle? Say, we are Assyrians,
'And lo! where Cyrus comes, the fiery boy,
'Who beat us soundly when we fought him last
'And longs to fight again. Flying he comes
'Elate with victory and strong with toil.
'Shall we oppose him? Grant, that we are many,
'He too is num'rous, and he conquer'd then
'When we engag'd a lion to a lamb.
'Shall we prevail if we engage him now
'A lion to a lion? Mark his horse
'Cloth'd to the ears in armour. See his lines
'Of hardy Persians, since we fought him last
'Doubled, and more than doubled by ten thousand.
'Who foils a Persian? Are they not all flint,
'All steel and iron to the very heart?

'Look at his troop of camels. Call to mind
'That nature 'twixt the camel and the horse
'Put strange antipathy. Dispatch but one,
'A million horse shall not abide the sight.
'Look at his chariots. Can ye count their wheels?
'Yet ev'ry axle-tree is hid with scythes
'As Death were come to make the world his harvest,
'And these his sturdy ministers stood up
'To sweep away an empire in a breath.
'Look at his tow'rs, with skilful archers fill'd,
'Who sit above like Gods, and from on high
'Govern the fortune of the war below.
'Consider this, my friends, and let me ask
'Is there among you who presumes to think
'Our cause is desperate? If such there be,
'Let him forsake us, and support those arms
'He trembles to oppose. The man who fears
'May do his country service by desertion.'
Searching in HDIS (Poetry)
Only 1 entry in ECCO and ESTC (1790).

See James Hurdis, Poems by the Author of The Village Curate, and Adriano (London: J. Johnson, 1790). <Link to ECCO>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.