Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The World's Best Poetry, Volume 8 by Various

Part 5 out of 9

Adobe PDF icon
Download The World's Best Poetry, Volume 8 pdf
File size: 0.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.


A soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algiers,
There was lack of woman's nursing, there was dearth of woman's
But a comrade stood beside him, while his life-blood ebbed away,
And bent, with pitying glances, to hear what he might say.
The dying soldier faltered, and he took that comrade's hand,
And he said, "I nevermore shall see my own, my native land;
Take a message, and a token, to some distant friends of mine,
For I was born at Bingen,--at Bingen on the Rhine.

"Tell my brothers and companions, when they meet and crowd around,
To hear my mournful story, in that pleasant vineyard ground,
That we fought the battle bravely, and when the day was done,
Full many a corse lay ghastly pale beneath the setting sun;
And, mid the dead and dying, were some grown old in wars,--
The death-wound on their gallant breasts, the last of many scars;
And some were young, and suddenly beheld life's morn decline,--
And one had come from Bingen,--fair Bingen on the Rhine.

"Tell my mother that her other son shall comfort her old age;
For I was still a truant bird, that thought his home a cage.
For my father was a soldier, and even as a child
My heart leaped forth to hear him tell of struggles fierce and wild;
And when he died, and left us to divide his scanty hoard,
I let them take whate'er they would,--but kept my father's sword;
And with boyish love I hung it where the bright light used to shine,
On the cottage wall at Bingen,--calm Bingen on the Rhine.

"Tell my sister not to weep for me, and sob with drooping head,
When the troops come marching home again with glad and gallant
But to look upon them proudly, with a calm and steadfast eye,
For her brother was a soldier too, and not afraid to die;
And if a comrade seek her love, I ask her in my name
To listen to him kindly, without regret or shame,
And to hang the old sword in its place (my father's sword and mine)
For the honor of old Bingen,--dear Bingen on the Rhine.

"There's another,--not a sister; in the happy days gone by
You'd have known her by the merriment that sparkled in her eye;
Too innocent for coquetry,--too fond for idle scorning,--
O friend! I fear the lightest heart makes sometimes heaviest
Tell her the last night of my life (for, ere the moon be risen,
My body will be out of pain, my soul be out of prison),--
I dreamed I stood with _her_, and saw the yellow sunlight shine
On the vine-clad hills of Bingen,--fair Bingen on the Rhine.

"I saw the blue Rhine sweep along,--I heard, or seemed to hear,
The German songs we used to sing, in chorus sweet and clear;
And down the pleasant river, and up the slanting hill,
The echoing chorus sounding, through the evening calm and still;
And her glad blue eyes were on me, as we passed, with friendly talk,
Down many a path beloved of yore, and well-remembered walk!
And her little hand lay lightly, confidingly in mine,--
But we'll meet no more at Bingen,--loved Bingen on the Rhine."

His trembling voice grew faint and hoarse,--his grasp was childish
His eyes put on a dying look,--he sighed and ceased to speak;
His comrade bent to lift him, but the spark of life had fled,--
The soldier of the Legion in a foreign land is dead!
And the soft moon rose up slowly, and calmly she looked down
On the red sand of the battle-field, with bloody corses strewn;
Yes, calmly on that dreadful scene her pale light seemed to shine,
As it shone on distant Bingen,--fair Bingen on the Rhine.


* * * * *



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 steeds 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 stained 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.


* * * * *



Now glory to the Lord of hosts, from whom all glories are!
And glory to our sovereign liege, King Henry of Navarre!
Now let there be the merry sound of music and the dance,
Through thy corn-fields green, and sunny vines, O pleasant land of
And thou, Rochelle, our own Rochelle, proud city of the waters,
Again let raptures light the eyes of all thy mourning daughters;
As thou wert constant in our ills, be joyous in our joys;
For cold and stiff and still are they who wrought thy walls annoy.
Hurrah! hurrah! a single field hath turned the chance of war!
Hurrah! hurrah! for Ivry, and Henry of Navarre.

Oh! how our hearts were beating, when, at the dawn of day,
We saw the army of the League drawn out in long array;
With all its priest-led citizens, and all its rebel peers,
And Appenzel's stout infantry, and Egmont's Flemish spears.
There rode the brood of false Lorraine, the curses of our land;
And dark Mayenne was in the midst, a truncheon in his hand;
An as we looked on them, we thought of Seine's empurpled flood,
And good Coligni's hoary hair all dabbled with his blood;
And we cried unto the living God, who rules the fate of war,
To fight for His own holy name, and Henry of Navarre.

The king has come to marshal us, in all his armor drest;
And he has bound a snow-white plume upon his gallant crest.
He looked upon his people, and a tear was in his eye;
He looked upon the traitors, and his glance was stern and high.
Right graciously he smiled on us, as rolled from wing to wing,
Down all our line, a deafening shout: God save our lord the king!
"And if my standard-bearer fall, as fall full well he may--
For never saw I promise yet of such a bloody fray--
Press where you see my white plume shine amidst the ranks of war,
And be your oriflamme to-day the helmet of Navarre."

Hurrah! the foes are moving. Hark to the mingled din,
Of fife, and steed, and trump, and drum, and roaring culverin.
The fiery duke is pricking fast across Saint Andre's plain,
With all the hireling chivalry of Guelders and Almayne.
Now by the lips of those ye love, fair gentlemen of France,
Charge for the golden lilies--upon them with the lance!
A thousand spurs are striking deep, a thousand spears in rest.
A thousand knights are pressing close behind the snow-white crest;
And in they burst, and on they rushed, while, like a guiding star,
Amidst the thickest carnage blazed the helmet of Navarre.

Now, God be praised, the day is ours: Mayenne hath turned his rein;
D'Aumale hath cried for quarter; the Flemish count is slain;
Their ranks are breaking like thin clouds before a Biscay gale;
The field is heaped with bleeding steeds, and flags, and cloven mail.
And then we thought on vengeance, and, all along our van,
Remember Saint Bartholomew! was passed from man to man.
But out spake gentle Henry--"No Frenchmen is my foe:
Down, down, with every foreigner, but let your brethren go."
Oh! was there ever such a knight, in friendship or in war,
As our sovereign lord, King Henry, the soldier of Navarre?

Right well fought all the Frenchmen who fought for France to-day;
And many a lordly banner God gave them for a prey.
But we of the religion have borne us best in fight;
And the good lord of Rosny hath ta'en the cornet white--
Our own true Maximilian the cornet white hath ta'en,
The cornet white with crosses black, the flag of false Lorraine.
Up with it high; unfurl it wide--that all the host may know
How God hath humbled the proud house which wrought His Church such
Then on the ground, while trumpets sound their loudest point of war,
Fling the red shreds, a footcloth meet for Henry of Navarre.

Ho! maidens of Vienna; ho! matrons of Lucerne--
Weep, weep, and rend your hair for those who never shall return.
Ho! Philip, send, for charity, thy Mexican pistoles,
That Antwerp monks may sing a mass for thy poor spearmen's souls.
Ho! gallant nobles of the League, look that your arms be bright;
Ho! burghers of St. Genevieve, keep watch and ward to-night;
For our God hath crushed the tyrant, our God hath raised the slave,
And mocked the counsel of the wise, and the valor of the brave.
Then glory to His holy name, from whom all glories are;
And glory to our sovereign lord, King Henry of Navarre!


* * * * *


You know we French stormed Ratisbon:
A mile or so away,
On a little mound, Napoleon
Stood on our storming-day;
With neck out-thrust, you fancy how,
Legs wide, arms locked behind,
As if to balance the prone brow,
Oppressive with its mind.

Just as perhaps he mused, "My plans
That soar, to earth may fall,
Let once my army-leader Lannes
Waver at yonder wall,"
Out 'twixt the battery-smokes there flew
A rider, bound on bound
Full-galloping; nor bridle drew
Until he reached the mound.

Then off there flung in smiling joy,
And held himself erect
By just his horse's mane, a boy:
You hardly could suspect
(So tight he kept his lips compressed,
Scarce any blood came through),
You looked twice ere you saw his breast
Was all but shot in two.

"Well," cried he, "Emperor, by God's grace
We've got you Ratisbon!
The marshal's in the market-place,
And you'll be there anon
To see your flag-bird flap his vans
Where I, to heart's desire,
Perched him!" The chief's eye flashed; his plans
Soared up again like fire.

The chief's eye flashed; but presently
Softened itself, as sheathes
A film the mother-eagle's eye
When her bruised eaglet breathes:
"You're wounded!" "Nay," his soldier's pride
Touched to the quick, he said:
"I'm killed, sire!" And, his chief beside,
Smiling, the boy fell dead.


* * * * *


The work is done! the spent flame burns no more,
The furnace fires smoke and die,
The iron flood boils over. Ope the door,
And let the haughty one pass by!
Roar, mighty river, rush upon your course,
A bound,--and, from your dwelling past,
Dash forward, like a torrent from its source,
A flame from the volcano cast!
To gulp your lava-waves earth's jaws extend,
Your fury in one mass fling forth,--
In your steel mould, O Bronze, a slave descend,
An emperor return to earth!
Again NAPOLEON,--'tis his form appears!
Hard soldier in unending quarrel,
Who cost so much of insult, blood, and tears,
For only a few boughs of laurel!

For mourning France it was a day of grief,
When, down from its high station flung,
His mighty statue, like some shameful thief,
In coils of a vile rope was hung;
When we beheld at the grand column's base,
And o'er a shrieking cable bowed,
The stranger's strength that mighty bronze displace
To hurrahs of a foreign crowd;
When, forced by thousand arms, head-foremost thrown,
The proud mass cast in monarch mould
Made sudden fall, and on the hard, cold stone
Its iron carcass sternly rolled.
The Hun, the stupid Hun, with soiled, rank skin,
Ignoble fury in his glance,
The emperor's form the kennel's filth within
Drew after him, in face of France!
On those within whose bosoms hearts hold reign,
That hour like remorse must weigh
On each French brow,--'tis the eternal stain,
Which only death can wash away!
I saw, where palace-walls gave shade and ease,
The wagons of the foreign force;
I saw them strip the bark which clothed our trees,
To cast it to their hungry horse.
I saw the Northman, with his savage lip,
Bruising our flesh till black with gore,
Our bread devour,--on our nostrils sip
The air which was our own before!

In the abasement and the pain,--the weight
Of outrages no words make known,--
I charged one only being with my hate:
_Be thou accursed, Napoleon!_
O lank-haired Corsican, your France was fair,
In the full sun of Messidor!
She was a tameless and a rebel mare,
Nor steel bit nor gold rein she bore;
Wild steed with rustic flank;--yet, while she trod,--
Reeking with blood of royalty,
But proud with strong foot striking the old sod,
At last, and for the first time, free,--
Never a hand, her virgin form passed o'er,
Left blemish nor affront essayed;
And never her broad sides the saddle bore,
Nor harness by the stranger made.
A noble vagrant,--with coat smooth and bright,
And nostril red, and action proud,--
As high she reared, she did the world affright
With neighings which rang long and loud.
You came; her mighty loins, her paces scanned,
Pliant and eager for the track;
Hot Centaur, twisting in her mane your hand,
You sprang all booted to her back.
Then, as she loved the war's exciting sound,
The smell of powder and the drum,
You gave her Earth for exercising ground,
Bade Battles as her pastimes come!
Then, no repose for her,--no nights, no sleep!
The air and toil for evermore!
And human forms like unto sand crushed deep,
And blood which rose her chest before!
Through fifteen years her hard hoofs' rapid course
So ground the generations,
And she passed smoking in her speed and force
Over the breast of nations;
Till,--tired in ne'er earned goal to place vain trust,
To tread a path ne'er left behind,
To knead the universe and like a dust
To uplift scattered human kind,--
Feebly and worn, and gasping as she trode,
Stumbling each step of her career,
She craved for rest the Corsican who rode.
But, torturer! you would not hear;
You pressed her harder with your nervous thigh,
You tightened more the goading bit,
Choked in her foaming mouth her frantic cry,
And brake her teeth in fury-fit.
She rose,--but the strife came. From farther fall
Saved not the curb she could not know,--
She went down, pillowed on the cannon-ball,
And thou wert broken by the blow!

Now born again, from depths where thou wert hurled,
A radiant eagle dost thou rise;
Winging thy flight again to rule the world,
Thine image reascends the skies.
No longer now the robber of a crown,--
The insolent usurper,--he,
With cushions of a throne, unpitying, down
Who pressed the throat of Liberty,--
Old slave of the Alliance, sad and lone,
Who died upon a sombre rock,
And France's image until death dragged on
For chain, beneath the stranger's stroke,--
NAPOLEON stands, unsullied by a stain:
Thanks to the flatterer's tuneful race
The lying poets who ring praises vain,
Has Caesar 'mong the gods found place!
His image to the city-walls gives light;
His name has made the city's hum,--
Still sounded ceaselessly, as through the fight
It echoed farther than the drum.
From the high suburbs, where the people crowd,
Doth Paris, an old pilgrim now,
Each day descend to greet the pillar proud,
And humble there his monarch brow;--
The arms encumbered with a mortal wreath,
With flowers for that bronze's pall,
(No mothers look on, as they pass beneath,--
It grew beneath their tears so tall!)--
In working-vest, in drunkenness of soul,
Unto the fife's and trumpet's tone,
Doth joyous Paris dance the Carmagnole
Around the great Napoleon.

Thus, Gentle Monarchs, pass unnoted on!
Mild Pastors of Mankind, away!
Sages, depart, as common brows have gone,
Devoid of the immortal ray!
For vainly you make light the people's chain;
And vainly, like a calm flock, come
On your own footsteps, without sweat or pain,
The people,--treading towards their tomb.
Soon as your star doth to its setting glide,
And its last lustre shall be given
By your quenched name,--upon the popular tide
Scarce a faint furrow shall be riven.
Pass, pass ye on! For you no statue high!
Your names shall vanish from the horde:
Their memory is for those who lead to die
Beneath the cannon and the sword;
Their love, for him who on the humid field
By thousands lays to rot their bones;
For him, who bids them pyramids to build,--
And bear upon their backs the stones!

From the French of AUGUSTE BARBIER.

* * * * *



I praised the speech, but cannot now abide it,
That warre is sweet to those that have not try'd it;
For I have proved it now and plainly see't,
It is so sweet, it maketh all things sweet.
At home Canaric wines and Greek grow lothsome;
Here milk is nectar, water tasteth toothsome.
There without baked, rost, boyl'd, it is no cheere;
Bisket we like, and Bonny Clabo here.
There we complain of one wan roasted chick;
Here meat worse cookt ne're makes us sick.
At home in silken sparrers, beds of Down,
We scant can rest, but still tosse up and down;
Here we can sleep, a saddle to our pillow,
A hedge the Curtaine, Canopy a Willow.
There if a child but cry, O what a spite!
Here we can brook three larums in one night.
There homely rooms must be perfumed with Roses;
Here match and powder ne're offend our noses.
There from a storm of rain we run like Pullets;
Here we stand fast against a shower of bullets.
Lo, then how greatly their opinions erre,
That think there is no great delight in warre;
But yet for this, sweet warre, He be thy debtor,
I shall forever love my home the better.


* * * * *


Dark fell the night, the watch was set,
The host was idly spread,
The Danes around their watchfires met,
Caroused, and fiercely fed.

The chiefs beneath a tent of leaves
And Guthrum, king of all,
Devoured the flesh of England's beeves,
And laughed at England's fall.
Each warrior proud, each Danish earl,
In mail of wolf-skin clad,
Their bracelets white with plundered pearl,
Their eyes with triumph mad.

From Humber-land to Severn-land,
And on to Tamar stream,
Where Thames makes green the towery strand,
Where Medway's waters gleam,--
With hands of steel and mouths of flame
They raged the kingdom through;
And where the Norseman sickle came,
No crop but hunger grew.

They loaded many an English horse
With wealth of cities fair;
They dragged from many a father's corse
The daughter by her hair.
And English slaves, and gems and gold,
Were gathered round the feast;
Till midnight in their woodland hold,
O, never that riot ceased.

In stalked a warrior tall and rude
Before the strong sea-kings;
"Ye Lords and Earls of Odin's brood,
Without a harper sings.
He seems a simple man and poor,
But well he sounds the lay;
And well, ye Norseman chiefs, be sure,
Will ye the song repay."

In trod the bard with keen cold look,
And glanced along the board,
That with the shout and war-cry shook
Of many a Danish lord.
But thirty brows, inflamed and stern,
Soon bent on him their gaze,
While calm he gazed, as if to learn
Who chief deserved his praise.

Loud Guthrum spake,--"Nay, gaze not thus,
Thou Harper weak and poor!
By Thor! who bandy looks with us
Must worse than looks endure.
Sing high the praise of Denmark's host,
High praise each dauntless Earl;
The brave who stun this English coast
With war's unceasing whirl."

The Harper slowly bent his head,
And touched aloud the string;
Then raised his face, and boldly said,
"Hear thou my lay, O King!
High praise from every mouth of man
To all who boldly strive,
Who fall where first the fight began,
And ne'er go back alive.

"Fill high your cups, and swell the shout,
At famous Regnar's name!
Who sank his host in bloody rout,
When he to Humber came.
His men were chased, his sons were slain,
And he was left alone.
They bound him in an iron chain
Upon a dungeon stone.

"With iron links they bound him fast;
With snakes they filled the hole,
That made his flesh their long repast,
And bit into his soul.

"Great chiefs, why sink in gloom your eyes?
Why champ your teeth in pain?
Still lives the song though Regnar dies!
Fill high your cups again!
Ye too, perchance, O Norseman lords!
Who fought and swayed so long,
Shall soon but live in minstrel words,
And owe your names to song.

"This land has graves by thousands more
Than that where Regnar lies.
When conquests fade, and rule is o'er,
The sod must close your eyes.
How soon, who knows? Not chief, nor bard;
And yet to me 'tis given,
To see your foreheads deeply scarred,
And guess the doom of Heaven.

"I may not read or when or how,
But, Earls and Kings, be sure
I see a blade o'er every brow,
Where pride now sits secure.
Fill high the cups, raise loud the strain!
When chief and monarch fall,
Their names in song shall breathe again,
And thrill the feastful hall."

Grim sat the chiefs; one heaved a groan,
And one grew pale with dread,
His iron mace was grasped by one,
By one his wine was shed.
And Guthrum cried, "Nay, bard, no more
We hear thy boding lay;
Make drunk the song with spoil and gore!
Light up the joyous fray!"
"Quick throbs my brain,"--so burst the song,--
To hear the strife once more.
The mace, the axe, they rest too long;
Earth cries, My thirst is sore.
More blithely twang the strings of bows
Than strings of harps in glee;
Red wounds are lovelier than the rose
Or rosy lips to me.

"O, fairer than a field of flowers,
When flowers in England grew,
Would be the battle's marshalled powers,
The plain of carnage new.
With all its death before my soul
The vision rises fair;
Raise loud the song, and drain the bowl!
I would that I were there!"

Loud rang the harp, the minstrel's eye
Rolled fiercely round the throng;
It seemed two crashing hosts were nigh,
Whose shock aroused the song.
A golden cup King Guthrum gave
To him who strongly played;
And said, "I won it from the slave
Who once o'er England swayed."

King Guthrum cried, "'Twas Alfred's own;
Thy song befits the brave:
The King who cannot guard his throne
Nor wine nor song shall have."
The minstrel took the goblet bright,
And said, "I drink the wine
To him who owns by justest right
The cup thou bid'st be mine.
To him, your Lord, O shout ye all!
His meed be deathless praise!
The King who dares not nobly fall,
Dies basely all his days."

"The praise thou speakest," Guthrum said,
"With sweetness fills mine ear;
For Alfred swift before me fled,
And left me monarch here.
The royal coward never dared
Beneath mine eye to stand.
O, would that now this feast he shared,
And saw me rule his land!"

Then stern the minstrel rose, and spake,
And gazed upon the King,--
"Not now the golden cup I take,
Nor more to thee I sing.
Another day, a happier hour,
Shall bring me here again:
The cup shall stay in Guthrum's power,
Till I demand it then."

The Harper turned and left the shed,
Nor bent to Guthrum's crown;
And one who marked his visage said
It wore a ghastly frown.
The Danes ne'er saw that Harper more,
For soon as morning rose,
Upon their camp King Alfred bore,
And slew ten thousand foes.


* * * * *


[A modernized form of the old ballad of the "Hunting o' the Cheviot."
Some circumstances of the battle of Olter-bourne (A.D. 1388) are
woven into the ballad, and the affairs of the two events are
confounded. The ballad preserved in the "Percy Reliques" is probably
as old as 1574. The one following is not later than the time of
Charles II]

God prosper long our noble king,
Our lives and safeties all;
A woful hunting once there did
In Chevy-Chace befall.

To drive the deer with hound and horn
Earl Piercy took his way;
The child may rue that is unborn
The hunting of that day.

The stout Earl of Northumberland
A vow to God did make,
His pleasure in the Scottish woods
Three summer days to take,--

The chiefest harts in Chevy-Chace
To kill and bear away.
These tidings to Earl Douglas came,
In Scotland where he lay;

Who sent Earl Piercy present word
He would prevent his sport.
The English earl, not fearing that,
Did to the woods resort.

With fifteen hundred bowmen bold,
All chosen men of might,
Who knew full well in time of need
To aim their shafts aright.

The gallant greyhounds swiftly ran
To chase the fallow deer;
On Monday they began to hunt,
When daylight did appear;

And long before high noon they had
A hundred fat bucks slain;
Then, having dined, the drovers went
To rouse the deer again.

The bowmen mustered on the hills,
Well able to endure;
And all their rear, with special care,
That day was guarded sure.

The hounds ran swiftly through the woods
The nimble deer to take,
That with their cries the hills and dales
An echo shrill did make.

Lord Piercy to the quarry went,
To view the slaughtered deer;
Quoth he, "Earl Douglas promised
This day to meet me here;

"But if I thought he would not come,
No longer would I stay;"
With that a brave young gentleman
Thus to the earl did say:--

"Lo, yonder doth Earl Douglas come,--
His men in armor bright;
Full twenty hundred Scottish spears
All marching in our sight;

"All men of pleasant Tividale,
Fast by the river Tweed;"
"Then cease your sports," Earl Piercy said,
"And take your bows with speed;

"And now with me, my countrymen,
Your courage forth advance;
For never was there champion yet,
In Scotland or in France,

"That ever did on horseback come,
But if my hap it were,
I durst encounter man for man,
With him to break a spear."

Earl Douglas on his milk-white steed,
Most like a baron bold,
Rode foremost of his company,
Whose armor shone like gold.

"Show me," said he, "whose men you be,
That hunt so boldly here,
That, without my consent, do chase
And kill my fallow-deer."

The first man that did answer make,
Was noble Piercy, he--
Who said, "We list not to declare,
Nor show whose men we be:

"Yet will we spend our dearest blood
Thy chiefest harts to slay."
Then Douglas swore a solemn oath,
And thus in rage did say:--

"Ere thus I will out-braved be,
One of us two shall die;
I know thee well, an earl thou art,--
Lord Piercy, so am I.

"But trust me, Piercy, pity it were,
And great offence, to kill
Any of these our guiltless men,
For they have done no ill.

"Let you and me the battle try,
And set our men aside."
"Accursed be he," Earl Piercy said,
"By whom this is denied."

Then stepped a gallant squire forth,
Witherington was his name,
Who said, "I would not have it told
To Henry, our king, for shame,

"That e'er my captain fought on foot,
And I stood looking on.
You two be earls," said Witherington,
"And I a squire alone;

"I'll do the best that do I may,
While I have power to stand;
While I have power to wield my sword
I'll fight with heart and hand."

Our English archers bent their bows,--
Their hearts were good and true;
At the first flight of arrows sent,
Full fourscore Scots they slew.

Yet stays Earl Douglas on the bent,
As chieftain stout and good;
As valiant captain, all unmoved,
The shock he firmly stood.

His host he parted had in three,
As leader ware and tried;
And soon his spearmen on their foes
Bore down on every side.

Throughout the English archery
They dealt full many a wound;
But still our valiant Englishmen
All firmly kept their ground.

And throwing straight their bows away,
They grasped their swords so bright;
And now sharp blows, a heavy shower,
On shields and helmets light.

They closed full fast on every side,--
No slackness there was found;
And many a gallant gentleman
Lay gasping on the ground.

In truth, it was a grief to see
How each one chose his spear,
And how the blood out of their breasts
Did gush like water clear.

At last these two stout earls did meet;
Like captains of great might,
Like lions wode, they laid on lode,
And made a cruel fight.

They fought until they both did sweat,
With swords of tempered steel,
Until the blood, like drops of rain,
They trickling down did feel.

"Yield thee, Lord Piercy," Douglas said,
"In faith I will thee bring
Where thou shalt high advanced be
By James, our Scottish king.

"Thy ransom I will freely give,
And this report of thee,--
Thou art the most courageous knight
That ever I did see."

"No, Douglas," saith Earl Piercy then,
"Thy proffer I do scorn;
I will not yield to any Scot
That ever yet was born."

With that there came an arrow keen
Out of an English bow,
Which struck Earl Douglas to the heart,--
A deep and deadly blow;

Who never spake more words than these:
"Fight on, my merry men all;
For why, my life is at an end;
Lord Piercy sees my fall."

Then leaving life, Earl Piercy took
The dead man by the hand;
And said, "Earl Douglas, for thy life
Would I had lost my land.

"In truth, my very heart doth bleed
With sorrow for thy sake;
For sure a more redoubted knight
Mischance did never take."

A knight amongst the Scots there was
Who saw Earl Douglas die,
Who straight in wrath did vow avenge
Upon the Earl Piercy.

Sir Hugh Mountgomery was he called,
Who, with a spear full bright,
Well mounted on a gallant steed,
Ran fiercely through the fight;

And past the English archers all,
Without a dread or fear;
And through Earl Piercy's body then
He thrust his hateful spear.

With such vehement force and might
He did his body gore,
The staff ran through the other side
A large cloth-yard and more.

So thus did both these nobles die,
Whose courage none could stain.
An English archer then perceived
The noble earl was slain.

He had a bow bent in his hand,
Made of a trusty tree;
An arrow of a cloth-yard long
To the hard head haled he.

Against Sir Hugh Mountgomery
So right the shaft he set,
The gray goose wing that was thereon
In his heart's blood was wet.

This fight did last from break of day
Till setting of the sun;
For when they rung the evening-bell
The battle scarce was done.

With stout Earl Piercy there were slain
Sir John of Egerton,
Sir Robert Ratcliff, and Sir John,
Sir James, that bold baron.

And with Sir George and stout Sir James,
Both knights of good account.
Good Sir Ralph Raby there was slain,
Whose prowess did surmount.

For Witherington my heart is woe
That ever he slain should be,
For when his legs were hewn in two,
He knelt and fought on his knee.

And with Earl Douglas there was slain
Sir Hugh Mountgomery,
Sir Charles Murray, that from the field
One foot would never flee;

Sir Charles Murray of Ratcliff, too,--
His sister's son was he;
Sir David Lamb, so well esteemed,
But saved he could not be.

And the Lord Maxwell in like case
Did with Earl Douglas die:
Of twenty hundred Scottish spears,
Scarce fifty-five did fly.

Of fifteen hundred Englishmen,
Went home but fifty-three;
The rest in Chevy-Chace were slain,
Under the greenwood tree.

Next day did many widows come,
Their husbands to bewail;
They washed their wounds in brinish tears.
But all would not prevail.

Their bodies, bathed in purple blood,
They bore with them away;
They kissed them dead a thousand times,
Ere they were clad in clay.

The news was brought to Edinburgh,
Where Scotland's king did reign,
That brave Earl Douglas suddenly
Was with an arrow slain:

"O heavy news," King James did say;
"Scotland can witness be
I have not any captain more
Of such account as he."

Like tidings to King Henry came
Within as short a, space,
That Piercy of Northumberland
Was slain in Chevy-Chace:

"Now God be with him," said our King,
"Since 'twill no better be;
I trust I have within my realm
Five hundred as good as he:

"Yet shall not Scots or Scotland say
But I will vengeance take;
I'll be revenged on them all
For brave Earl Piercy's sake."

This vow full well the king performed
After at Humbledown;
In one day fifty knights were slain
With lords of high renown;

And of the rest, of small account,
Did many hundreds die:
Thus endeth the hunting of Chevy-Chace,
Made by the Earl Piercy.

God save the king, and bless this land,
With plenty, joy, and peace;
And grant, henceforth, that foul debate
'Twixt noblemen may cease.


* * * * *


[A confused echo of the Scotch expedition which should have brought
the Maid of Norway to Scotland, about 1285.]

The king sits in Dunfermline town,
Drinking the blude-red wine,
"O whare will I get a skeely skipper,
To sail this new ship of mine!"

O up and spake an eldern knight,
Sat at the king's right knee,--
"Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor,
That ever sailed the sea."

Our king has written a braid letter,
And sealed it with his hand,
And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens,
Was walking on the strand.

"To Noroway, to Noroway,
To Noroway o'er the faem;
The king's daughter of Noroway,
'Tis thou maun bring her hame."

The first word that Sir Patrick read,
Sae loud loud laughed he;
The neist word that Sir Patrick read,
The tear blinded his e'e.

"O wha is this has done this deed,
And tauld the king o' me,
To send us out, at this time of the year,
To sail upon the sea?

"Be it wind, be it weet, be it hail, be it sleet,
Our ship must sail the faem;
The king's daughter of Noroway,
'Tis we must fetch her hame."

They hoysed their sails on Monenday morn,
Wi' a' the speed they may;
They hae landed in Noroway,
Upon a Wodensday.

They hadna been a week, a week,
In Noroway, but twae,
When that the lords o' Noroway
Began aloud to say,--

"Ye Scottishmen spend a' our king's goud,
And a' our queenis fee."
"Ye lie, ye lie, ye liars loud!
Fu' loud I hear ye lie.

"For I brought as much white monic,
As gane[A] my men and me,
And I brought a half-fou[B] o' gude red goud,
Out o'er the sea wi' me.

"Make ready, make ready, my merrymen a'!
Our gude ship sails the morn."
"Now, ever alake, my master dear,
I fear a deadly storm!

"I saw the new moon, late yestreen,
Wi' the auld moon in her arm;
And, if we gang to sea, master,
I fear we'll come to harm."

They hadna sailed a league, a league,
A league but barely three,
When the lift grew dark, and the wind blew loud,
And gurly grew the sea.

The ankers brak, and the topmasts lap,
It was sic a deadly storm;
And the waves cam o'er the broken ship,
Till a' her sides were torn.

"O where will I get a gude sailor,
To take my helm in hand,
Till I get up to the tall top-mast,
To see if I can spy land?"

"O here am I, a sailor gude,
To take the helm in hand,
Till you go up to the tall top-mast;
But I fear you'll ne'er spy land."

He hadna gane a step, a step,
A step but barely are,
When a bout flew out of our goodly ship,
And the salt sea it came in.

"Gae, fetch a web o' silken claith,
Another o' the twine,
And wap them into our ship's side,
And let na the sea come in."

They fetched a web o' the silken claith,
Another o' the twine,
And they wapped them round that gude ship's side,
But still the sea came in.

O laith, laith, were our gude Scots lords
To weet their cork-heeled shoon!
But lang or a' the play was played,
They wat their hats aboon.

And mony was the feather-bed,
That flattered on the faem;
And mony was the gude lord's son,
That never mair cam hame.

The ladyes wrang their fingers white,
The maidens tore their hair,
A' for the sake of their true loves;
For them they'll see na mair.

O lang, lang, may the ladyes sit,
Wi' their fans into their hand,
Before they see Sir Patrick Spens
Come sailing to the strand!

And lang, lang, may the maidens sit,
Wi' their goud kaims in their hair,
A' waiting for their ain dear loves!
For them they'll see na mair.

O forty miles off Aberdeen,
'Tis fifty fathoms deep,
And there lies gude Sir Patrick Spens,
Wi' the Scots lords at his feet.

[Footnote A: Suffice.]

[Footnote B: The eighth part of a peck.]


* * * * *


[This ballad exists in Denmark, and in other European countries. The
Scotch point out Blackhouse, on the wild Douglas Burn, a tributary of
the Yarrow, as the scene of the tragedy.]

"Rise up, rise up, now, Lord Douglas," she says,
"And put on your armor so bright;
Let it never be said, that a daughter of thine
Was married to a lord under night.

"Rise up, rise up, my seven bold sons,
And put on your armor so bright,
And take better care of your youngest sister,
For your eldest's awa the last night."

He's mounted her on a milk-white steed,
And himself on a dapple grey,
With a bugelet horn hung down by his side,
And lightly they rade away.

Lord William lookit o'er his left shoulder,
To see what he could see,
And there he spyed her seven brethren bold,
Come riding over the lea.

"Light down, light down, Lady Marg'ret," he said,
"And hold my steed in your hand,
Until that against your seven brothers bold,
And your father, I mak a stand."

She held his steed in her milk-white hand,
And never shed one tear,
Until that she saw her seven brethren fa',
And her father hard fighting, who loved her so dear.

"O hold your hand, Lord William!" she said,
"For your strokes they are wond'rous sair;
True lovers I can get many a ane,
But a father I can never get mair."

O she's ta'en out her handkerchief,
It was o' the holland sae fine,
And aye she dighted her father's bloody wounds,
That were redder than the wine.

"O chuse, O chuse, Lady Marg'ret," he said,
"O whether will ye gang or bide?"
"I'll gang, I'll gang, Lord William," she said,
"For ye have left me no other guide."

He's lifted her on a milk-white steed,
And himself on a dapple grey,
With a bugelet horn hung down by his side,
And slowly they baith rade away.

O they rade on, and on they rade,
And a' by the light of the moon,
Until they cam to yon wan water,
And there they lighted down.

They lighted down to tak a drink
Of the spring that ran sae clear;
And down the stream ran his gude heart's blood,
And sair she gan to fear.

"Hold up, hold up, Lord William," she says,
"For I fear that you are slain!"
"'Tis naething but the shadow of my scarlet cloak,
That shines in the water sae plain."

O they rade on, and on they rade,
And a' by the light of the moon,
Until they cam to his mother's ha' door,
And there they lighted down.

"Get up, get up, lady mother," he says,
"Get up, and let me in!--
Get up, get up, lady mother," he says,
"For this night my fair ladye I've win.

"O mak my bed, lady mother," he says,
"O mak it braid and deep!
And lay Lady Marg'ret close at my back,
And the sounder I will sleep."

Lord William was dead lang ere midnight,
Lady Marg'ret lang ere day--
And all true lovers that go thegither,
May they have mair luck than they!

Lord William was buried in St. Mary's kirk,
Lady Margaret in Mary's quire;
Out o' the lady's grave grew a bonny red rose,
And out o' the knight's a brier.

And they twa met, and they twa plat,
And fain they wad be near;
And a' the warld might ken right weel,
They were twa lovers dear.

But bye and rade the Black Douglas,
And wow but he was rough!
For he pulled up the bonny brier,
And flang 'tin St. Mary's loch.


* * * * *


Oh, it's twenty gallant gentlemen
Rode out to hunt the deer,
With mirth upon the silver horn
And gleam upon the spear;
They galloped through the meadow-grass,
They sought the forest's gloom,
And loudest rang Sir Morven's laugh,
And lightest tost his plume.
There's no delight by day or night
Like hunting in the morn;
So busk ye, gallant gentlemen,
And sound the silver horn!

They rode into the dark greenwood
By ferny dell and glade,
And now and then upon their cloaks
The yellow sunshine played;
They heard the timid forest-birds
Break off amid their glee,
They saw the startled leveret,
But not a stag did see.
Wind, wind the horn, on summer morn!
Though ne'er a buck appear,
There's health for horse and gentleman
A-hunting of the deer!

They panted up Ben Lomond's side
Where thick the leafage grew,
And when they bent the branches back
The sunbeams darted through;
Sir Morven in his saddle turned,
And to his comrades spake,
"Now quiet! we shall find a stag
Beside the Brownies' Lake.
Then sound not on the bugle-horn,
Bend bush and do not break,
Lest ye should start the timid hart
A-drinking at the lake."

Now they have reached the Brownies' Lake,--
A blue eye in the wood,--
And on its brink a moment's space
All motionless they stood;
When, suddenly, the silence broke
With fifty bowstrings' twang,
And hurtling through the drowsy air
Full fifty arrows sang.
Ah, better for those gentlemen,
Than horn and slender spear,
Were morion and buckler true,
A-hunting of the deer.

Not one of that brave company
Shall hunt the deer again;
Some fell beside the Brownies' Pool,
Some dropt in dell or glen;
An arrow pierced Sir Morven's breast,
His horse plunged in the lake,
And swimming to the farther bank
He left a bloody wake.
Ah, what avails the silver horn,
And what the slender spear?
There's other quarry in the wood
Beside the fallow deer!

O'er ridge and hollow sped the horse
Besprent with blood and foam,
Nor slackened pace until at eve
He brought his master home.
How tenderly the Lady Ruth
The cruel dart withdrew!
"False Tirrell shot the bolt," she said,
"That my Sir Morven slew!"
Deep in the forest lurks the foe,
While gayly shines the morn:
Hang up the broken spear, and blow
A dirge upon the horn.


* * * * *



Fair stood the wind for France,
When we our sails advance,
Nor now to prove our chance
Longer will tarry;
But putting to the main,
At Kause, the mouth of Seine,
With all his martial train,
Landed King Harry,

And taking many a fort,
Furnished in warlike sort,
Marched towards Agincourt
In happy hour,--
Skirmishing day by day
With those that stopped his way,
Where the French general lay
With all his power,

Which in his height of pride,
King Henry to deride,
His ransom to provide
To the king sending;
Which he neglects the while,
As from a nation vile,
Yet, with an angry smile,
Their fall portending.

And turning to his men,
Quoth our brave Henry then:
Though they to one be ten,
Be not amazed;
Yet have we well begun,
Battles so bravely won
Have ever to the sun
By fame been raised.

And for myself, quoth he,
This my full rest shall be;
England ne'er mourn for me,
Nor more esteem me,
Victor I will remain,
Or on this earth lie slain;
Never shall she sustain
Loss to redeem me.

Poitiers and Cressy tell,
When most their pride did swell,
Under our swords they fell;
No less our skill is
Than when our grandsire great,
Claiming the regal seat,
By many a warlike feat
Lopped the French lilies.

The Duke of York so dread
The eager vaward led;
With the main Henry sped,
Amongst his henchmen,
Excester had the rear,--
A braver man not there:
O Lord! how hot they were
On the false Frenchmen!

They now to fight are gone;
Armor on armor shone;
Drum now to drum did groan,--
To hear was wonder;
That with the cries they make
The very earth did shake;
Trumpet to trumpet spake,
Thunder to thunder.

Well it thine age became,
O noble Erpingham!
Which did the signal aim
To our hid forces;
When, from a meadow by,
Like a storm, suddenly.
The English archery
Struck the French horses

With Spanish yew so strong,
Arrows a cloth-yard long,
That like to serpents stung,
Piercing the weather;
None from his fellow starts,
But playing manly parts,
And, like true English hearts,
Stuck close together.

When down their bows they threw,
And forth their bilboes drew,
And on the French they flew,
Not one was tardy;
Arms were from shoulders sent;
Scalps to the teeth were rent;
Down the French peasants went;
Our men were hardy.

This while our noble king,
His broadsword brandishing,
Down the French host did ding,
As to o'erwhelm it;
And many a deep wound lent,
His arms with blood besprent,
And many a cruel dent
Bruised his helmet.

Glo'ster, that duke so good,
Next of the royal blood,
For famous England stood
With his brave brother,
Clarence, in steel so bright,
Though but a maiden knight,
Yet in that furious fight
Scarce such another.

Warwick in blood did wade;
Oxford the foe invade,
And cruel slaughter made,
Still as they ran up.
Suffolk his axe did ply;
Beaumont and Willoughby
Bare them right doughtily,
Ferrers and Fanhope.

Upon Saint Crispin's day
Fought was this noble fray,
Which fame did not delay
To England to carry;
O, when shall Englishmen
With such acts fill a pen,
Or England breed again
Such a King Harry?


* * * * *




Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace, there's nothing so becomes a man,
As modest stillness, and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage:
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let it pry through the portage of the head,
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it,
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth, and stretch the nostril wide;
Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit
To his full height!--On, on, you noblest English,
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers, that, like so many Alexanders,
Have, in these parts, from morn till even fought,
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument.
Dishonor not your mothers; now attest,
That those whom you called fathers, did beget you!
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war!--And you, good yeomen,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding: which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot;
Follow your spirit: and, upon this charge,
Cry--God for Harry! England! and Saint George!


* * * * *


A steed! a steed of matchlesse speed,
A sword of metal keene!
All else to noble heartes is drosse,
All else on earth is meaue.
The neighyinge of the war-horse prowde,
The rowlinge of the drum,
The clangor of the trumpet lowde,
Be soundes from heaven that come;
And oh! the thundering presse of knightes,
Whenas their war-cryes swell,
May tole from heaven an angel bright,
And rouse a fiend from hell.

Then mounte! then mounte, brave gallants all,
And don your helmes amaine;
Deathe's couriers, fame and honor, call
Us to the field againe.
No shrewish feares shall fill our eye
When the sword-hilt's in our hand--
Heart-whole we'll part, and no whit sighe
For the fayrest of the land;
Let piping swaine, and craven wight,
Thus weepe and puling crye;
Our business is like men to fight,
And hero-like to die!


* * * * *


King Charles, and who'll do him right now?
King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now?
Give a rouse: here's, in hell's despite now,
King Charles!

Who gave me the goods that went since?
Who raised me the house that sank once?
Who helped me to gold I spent since?
Who found me in wine you drank once?


_King Charles, and who'll do him right now?
King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now?
Give a rouse: here's, in hell's despite now,
King Charles_!

To whom used my boy George quaff else,
By the old fool's side that begot him?
For whom did he cheer and laugh else,
While Noll's damned troopers shot him?


_King Charles, and who'll do him right now?
King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now?
Give a rouse: here's, in hell's despite now,
King Charles!_


* * * * *


[June, 1645.]


O, wherefore come ye forth, in triumph from the north,
With your hands and your feet and your raiment all red?
And wherefore doth your rout send forth a joyous shout?
And whence be the grapes of the wine-press that ye tread?

O, evil was the root, and bitter was the fruit,
And crimson was the juice of the vintage that we trod:
For we trampled on the throng of the haughty and the strong,
Who sate in the high places and slew the saints of God.

It was about the noon of a glorious day of June,
That we saw their banners dance and their cuirasses shine,
And the man of blood was there, with his long essenced hair,
And Astley, and Sir Marmaduke, and Rupert of the Rhine.

Like a servant of the Lord, with his Bible and his sword,
The General rode along us to form us to the fight;
When a murmuring sound broke out, and swelled into a shout
Among the godless horsemen upon the tyrant's right.

And hark! like the roar of the billows on the shore,
The cry of battle rises along their charging line!
For God! for the cause!--for the Church! for the laws!
For Charles, king of England, and Rupert of the Rhine!

The furious German comes, with his clarions and his drums,
His bravoes of Alsatia, and pages of Whitehall;
They are bursting on our flanks. Grasp your pikes! Close your ranks!
For Rupert never comes but to conquer, or to fall.

They are here! They rush on! We are broken! We are gone!
Our left is borne before them like stubble on the blast.
O Lord, put forth thy might! O Lord, defend the right!
Stand back to back, in God's name! and fight it to the last!

Stout Skippon hath a wound; the centre hath given ground:
Hark! hark! what means the trampling of horsemen on our rear?
Whose banner do I see, boys? 'Tis he! thank God! 'tis he, boys!
Bear up another minute! Brave Oliver is here.

Their heads all stooping low, their points all in a row,
Like a whirlwind on the trees, like a deluge on the dikes,
Our cuirassiers have burst on the ranks of the Accurst,
And at a shock have scattered the forest of his pikes.

Fast, fast the gallants ride, in some safe nook to hide
Their coward heads, predestined to rot on Temple Bar;
And he,--he turns, he flies:--shame on those cruel eyes
That bore to look on torture, and dare not look on war!

Ho! comrades, scour the plain; and, ere ye strip the slain,
First give another stab to make your search secure;
Then shake from sleeves and pockets their broadpieces and lockets,
The tokens of the wanton, the plunder of the poor.

Fools! your doublets shone with gold, and your hearts were gay and bold,
When you kissed your lily hands to your lemans to-day;
And to-morrow shall the fox, from her chambers in the rocks,
Lead forth her tawny cubs to howl above the prey.

Where be your tongues that late mocked at heaven and hell and fate?
And the fingers that once were so busy with your blades,
Your perfumed satin clothes, your catches and your oaths!
Your stage-plays and your sonnets, your diamonds and your spades?

Down! down! forever down, with the mitre and the crown!
With the Belial of the court, and the Mammon of the Pope!
There is woe in Oxford halls; there is wail in Durham's stalls;
The Jesuit smites his bosom; the bishop rends his cope.

And she of the seven hills shall mourn her children's ills,
And tremble when she thinks on the edge of England's sword;
And the kings of earth in fear shall shudder when they hear
What the hand of God hath wrought for the Houses and the Word!


* * * * *


This I got on the day that Goring
Fought through York, like a wild beast roaring--
The roofs were black, and the streets were full,
The doors built up with packs of wool;
But our pikes made way through a storm of shot,
Barrel to barrel till locks grew hot;
Frere fell dead, and Lucas was gone,
But the drum still beat and the flag went on.

This I caught from a swinging sabre,
All I had from a long night's labor;
When Chester[A] flamed, and the streets were red,
In splashing shower fell the molten lead,
The fire sprang up, and the old roof split,
The fire-ball burst in the middle of it;
With a clash and a clang the troopers they ran,
For the siege was over ere well began.

This I got from a pistol butt
(Lucky my head's not a hazel nut);
The horse they raced, and scudded and swore;
There were Leicestershire gantlemen, seventy score;
Up came the "Lobsters," covered with steel--
Down we went with a stagger and reel;
Smash at the flag, I tore it to rag.
And carried it off in my foraging bag.

[Footnote A: Siege of Chester, in the civil war, 1645.]


* * * * *


[May 11, 1745.]

Thrice at the huts of Fontenoy the English column failed,
And twice the lines of Saint Antoine the Dutch in vain assailed;
For town and slope were filled with fort and flanking battery,
And well they swept the English ranks and Dutch auxiliary.
As vainly through De Barri's wood the British soldiers burst,
The French artillery drove them back diminished and dispersed.
The bloody Duke of Cumberland beheld with anxious eye,
And ordered up his last reserve, his latest chance to try.
On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, how fast his generals ride!
And mustering came his chosen troops like clouds at eventide.

Six thousand English veterans in stately column tread;
Their cannon blaze in front and flank, Lord Hay is at their head.
Steady they step adown the slopes, steady they mount the hill,
Steady they load, steady they fire, moving right onward still,
Betwixt the wood and Fontenoy, as through a furnace-blast,
Through rampart, trench, and palisade, and bullets showering fast;
And on the open plain above they rose and kept their course,
With ready fire and grim resolve that mocked at hostile force.
Past Fontenoy, past Fontenoy, while thinner grow their ranks,
They break as breaks the Zuyder Zee through Holland's ocean-banks.

More idly than the summer flies, French tirailleurs rush round;
As stubble to the lava-tide, French squadrons strew the ground;
Bombshells and grape and round-shot tore, still on they marched and
Fast from each volley grenadier and voltigeur retired.
"Push on my household cavalry," King Louis madly cried.
To death they rush, but rude their shock, not unavenged they died.
On through the camp the column trod--King Louis turned his rein.
"Not yet, my liege," Saxe interposed; "the Irish troops remain."
And Fontenoy, famed Fontenoy, had been a Waterloo,
Had not these exiles ready been, fresh, vehement, and true.

"Lord Clare," he said, "you have your wish; there are your Saxon foes!"
The Marshal almost smiles to see how furiously he goes.
How fierce the look these exiles wear, who're wont to be so gay!
The treasured wrongs of fifty years are in their hearts to-day:
The treaty broken ere the ink wherewith 'twas writ could dry;
Their plundered homes, their ruined shrines, their women's parting cry;
Their priesthood hunted down like wolves, their country overthrown--
Each looks as if revenge for all were staked on him alone.
On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, nor ever yet elsewhere,
Rushed on to fight a nobler band than these proud exiles were.

O'Brien's voice is hoarse with joy, as, halting, he commands:
"Fix bayonets--charge!" Like mountain-storm rush on those fiery bands.
Thin is the English column now, and faint their volleys grow,
Yet mustering all the strength they have, they make a gallant show.
They dress their ranks upon the hill, to face that battle-wind!
Their bayonets the breakers' foam, like rocks the men behind!
One volley crashes from their line, when through the surging smoke,
With empty guns clutched in their hands, the headlong Irish broke.
On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, hark to that fierce huzza!
"Revenge! remember Limerick! dash down the Sacsanagh!"

Like lions leaping at a fold, when mad with hunger's pang,
Right up against the English line the Irish exiles sprang;
Bright was their steel, 'tis bloody now, their guns are filled with
Through scattered ranks and severed files and trampled flags they tore.
The English strove with desperate strength, paused, rallied, scattered,
The green hillside is matted close with dying and with dead.
Across the plain and far away passed on that hideous wrack,
While cavalier and fantassin dash in upon their track.
On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, like eagles in the sun,
With bloody plumes the Irish stand--the field is fought and won!


* * * * *


[April 2, 1801.]

Of Nelson and the north
Sing the glorious day's renown,
When to battle fierce came forth
All the might of Denmark's crown,
And her arms along the deep proudly shone;
By each gun the lighted brand
In a bold determined hand,
And the prince of all the land
Led them on.

Like leviathans afloat
Lay their bulwarks on the brine;
While the sign of battle flew
On the lofty British line--
It was ten of April morn by the chime.
As they drifted on their path
There was silence deep as death;
And the boldest held his breath
For a time.

But the might of England flushed
To anticipate the scene;
And her van the fleeter rushed
O'er the deadly space between.
"Hearts of oak!" our captain cried; when each gun
From its adamantine lips
Spread a death-shade round the ships,
Like the hurricane eclipse
Of the sun.

Again! again! again!
And the havoc did not slack,
Till a feeble cheer the Dane
To our cheering sent us back;
Their shots along the deep slowly boom--
Then ceased--and all is wail,
As they strike the shattered sail,
Or in conflagration pale,
Light the gloom.

Out spoke the victor then,
As he hailed them o'er the wave:
"Ye are brothers! ye are men!
And we conquer but to save;
So peace instead of death let us bring;
But yield, proud foe, thy fleet,
With the crews, at England's feet,
And make submission meet
To our king."

Then Denmark blessed our chief,
That he gave her wounds repose;
And the sounds of joy and grief
From her people wildly rose,
As death withdrew his shades from the day.
While the sun looked smiling bright
O'er a wide and woful sight,
Where the fires of funeral light
Died away.

Now joy, old England, raise!
For the tidings of thy might,
By the festal cities' blaze,
Whilst the wine-cup shines in light;
And yet, amidst that joy and uproar,
Let us think of them that sleep
Full many a fathom deep,
By thy wild and stormy steep,

Brave hearts! to Britain's pride
Once so faithful and so true,
On the deck of fame that died,
With the gallant good Riou--
Soft sigh the winds of heaven o'er their grave!
While the billow mournful rolls,
And the mermaid's song condoles,
Singing glory to the souls
Of the brave!


* * * * *


[Corunna, Spain, January 16, 1809.]

Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the rampart we hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
O'er the grave where our hero we buried.

We buried him darkly, at dead of night,
The sods with our bayonets turning;
By the struggling moonbeams' misty light,
And the lanthorn dimly burning.

No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him;
But he lay, like a warrior taking his rest,
With his martial cloak around him.

Few and short were the prayers we said,
And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we steadfastly gazed on the face that was dead,
And we bitterly thought of the morrow.

We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed,
And smoothed down his lonely pillow.
That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,
And we far away on the billow!

Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,
And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him,
But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on
In the grave where a Briton has laid him!

But half of our heavy task was done,
When the clock struck the hour for retiring;
And we heard the distant and random gun
That the foe was sullenly firing.

Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone--
But we left him alone with his glory.


* * * * *


Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest