Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
Last eve in Beauty’s circle proudly gay,
The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
The morn the marshalling in arms,—the day
Battle’s magnificently stern array!
The thunder-clouds close o’er it, which when rent
The earth is cover’d thick with other clay,
Which her own clay shall cover—heap’d and pent,
Rider and horse,—friend, foe,—in one red burial blent!
[Notes:_Waterloo_. Fought, 1815, between Napoleon on one side, and Wellington and Blucher (the Prussian General) on the other. Its result was the defeat of Napoleon, and his imprisonment by the Allies in St. Helena. The festivities held at Brussels, the headquarters of the British Army, on the eve of the battle, were rudely disturbed by the news that the action had already begun.
Ardennes. A district on the frontier of France, bordering on Belgium.
Ivry. The battle in which Henry IV., in the struggle for the crown of France, completely routed the forces of the Catholic League (1590).
My white plume shine. The white plume was the distinctive mark of the House of Bourbon.
Oriflamme, or Auriflamme (lit. Flame of Gold), originally the banner of the Abbey of St. Denis, afterwards appropriated by the crown of France. “Let the helmet of Navarre (Henry’s own country) be to-day the Royal Standard of France.”
Culverin. A piece of artillery of long range.
The fiery Duke (of Mayenne).
Pricking fast. Cf. “a gentle knight was pricking o’er the plain” (Spencer).
With all the hireling chivalry of Guelders and Almayne. The allies of the League. Almayne or Almen, a district in the Netherlands.
* * * * *
The King is come to marshal us,
in all his armour drest,
And he has bound a snow-white plume upon his gallant crest.
He look’d upon his people, and a tear was in his eye:
He look’d upon the traitors, and his glance was stern and
Right graciously he smiled on us, as roll’d from wing to
Down all our line a deafening shout, “God save our Lord the
“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 ye see my white plume shine, amidst the ranks
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
The fiery Duke is pricking fast across St. Andre’s plain,
With all the hireling chivalry of Guelders and Almayne.
Now by the lips of those we love, fair gentlemen of France,
Charge for the Golden Lilies,—upon them with the lance!
A thousand spurs are striking deep, a thousand