Save a voiceless wail, save a cry of woe,
That burst forth in fitful throbbing—
A bullet had pierced its metal through,
For the Dead the wounded was sobbing!
For the faithful, the brave, for our brethren
For the Watch on the Rhine, true-hearted!
Oh, the sound cut into our inmost soul!—
It brokenly wailed the Departed!
And now fell the night, and we galloped
Watch-fires were flaring and flying,
Our chargers snorted, the rain poured fast—
And we thought of the Dead and the Dying!
* * * * *
DOUGLAS OF THE BLEEDING HEART (1842)
Earl Douglas, don thy helm so bright,
And buckle thy sword with speed,
Bind on thy sharpest spurs to-night
And saddle thy swiftest steed!
“The death watch ticks in the hall
All Scotland hears its warning,
King Robert in pains of death does groan,
He’ll never see the morning.”
For nigh on forty miles they sped
And spoke of words not four,
And horse and spur with blood were red
When they came to the palace door.
King Robert lay at the north tower’s
With death he’d begun to battle:
“I hear the sword of Bannockburn
On the stairway clatter and rattle.
“Ha! Welcome in God’s
name, gallant lord!
My end cometh presently,
And thou shalt harken my latest word
And write down my will for me:
“’Twas on the day of Bannockburn,
When Scotland’s star rose high,
’Twas on the day of Bannockburn
That a vow to God vowed I;
“I vowed that, should He defend
And give me the victory there,
With a thousand lances I’d go to fight
For His holy sepulchre.
“I’m perjured, for still my
heart doth stand,
’Twas broken with care and strife;
The man who would rule o’er the Scottish land
May scarce lead a pilgrim’s life.
“But thou, when my voice has sunk
When grief and glory depart,
Shalt straightway cut from out my breast
My battle-o’erwearied heart.
“Then thou shalt wrap the samite
And lock it in yellow gold,
And when o’er my bier the mass is said,
Let the flag of the cross be unrolled.
“Take a thousand steeds at
And a thousand knights also,
And carry my heart to the Savior’s land
That peace my soul may know.”
* * * * *
“Make ready, gallants, for
Let plume from helmet sway!
The Douglas bears the Bruce’s heart,
And who shall bar his way?
“Now cut the ropes, ye seamen
And hoist the sail so free!
The king must to his dark, dark grave,
And we to the dark-blue sea.”