BY REGINALD HEBER.
Ye spirits of our fathers,
The hardy, bold, and free,
Who chased o’er Cressy’s gory field
A fourfold enemy!
From us who love your sylvan game,
To you the song shall flow,
To the fame of your name
Who so bravely bent the bow.
’Twas merry then
(Our ancient records tell),
With Robin Hood and Little John
Who dwelt by down and dell;
And yet we love the bold outlaw
Who braved a tyrant foe,
Whose cheer was the deer,
And his only friend the bow.
’Twas merry then
In autumn’s dewy morn,
When echo started from her hill
To hear the bugle-horn.
And beauty, mirth, and warrior worth
In garb of green did go
The shade to invade
With the arrow and the bow.
Ye spirits of our fathers!
Extend to us your care,
Among your children yet are found
The valiant and the fair,
’Tis merry yet in Old England,
Full well her archers know,
And shame on their name
Who despise the British bow!
THE BALLAD OF ROU.
BY LORD LYTTON.
From Blois to Senlis, wave by wave, rolled on the
And Frank on Frank went drifting down the weltering tide of blood;
There was not left in all the land a castle wall to fire,
And not a wife but wailed a lord, a child but mourned a sire.
To Charles the king, the mitred monks, the mailed barons flew,
While, shaking earth, behind them strode, the thunder march of Rou.
“O king,” then cried those barons bold,
“in vain are mace and mail,
We fall before the Norman axe, as corn before the flail.”
“And vainly,” cry the pious monks, “by Mary’s shrine we kneel,
For prayers, like arrows glance aside, against the Norman steel.”
The barons groaned, the shavelings wept, while near and nearer drew,
As death-birds round their scented feast, the raven flags of Rou.
Then said King Charles, “Where thousands fail,
what king can stand
The strength of kings is in the men that gather round the throne.
When war dismays my barons bold, ’tis time for war to cease;
When Heaven forsakes my pious monks the will of Heaven is peace.
Go forth, my monks, with mass and rood the Norman camp unto,
And to the fold, with shepherd crook, entice this grisly Rou.
“I’ll give him all the ocean coast, from
Michael Mount to Eure,
And Gille, my child, shall be his bride, to bind him fast and sure;
Let him but kiss the Christian cross, and sheathe the heathen sword,
And hold the lands I cannot keep, a fief from Charles his lord.”
Forth went the pastors of the Church, the Shepherd’s work to do,
And wrap the golden fleece around the tiger loins of Rou.