Lie still!—Thy mother-land herself
Would know thee not again: no more
The Raven from the northern shore
Hails the bold crew to push for pelf,
Through fire and blood and slaughter’d kings,
’Neath the black terror of his wings.
And thou,—thy very name is lost!
The peasant only knows that here
Bold Alfred scoop’d thy flinty bier,
And pray’d a foeman’s prayer, and tost
His auburn, head, and said ’One more
Of England’s foes guards England’s shore,’
And turn’d and pass’d to other feats,
And left thee in thine iron robe,
To circle with the circling globe,
While Time’s corrosive dewdrop eats
The giant warrior to a crust
Of earth in earth, and rust in rust.
So lie: and let the children play
And sit like flowers upon thy grave,
And crown with flowers,—that hardly have
A briefer blooming-tide than they;—
By hurrying years borne on to rest,
As thou, within the Mother’s breast.
October 14: 1066
’Gyrth, is it dawn in the sky that I see? or
is all the sky blood?
Heavy and sore was the fight in the North: yet we fought for the good.
O but—Brother ’gainst brother!—’twas hard!—Now I come with a will
To baste the false bastard of France, the hide of the tanyard and mill!
Now on the razor-edge lies
England the priceless, the prize!
God aiding, the Raven at Stamford we smote;
One stroke more for the land here I strike and devote!’
Red with fresh breath on her lips came the dawn; and
Kneels as man before God; then takes his long pole-axe, and goes
Where round their woven wall, tough ash-palisado, they crowd;
Mightily cleaves and binds, to his comrades crying aloud
’Englishmen stalwart and true,
But one word has Harold for you!
When from the field the false foreigners run,
Stand firm in your castle, and all will be won!
’Now, with God o’er us, and Holy Rood,
arm!’—And he ran for his spear:
But Gyrth held him back, ’mong his brothers Gyrth the most honour’d, most
’Go not, Harold! thine oath is against thee! the Saints look askance:
I am not king; let me lead them, me only: mine be the chance!’
—’No! The leader must lead!
Better that Harold should bleed!
To the souls I appeal, not the dust of the tomb:—
King chosen of Edward and England, I come!’
Over Heathland surge banners and lances, three armies;
William the last,
Clenching his mace; Rome’s gonfanon round him Rome’s majesty cast:
O’er his Bretons Fergant, o’er the hireling squadrons Montgomery lords,
Jerkin’d archers, and mail-clads, and horsemen with pennons and swords:—
—England, in threefold array,
Anchor, and hold them at bay,
Firm set in your own wooden walls! and the wave
Of high-crested Frenchmen will break on their grave.