The ‘Thud Crusade,’ 1189-1193, is the subject of this poem. Richard Coeur de Lion carried his followers by way of Sicily and Cyprus: making a transient conquest of the latter. In the Holy Land the siege of Acre consumed the time and strength of the Crusaders. They suffered terribly in the wilderness of Mount Carmel, and when at last preparing to march on Jerusalem (1192) were recalled to Ascalon. Richard now advanced to Bethany, but was unable to reach the Holy City. The tale is that while riding with a party of knights one of them called out, ’This way, my lord, and you will see Jerusalem.’ But Richard hid his face and said, ’Alas!—they who are not worthy to win the Holy City are not worthy to behold it.’
The vast Imperial dome; The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built by the Emperor Constantine; A.D. 326-335.
The hidden Grail; This vision forms the subject of one of Tennyson’s noblest Idylls.
A BALLAD OF EVESHAM
August 4: 1265
Earl Simon on the Abbey tower
In summer sunshine stood,
While helm and lance o’er Greenhill heights
Come glinting through the wood.
‘My son!’ he cried, ’I know his flag
Amongst a thousand glancing’:—
Fond father! no!—’tis Edward stern
In royal strength advancing.
The Prince fell on him like a hawk
At Al’ster yester-eve,
And flaunts his captured banner now
And flaunts but to deceive:—
—Look round! for Mortimer is by,
And guards the rearward river:—
The hour that parted sire and son
Has parted them for ever!
‘Young Simon’s dead,’ he thinks,
Upon his living son:
’Now God have mercy on our souls,
Our bodies are undone!
But, Hugh and Henry, ye can fly
Before their bowmen smite us—
They come on well! But ’tis from me
They learn’d the skill to fight us.’
—’For England’s cause, and
With you we fight and fall!’
—’Together, then, and die like men,
And Heaven has room for all!’
—Then, face to face, and limb to limb,
And sword with sword inwoven,
That stubborn courage of the race
On Evesham field was proven
O happy hills! O summer sky
Above the valley bent!
Your peacefulness rebukes the rage
Of blood on blood intent!
No thought was then for death or life
Through that long dreadful hour,
While Simon ’mid his faithful few
Stood like an iron tower,
’Gainst which the winds and waves are hurl’d
In vain, unmoved, foursquare;
And round him raged the insatiate swords
Of Edward and De Clare:
And round him in the narrow combe
His white-cross comrades rally,
While ghastly gashings, cloud the beck
And crimson all the valley,
And triple sword-thrusts meet his sword,
And thrice the charge he foils,
Though now in threefold flood the foe
Round those devoted boils:
And still the light of England’s cause
And England’s love was o’er him,
Until he saw his gallant boy
Go down in blood before him:—