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They cast a lurid splendor; to the troops
Swift as the affrighted herd Scud o'er the plain, when rattling thunder-cracks Upon the bolted lightning follow close, The English hasten to their sheltering forts, Even there of safety doubtful, still appall’d 441 And trembling, as the pilgrim who by night On his way wilderd, to the wolf's deep howl Hears the wood echo, when from close pursuit Escaped, the topmost branch of some tall tree 445 He grasps elose clinging, still of the wild beast Fearful, his teeth jar, and the cold sweat stands Upon his clammy limbs.
Nor now the Maid Greedy of vengeance presses the pursuit. She bids the trumpet of retreat resound ; 450 A welcome note to the affrighted foe Blew that loud blast, whereat obediently The French, though eager on the invaders' heads To wreak their wrath, stay the victorious sword.
Loud is the cry of conquest as they turn 455 To Orleans. There what few to guard the town Unwilling had remain'd, haste forth to meet
The triumph. Many a blazing torch they held, Which raised aloft amid the midnight storm 459 Flash'd far a festive light. The Maid advanced ; Deep through the sky the hollow thunders rolld; Innocuous lightnings round the hallowed banner Wreath'd their red radiance.
Through the city gate Then as the laden convoy pass'd was heard The shout of exultation ; and such joy
465 The men of Orleans at that welcome sight Possess'd, as when from Bactria late subdued, The mighty Macedonian led his troops Amid the Sogdian desert, where no stream Wastes on the wild its fertilizing waves. 470 Fearful alike to pause, or to proceed ; Scorch'd by the sun that o'er their morning march Steam'd his hot vapours, heart-subdued and faint ; Such joy as then they felt, when from the heights Burst the soul-gladdening sound, for thence was seen The evening sun silvering the fertile vale, 476 Where Oxus roll'd below.
Clamours of joy Echo along the streets of Orleans, wont Long time to hear the infant's feeble cry, 479 The mother's frantic shriek, or the dread sound, When from the cannon burst its stores of death. Far flames the fire of joy on ruin'd piles And high heap'd carcasses, whence scared away From his abhorred meal, on clattering wing
484 Rose the night-raven slow.
In the English forts Sad was the scene. There all the livelong night
Steal in the straggling fugitives ; as when
JOAN OF ARC.
THE SEVENTH BOOK.
STRONG were the English forts, by daily toil
The city, might, himself the while unseen,
But cowering now amid their sheltering forts 31 Trembled the invading host.
Their leader's care In anxious vigilance prepares to ward The assault expected. Rightly he ared The Maid's intent, but vainly did he seek 35 To kindle in their breasts the wonted flame Of valour; for, by prodigies unmann'd, They wait the morn. The soldiers' pride was gone ; The blood was on their swords, their bucklers lay Defiled and unrepair’d, they sharpen'd not 40 Their blunted spears, the affrighted archer's hand Relax'd not his bent bow. To them, confused With fears of unknown danger, the long night Was dreadful, but more dreadful dawn'd the day.
The morning came; the martial Maid arose ; 45 Lovely in arms she moved. Around the gate, Eager again for conquest, throng the troops. High tower'd the Son of Orleans, in his strength Poising the ponderous spear. His batter'd shield, Witnessing the fierce fray of yesternight, 50 Hung on his sinewy arm.