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To gain the opposing hill.
That morn, to many a trumpet-clang,
Twisel ! thy rock's deep echo rang ;
And many a chief of birth and rank,
Saint Helen! at thy fountain drank.
Thy hawthorn glade, which now we see
In spring-tide bloom so lavishly,
Had then from many an axe its doom,
To give the marching columns room.
And why stands Scotland idly now,
Dark Flodden ! on thy airy brow,
Since England gains the pass the while,
And struggles through the deep defile /
What checks the fiery soul of James ?
Why sits that champion of the dames
Inactive on his steed,
And sees, between him and his land,
Between him and Tweed's southern strand,
His host Lord Surrey lead ?
What vails the vain knight-errant's brand ?-
0, Douglas, for thy leading wand !
Fierce Randolph, for thy speed !
O for one hour of Wallace wight,
Or well-skilled Bruce, to rule the fight,
And cry—“Saint Andrew and our right !"
Another sight had seen that morn,
From Fate's dark book a leaf been torn,
And Flodden had been Bannock-bourne !
The precious hour has passed in vain,
And England's host has gained the plain :
Wheeling their march, and circling still,
Around the base of Flodden-hill.
Ere yet the bands met Marmion's eye,
Fitz-Eustace shouted loud and high,
“Hark! hark ! my lord, an English drum!
And see ascending squadrons come
Between Tweed's river and the hill,
Foot, horse, and cannon :-hap what hap,
My basnet to a prentice cap, .
Lord Surrey's o'er the Till -
Yet more ! yet more !-how fair arrayed
They file from out the hawthorn shade,
And sweep so gallant by!
With all their banners bravely spread,
And all their armour flashing high,
Saint George might waken from the dead.
To see fair England's standards fly.”— “Stint in thy prate,” quoth Blount; "thoud'st best, And listen to our lord's behest."With kindling brow Lord Marmion said,“This instant be our band arrayed ;
The river must be quickly crossed,
That we may join Lord Surrey's host.
ell I trust,
That fight he will, and fight he must, -
The Lady Clare behind our lines
Shall tarry, while the battle joins.” —
Himself he swift on horseback threw,
Scarce to the Abbot bade adieu ;
Far less would listen to his prayer,
To leave behind the helpless Clare. Down to the Tweed his band he drew, And muttered as the food they view,
“The pheasant in the falcon's claw,
He scarce will yield to please a daw :
Lord Angus may the Abbot awe,
So Clare shall bide with me.”'
Then on that dangerous ford, and deep,
Where to the Tweed Leat's eddies creep,
He ventured desperately:
And not a moment will he bide,
Till squire, or groom, before him ride ;
Headmost of all he stems the tide,
And stems it gallantly.
Eustace held Clare upon her horse,
Old Hubert led her rein,
Stoutly they braved the current's course,
And though far downward driven perforce,
The southern bank they gain;
Behind them, straggling, came to shore,
As best they might, the train :
Each o'er his head his yew-bow bore,
A caution not in vain:
Deep need that day that every string,
By wet unharmed, should sharply ring.
A moment then Lord Marmion stayed,
And breathed his steed, his meu arrayed,
Then forward moved his band,
Until, Lord Surrey's rear-guard won,
He halted by a cross of stone,
That, on a hillock standing lone,
Did all the field command.
XXIII. Hence might they see the full array Of either host, for deadly fray ; Their marshalled lines stretched east and west,
And fronted north and south,
And distant salutation past
From the loud cannon mouth;
Not in the close successive rattle,
That breathes the voice of modern battle,
But slow and far between.
The hillock gained, Lord Marmion stayed : “ Here, by this cross,” he gently said,
"You well may view the scene;
Here shalt thou tarry, lovely Clare:
O! think of Marmion in thy prayer !-
Thou wilt not well,-no less my care
Shall, watchful, for thy weal prepare. -
You, Blount and Eustace, are her guard,
With ten picked archers of my train ;
With England if the day go hard,
To Berwick speed amain. -
But, if we conguer, cruel maid !
My spoils shall at your feet be laid,
When here we meet again."
He waited not for answer there,
And would not mark the maid's despair
Nor heed the discontented look
From either squire ; but spurred amain,
And, dashing through the battle-plain,
His way to Surrey took.
XXIV. “- The good Lord Marmion, by my life!
Welcome to danger's hour !
Short greeting serves in time of strife:-
Thus have I ranged my power :
Myself will rule this central host,
... Stout Stanley fronts their right,
My sons command the vaward post,
With Brian Tunstall, stainless knight;
Lord Dacre, with his horsemen light,
Shall be in rear-ward of the fight, And succour those that need it most.
Now, gallant Marmion, well I know,
Would gladly to the vanguard go;
Edmund, the Admiral, Tunstall there,
With thee their charge will blithely share ;
There fight thine own retainers too,
Beneath De Burg, thy steward true.”-
“ Thanks, noble Surrey !” Marmion said,
Nor further greeting there he paid ;
But, parting like a thunder-bolt,
First in the vanguard made a halt,
Where such a shout there rose,
Of “ Marmion ! Marmion !” that the cry
Up Flodden mountain shrilling high,
Startled the Scottish foes.
Blount and Fitz-Eustace rested still
With Lady Clare upon the hill;
On which (for far the day was spent,)
The western sun-beams now were bent.
The cry they heard, its meaning knew,
Could plain their distant comrades view :
Sadly to Blount did Eustace say,
“Unworthy office here to stay !
No hope of gilded spurs to-day.-
But, see ! look up-on Flodden bent,
The Scottish foe has fired his tent.”--
And sudden, as he spoke,
From the sharp ridges of the hill,
All downward to the banks of Till,
Was wreathed in sable smoke.
Volumed and vast, and rolling far,
The cloud en veloped Scotland's war,
As down the hill they broke;
Nor martial shout. nor minstrel tone.
Announced their march; their tread alone,
At times one warning trumpet blown,
At times a stifled hum,
Told England, from his mountain-throne
King James did rusbing come.-
Scarce could they bear, or see their foes,
Until at weapon-point they close. -
They close, in clouds of smoke and dust,
With sword-sway, and with lance's thrust;
And such a yell was there,
Of sudden and portentous birth,
As if men fought upon the earth
And fiends in upper air;
O life and death were in the shout,
Recoil and rally, charge and rout,
And triumph and despair.
Long looked the anxious squires ; their eye
Could in the darkness nought descry.
XXVI. At length the freshening western blast Aside the shroud of battle cast; And, first, the ridge of mingled spears Above the brightening cloud appears ; And in the smoke the pennons flew, As in the storm the white sea-mew, Then marked they, dashing broad and far The broken billows of the war, And plumèd crests of chieftains brave, Floating like foam upon the wave:
But nought distinct they see :
Wide raged the battle on the plain;
Spears shook, and falchions flashed amain;
Fell England's arrow-flight like rain ;.
Crests rose, and stooped, and rose again,
Wild and disorderly.
Amid the scene of tumult, high
They saw lord Marmion's falcon fly:
And stainless Tunstall's banner white,
And Edmund Howard's lion bright,
Still bear them bravely in the fight;
Although against them. come,
Of gallant Gordons many a one,
And many a stubborn Highlandman,
And many a rugged Border clan,
With Huntley, and with Home.
Far on the left, unseen the while,
Stanley broke Lennox and Argyle;
Though there the western mountaineer
Rushed with bare bosom on the spear,
And flung the feeble targe aside,
And with both hands the broad-sword plied:
'Twas vain :-But Fortune, on the right,
With fickle smile, cheered Scotland's fight.
Then fell that spotless banner white,
The Howard's lion fell;
Yet still Lord Marmion's falcon flew
With wavering flight, while fiercer grew
Around the battle yell.
The Border slogan rent the sky!
A Home! a Gordon! was the cry;
Loud were the clanging blows;
Advanced,- forced back,—now low, now high,
The pennon sunk and rose;
As bends the bark's mast in the gale,
When rent are rigging, shrouds, and sail,
It wavered mid the foes.
No longer Blount the view could bear :-
“ By heaven, and all its saints, I swear,
I will not see it lost!
Fitz-Eustace, you with Lady Clare
May bid your beads, and patter prayer,
I gallop to the host."
And to the fray he rode amain,
Followed by all the archer train.
The fiery youth, with desperate charge,
Made, for a space, an opening large,-
The rescued banner rose,
But darkly closed the war around,
Like pine-tree, rooted from the ground,
It sunk among the foes.
Then Eustace mounted too;—yet stayed,
As loath to leave the belpless maid,
When, fast as shaft can fly,
Blood-shot his eyes, his nostrils spread,
The loose rein dangling from his head,
Housing and saddle bloody red,
Lord Marmion's steed rushed by;
And Eustace, maddening at the sight,
A look and sign to Clara cast,
To mark he would return in baste,
Then plunged into the fight.
Ask me not what the maiden feels,
Left in that dreadful hour alone: