ページの画像
PDF
ePub

But, till more near the shock of fight,
Reining a palfrey low and light.
A diadem of gold was set
Above his bright steel bassinet,
And clasp'd within its glittering twine
Was seen the glove of Argentine ;
Truncheon or leading staff he lacks,
Bearing, instead, a battle-axe.
He ranged his soldiers for the fight,
Accoutred thus, in open sight
Of either host. Three bowshots far,
Paused the deep front of England's war,

And rested on their arms awhile,

To close and rank their warlike filc,

And hold high council, if that night
Should view the strife, or dawning light.

XIV.

O gay, yet fearful to behold,
Flashing with steel and rough with gold,

And bristled o'er with bills and spears,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

With plumes and pennons waving fair,
Was that bright battle-front! for there

Rode England's King and peers :
And who, that saw that monarch ride,
His kingdom battled by his side,

Could then his direful doom foretell !

Fair was his seat in knightly selle,
And in his sprightly eye was set
Some spark of the Plantagenet.
Though light and wandering was his glance,
It flash'd at sight of shield and lance.
« Know'st thou," he said, “ De Argentine,

Yon knight who marshals thus their line ?"

66 The tokens on his helmet tell

The Bruce, my Liege : I know him well."

66 And shall the audacious traitor brave

The presence where our banners wave ?”. “ So please my Liege,” said Argentine, 66 Were he but horsed on steed like mine, To give him fair and knightly chance, I would adventure forth my lance."

6 In battle-day,” the King replied, “ Nice tourney rules are set aside.

-Still must the rebel dare our wrath ?

Set on him-sweep him from our path !”-
And, at King Edward's signal, soon
Dash'd from the ranks Sir Henry Boune.

[ocr errors]

Of Hereford's high blood he came,
A race renown'd for knightly fame.
He burn'd before his Monarch's eye
To do some deed of chivalry.

He spurrd his steed, he couch'd his lance,

And darted on the Bruce at once.

-As motionless as rocks, that bide The wrath of the advancing tide, The Bruce stood fast.-Each breast beat high, And dazzled was each gazing eyeThe heart had hardly time to think, The eye-lid scarce had time to wink,

While on the King, like flash of flame,
Spurr'd to full speed the war-horse came!
The partridge may the falcon mock,
If that slight palfrey stand the shock
But, swerving from the Knights career,
Just as they met, Bruce shunn'd the spear.
Onward the baffled warrior bore

His course-but soon his course was o'er !

High in his stirrups stood the King,
And
gave

his battle-axe the swing. Right on De Boune, the whiles he pass'd,

Fell that stern dintthe first the last !

Such strength upon the blow was put,
The helmet crash'd like hazel-nut;

The axe-shaft, with its brazen clasp,
Was shiver'd to the gauntlet grasp.
Springs from the blow the startled horse,
Drops to the plain the lifeless corse ;

-First of that fatal field, how soon,
How sudden, fell the fierce De Boune!

XVI.

One pitying glance the Monarch sped,
Where on the field his foe lay dead;
Then gently turn’d his palfrey's head,
And, pacing back his sober way,
Slowly he gain'd his own array.
There round their King the leaders crowd,
And blame his recklessness aloud,

That risk'd ʼgainst each adventurous spear A life so valued and so dear.

His broken weapon's shaft survey'd
The King, and careless answer made.--
“ My loss may pay my folly's tax;
I've broke my trusty battle-axe."
'Twas then Fitz-Louis, bending low,
Did Isabel's commission show;

Edith, disguised, at distance stands,

And hides her blushes with her hands.

« 前へ次へ »