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Their marshalled lines stretched east and west,
And fronted north and south,
And distant salutation passed
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 conquer, 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.
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 vanward 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 thunderbolt, 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 enveloped 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 rushing come.-
Scarce could they hear 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
Long looked the anxious squires; their eye
Could in the darkness nought descry.
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 plumed 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 Huntly, 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 sank among the foes.
Then Eustace mounted too—yet stayed,
As loth to leave the helpless maid,
When, fast as shaft can fly,
Bloodshot 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 haste, Then plunged into the fight.
Ask me not what the maiden feels,
Left in that dreadful hour alone : Perchance her reason stoops or reels;
Perchance a courage, not her own,
Braces her mind to desperate tone. The scattered van of England wheels;
She only said, as loud in air
The tumult roared, “Is Wilton there?”
They fly, or maddened by despair,
Fight but to die." Is Wilton there ?"
With that, straight up the hill there rode
Two horsemen drenched with gore,
And in their arms a helpless load,
A wounded knight they bore. His hand still strained the broken brand; His arms were smeared with blood, and sand; Dragged from among the horses' foet, With dinted shield, and helmet beat, The falcon crest and plumage gone,