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Next morn the Baron climbed the tower,
To view afar the Scottish power,
Encamped on Flodden sedge:
The white pavilions made a show,
Like remnants of the winter snow,
Along the dusky ridge.
Long Marmion looked ; —at length his eye
Unusual movement might descry,
Amid the shifting lines :
The Scottish host drawn out appears,
For, flashing on the edge of spears,
The eastern sunbeam shines.
Their front now deepening, now extending;
Their flank inclining, wheeling, bending,
Now drawing back, and now descending,
The skilful Marmion well could know,
They watched the motions of some foe,
Who traversed on the plain below.
Even so it was ;--from Flodden ridge
The Scots beheld the English host
Leave Barmore-wood, their evening post,
And heedful watched them as they crossed
The Till by Twisel bridge.
High sight it is, and haughty, while
They dive into the deep defile;
Beneath the caverned cliff they fall,
Beneath the castle's airy wall.
By rock, by oak, by hawthorn tree, Troop after troop are disappearing;
Troop after troop their banners rearing,
Upon the eastern bank you see.
Still pouring down the rocky den,
Where flows the sullen Till,
And rising from the dim-wood glen,
Standards on standards, men on men,
In slow succession still,
And sweeping o'er the Gothic Arch,
And pressing on in ceaseless march,
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 ? O, 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; "thou'dst 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.
If fight King James, -as well 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 flood they view,
“The pheasant in the falcon's claw,
He scarce will yield to please a daw:
Lord Angus may the Abbot awe,
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 Herbert 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 men 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.
Hence might they see the full array
Of either host, or deadly fray;
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
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;