Battle Of Hastings - II

Thomas Chatterton 1752 (Bristol) – 1770 (Holborn)

OH Truth! immortal daughter of the skies,
Too lyttle known to wryters of these daies,
Teach me, fayre Saincte! hy passynge worthe to pryze,
To blame a friend and give a foeman prayse.
The fickle moone, bedeckt wythe sylver rays,
Leadynge a traine of starres of feeble lyghte,
With look adigne the worlde belowe surveies,
The world, that wotted not it coud be nyghte;
Wyth armour dyd, with human gore ydeyd,
The sees Kynge Harolde stande, fayre Englands curse and pryde.
With ale and vernage drunk his souldiers lay;
Here was an hynde, anie an erlie spredde;
Sad keepynge of their leaders natal daie!
This even in drinke, toomorrow with the dead!
Thro' everie troope disorder reer'd her hedde;
Dancynge and heideignes was the onlie theme;
Sad dome was theires, who lefte this easie bedde,
And wak'd in torments from so sweet a dream.
Duke Williams menne, of comeing dethe afraide,
All nyghte to the great Godde for succour askd and praied.
Thus Harolde to his wites that stoode arounde;
Goe, Gyrthe and Eilward, take bills halfe a score,
And search how farre our foeman's campe doth bound;
Yourself have rede; I nede to saie ne more.
My brother best belov'd of anie ore,
My Leofwinus, goe to everich wite,
Tell them to raunge the battel to the grore,
And waiten tyll I sende the hest for fyghte.
He saide; the loieaul broders lefte the place,
Success and cheerfulness depicted on ech face.
Slowelie brave Gyrthe and Eilwarde dyd advaunce,
And markd wyth care the armies dystant syde,
When the dyre clatterynge of the shielde and launce
Made them to be by Hugh Fitzhugh espyd.
He lyfted up his voice, and lowdlie cryd;
Like wolfs in wintere did the Normanne yell
Girthe drew hys swerde, and cutte hys burled hyde;
The proto-slene manne of the fielde he felle;
Out streemd the bloude, and ran in smokynge curles,
Reflected bie the moone seemd rubies mixt wyth pearles.
A troope of Normannes from the mass-songe came,
Rousd from their praiers by the flotting crie;
Thoughe Girthe and Ailwardus perceevd the same,
Not once theie stoode abashd, or thoghte to flie.
He seizd a bill, to conquer or to die;
Fierce as a clevis from a rocke ytorne,
That makes a vallie wheresoe're it lie;
Fierce as a ryver burstynge from the borne;
So fiercelie Gyrthe hitte Fitz du Gore a blowe,
And on the verdaunt playne he layde the champyone lowe.
Tancarville thus; alle peace in Williams name;
Let none edraw his arcublaster bowe.
Girthe cas'd his weppone, as he hearde the same,
And vengynge Normannes staid the flyinge floe.
The sire wente onne; ye menne, what mean ye so
Thus unprovokd to courte a bloudie fyghte?
Quod Gyrthe; oure meanynge we ne care to showe,
Nor dread thy duke wyth all his men of myghte;
Here single onlie these to all thie crewe
Shall shewe what Englysh handes and heartes can doe.
Seek not for bloude, Tancarville calme replyd,
Nor joie in dethe, lyke madmen most distraught;
In peace and mercy is a Chrystians pryde;
He that dothe contestes pryze is in a faulte.
And now the news was to Duke William brought,
That men of Haroldes armie taken were;
For theyre good cheere all caties were enthoughte,
And Gyrthe and Eilwardus enjoi'd goode cheere.
Quod Willyam; thus shall Willyam be founde
A friend to everie manne that treades on English ground.
Erle Leofwinus throwghe the campe ypass'd,
And sawe bothe men and erlies on the grounde;
They slepte, as thoughe they woulde have slepte theyr last,
And hadd alreadie felte theyr fatale wounde.
He started back; and was wyth shame astownd;
Loked wanne wyth anger, and he shooke wyth rage;
When throughe the hollow tentes these wordes dyd sound,
Rowse from your sleepe, detratours of the age!
Was it for thys the stoute Norwegian bledde?
Awake, ye huscarles, now, or waken wyth the dead.
As when the shepster in the shadie bowre
In jintle slumbers chase the heat of daie,
Hears doublyng echoe wind the wolfins rore,
That neare hys flocke is watchynge for a praie,
He tremblynge for his sheep drives dreeme awaie,
Gripes faste hys burled croke, and sore adradde
Wyth fleeting strides he hastens to the fraie,
And rage and prowess fyres the coistrell lad;
With trustie talbots to the battel flies,
And yell of men and dogs and wolfins tear the skies.
Such was the dire confusion of eche wite,
That rose from sleep and walsome power of wine;
Theie thoughte the foe by trechit yn the nyghte
Had broke theyr camp and gotten paste the line;
Now here now there the burnysht sheeldes and byll-spear shine;
Throwote the campe a wild confusionne spredde;
Eche bracd hys
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Thomas Chatterton

Thomas Chatterton was an English poet and forger of pseudo-medieval poetry. He committed suicide, dying of arsenic poisoning. His works and death were much discussed posthumously and had an influence on the Romantic movement. more…

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"Battle Of Hastings - II" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 13 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/36205/battle-of-hastings---ii>.

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