The Banner of Five Byzants

Letitia Elizabeth Landon was an English poet. Born 14th August 1802 at 25 Hans Place, Chelsea, she lived through the most productive period of her life nearby, at No.22. A precocious child with a natural gift for poetry, she was driven by the financial needs of her family to become a professional w…

St. George for merrie England !
Fling our banner to the breeze ;
That flag is borne to sweep the shore,
As it has swept the seas.

St. George for merrie England !
Our step is on the land,
Oh France ! thy sun is wrong to shine
On English battle-brand.

The pennons float o'er gallant ranks,
With heart and eye of flame :
Some ride to win their lady's grace ;
Some for a warrior's name.

I wear no colours in my cap,
And little do I care,
When monkish chronicles are writ,
Though my name be not there.

I will not fight for lady's love,
Life is a price too high ;
I will not shed my blood for what
A few soft words will buy.

And still less reck I of the fame
For which the madman bleeds ;
'Tis but a record on the page,
One of a thousand reads.

See, yonder sweeps my pennon brave,
With byzants scattered o'er
But sparingly, — they were my last —
Now I must fight for more.

I love the festal hall, where smiles
Light up the purple wine ;
And ever to win entrance there,
Or gold or steel must shine.

My banner, with its red byzants,
Points out the soldier's way —
On, on ! that golden crest must be,
The foremost in the fray !

The subject of this ballad is taken from an account of a young knight, Allan le Zouch, at the seige (sic) of Caerlaverock, who bore a banner set with five byzants.