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Well has thy fair achievement shown, A worthy meed may thus be won; Ytene’s” oaks—beneath whose shade, Their theme the merry minstrels made, Of Ascapart, and Bevis bold, And that Red King,f who, while of old Through Boldrewood the chase he led, By his loved huntsman's arrow bled— Ytene's oaks have heard again Renewed such legendary strain; For thou hast sung, how He of Gaul, That Amadis, so famed in hall, For Oriana, foiled in fight The Necromancer's felon might; And well in modern verse hast wove Partenopex's mystic love: 1Hear then, attentive to my lay, A knightly tale of Albion's elder day.
* The new forest in Hampshire, anciently so called. # William Rufus.
Day set on Norham's castled steep,
And Tweed's fair river broad and deep,
And Cheviot's mountains lone:
The battled towers, the donjon keep,
The loop-hole grates where captives weep,
The flanking walls that round it sweep,
In yellow lustre shone.
The warriors on the turrets high,
Moving athwart the evening sky,
Seemed forms of giant height:
Their armour, as it caught the rays,
Flashed back again the western blaze,
In lines of dazzling light.
St. George's banner, broad and gay,
Now faded, as the fading ray
Less bright, and less, was flung:
The evening gale had scarce the power
To wave it on the donjon tower,
So heavily it hung.
The scouts had parted on their search,
The castle gates were barred,
Above the gloomy portal arch,
Timing his footsteps to a march,
The warder kept his guard,
... Low humming, as he paced along,
Some ancient border-gathering song.
A distant trampling sound he hears;
He looks abroad, and soon appears,
O'er Horncliff-hill a plump" of spears,
Beneath a pennon gay;
A horseman darting from the crowd,
Like lightning from a summer cloud,
Spurs on his mettled courser proud,
Before the dark array.
Beneath the sable palisade,
That closed the castle barricade,
His bugle-horn he blew;
* This word properly applies to a flight of waterfowl; but it applied, by analogy, to a body of horse.
There is a Knight of the North Country,
Which leads a lusty plump of spears.
Battle of Flodden.
The warder hasted from the wall,
And warned the Captain in the hall,
For well the blast he knew;
And joyfully that Knight did call,
To sewer, squire, and seneschal.
IV. “Now broach ye a pipe of Malvoisie, Bring pasties of the doe, And quickly make the entrance free, And bid my heralds ready be, And every minstrel sound his glee, And all our trumpets blow; And, from the platform, spare ye not To fire a noble salvo-shot: Lord Marmion waits below.”— Then to the Castle's lower ward Sped forty yeomen tall, The iron-studded gates unbarred, Raised the portcullis' ponderous guard, The lofty palisade unsparred, And let the drawbridge fall.
V. Along the bridge Lord Marmion rode, Proudly his red-roan charger trod, His helm hung at the saddle bow; Well, by his visage, you might know He was a stalworth knight, and keen, And had in many a battle been;
The scar on his brown cheek revealed
A token true of Bosworth field;
His eyebrow dark, and eye of fire,
Showed spirit proud, and prompt to ire;
Yet lines of thought upon his cheek
Did deep design and counsel speak.
His forehead, by his casque worn bare,
His thick moustache, and curly hair,
Coal-black, and grizzled here and there,
But more through toil than age;
His square-turned joints, and strength of limb,
Showed him no carpet knight so trim,
But, in close fight, a champion grim,
In camps, a leader sage.
Well was he armed from head to heel,
In mail, and plate, of Milan steel;
But his strong helm, of mighty cost,
Was all with burnished gold embossed;
Amid the plumage of the crest,
A falcon hovered on her nest,
With wings outspread, and forward breast;
E’en such a falcon, on his shield,
Soared sable in an azure field:
The golden legend bore aright,
“Who checks at me to death is dight.”
Blue was the charger's broidered rein;
Blue ribbons decked his arching mane;