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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 air.
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 Huntley, and with Home.
XXVII. 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-
Igallop 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 larger-
The rescued banner rose,
But darkly closed the war around,
Like pine-tree, rooted from the ground,
It sunk among the foes.
Then Eustace mounted too;-yet staid,
As loath to leave the helpless maid,
When, fast as shaft can fly,
Blood-shot 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.
XXIX. Ask me not what the maidenfeels, 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 2" They fly, or, maddened by despair, Fight but to die—“Is Wilton there 2'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' feet, With dinted shield, and helmet beat, The falcon crest and plumage gone, Can that be haughty Marmion — Young Blount his armour did unlace, And, gazing on his ghastly face, Said—“By Saint George, he's gone : That spear wound has our master sped; And see the deep cut on his head! Good night to Marmion.” “Unnurtured Blount! thy brawling cease: He opes his eyes,” said Eustace; “peace!”
When, doffed his casque, he felt free air,
Around 'gan Marmion wildly stare:
“Where's Harry Blount? Fitz-Eustace where?
Linger ye here, ye hearts of hare!
Redeem my pennon, charge again!
Cry—‘Marmion to the rescue!’—Vain!
Last of my race on battle-plain
That shout shall ne'er be heard again!—
Yet my last thought is England's:-fly,
To Dacre bear my signet-ring;
Tell him his squadrons up to bring.—
Fitz-Eustace to Lord Surrey hie:
Tunstall lies dead upon the field;
His life-blood stains the spotless shield:
Edmund is down;–my life is reft;-
The Admiral alone is left.
Let Stanley charge with spur of fire,
With Chester charge, and Lancashire,
Full upon Scotland's central host,
Or victory and England's lost.—
Must I bid twice —hence, varlets! fly?
Leave Marmion here alone—to die.”—
They parted, and alone he lay;
Clare drew her from the sight away,
Till pain wrung forth a lowly moan,
And half he murmured,—“Is there none,
Of all my halls have nurst,
Page, squire, or groom, one cup to bring
Of blessed water, from the spring,
To slake my dying thirst!”—