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William Blake (1757–1827).  The Poetical Works.  1908.
 
Poetical Sketches
King Edward the Third
 
        
PERSONS.
King Edward.    Lord Audley.
The Black Prince.    Lord Percy.
Queen Philippa.    Bishop.
Duke of Clarence.    William, Dagworth’s Man.
Sir John Chandos.  
Sir Thomas Dagworth.    Peter Blunt, a common Soldier.
Sir Walter Manny.  


SCENE.
The Coast of France. King Edward and Nobles before it. The Army.

  King.  O THOU, to whose fury the nations are
But as dust, maintain thy servant’s right!
Without thine aid, the twisted mail, and spear,
And forgèd helm, and shield of seven-times beaten brass,
Are idle trophies of the vanquisher.        5
When confusion rages, when the field is in a flame,
When the cries of blood tear horror from heav’n,
And yelling Death runs up and down the ranks,
Let Liberty, the charter’d right of Englishmen,
Won by our fathers in many a glorious field,        10
Enerve my soldiers; let Liberty
Blaze in each countenance, and fire the battle.
The enemy fight in chains, invisible chains, but heavy;
Their minds are fetter’d, then how can they be free?
While, like the mounting flame,        15
We spring to battle o’er the floods of death!
And these fair youths, the flow’r of England,
Venturing their lives in my most righteous cause,
O sheathe their hearts with triple steel, that they
May emulate their fathers’ virtues.        20
And thou, my son, be strong; thou fightest for a crown
That death can never ravish from thy brow,
A crown of glory—but from thy very dust
Shall beam a radiance, to fire the breasts
Of youth unborn! Our names are written equal        25
In fame’s wide-trophied hall; ’tis ours to gild
The letters, and to make them shine with gold
That never tarnishes: whether Third Edward,
Or the Prince of Wales, or Montacute, or Mortimer,
Or ev’n the least by birth, shall gain the brightest fame,        30
Is in His hand to whom all men are equal.
The world of men are like the num’rous stars
That beam and twinkle in the depth of night,
Each clad in glory according to his sphere;
But we, that wander from our native seats        35
And beam forth lustre on a darkling world,
Grow larger as we advance: and some, perhaps
The most obscure at home, that scarce were seen
To twinkle in their sphere, may so advance
That the astonish’d world, with upturn’d eyes,        40
Regardless of the moon, and those that once were bright,
Stand only for to gaze upon their splendour.
    [He here knights the Prince, and other young Nobles.
Now let us take a just revenge for those
Brave Lords, who fell beneath the bloody axe
At Paris. Thanks, noble Harcourt, for ’twas        45
By your advice we landed here in Brittany,
A country not yet sown with destruction,
And where the fiery whirlwind of swift war
Has not yet swept its desolating wing.—
Into three parties we divide by day,        50
And separate march, but join again at night;
Each knows his rank, and Heav’n marshal all.    [Exeunt.
 
    SCENE.  English Court. Lionel, Duke of Clarence; Queen Philippa; Lords; Bishop, &c.

  Clarence.  My Lords, I have by the advice of her
Whom I am doubly bound to obey, my Parent
And my Sovereign, call’d you together.        55
My task is great, my burden heavier than
My unfledg’d years;
Yet, with your kind assistance, Lords, I hope
England shall dwell in peace; that, while my father
Toils in his wars, and turns his eyes on this        60
His native shore, and sees commerce fly round
With his white wings, and sees his golden London
And her silver Thames, throng’d with shining spires
And corded ships, her merchants buzzing round
Like summer bees, and all the golden cities        65
In his land overflowing with honey,
Glory may not be dimm’d with clouds of care.
Say, Lords, should not our thoughts be first to commerce?
My Lord Bishop, you would recommend us agriculture?
  Bishop.  Sweet Prince, the arts of peace are great,        70
And no less glorious than those of war,
Perhaps more glorious in the philosophic mind.
When I sit at my home, a private man,
My thoughts are on my gardens and my fields,
How to employ the hand that lacketh bread.        75
If Industry is in my diocese,
Religion will flourish; each man’s heart
Is cultivated and will bring forth fruit:
This is my private duty and my Pleasure.
But, as I sit in council with my Prince,        80
My thoughts take in the gen’ral good of the whole,
And England is the land favour’d by Commerce;
For Commerce, tho’ the child of Agriculture,
Fosters his parent, who else must sweat and toil,
And gain but scanty fare. Then, my dear Lord,        85
Be England’s trade our care; and we, as tradesmen,
Looking to the gain of this our native land.
  Clar.  O my good Lord, true wisdom drops like honey
From your tongue, as from a worshipp’d oak.
Forgive, my Lords, my talkative youth, that speaks        90
Not merely what my narrow observation has
Pick’d up, but what I have concluded from your lessons.
Now, by the Queen’s advice, I ask your leave
To dine to-morrow with the Mayor of London:
If I obtain your leave, I have another boon        95
To ask, which is the favour of your company.
I fear Lord Percy will not give me leave.
  Percy.  Dear Sir, a prince should always keep his state,
And grant his favours with a sparing hand,
Or they are never rightly valuèd.        100
These are my thoughts; yet it were best to go
But keep a proper dignity, for now
You represent the sacred person of
Your father; ’tis with princes as ’tis with the sun;
If not sometimes o’er-clouded, we grow weary        105
Of his officious glory.
  Clar.  Then you will give me leave to shine sometimes,
My Lord?
  Lord.  Thou hast a gallant spirit, which I fear
Will be imposèd on by the closer sort.    [Aside.        110
  Clar.  Well, I’ll endeavour to take
Lord Percy’s advice; I have been usèd so much
To dignity that I’m sick on ’t.
  Queen Phil.  Fie, fie, Lord Clarence! You proceed not to business,
But speak of your own pleasures.        115
I hope their Lordships will excuse your giddiness.
  Clar.  My Lords, the French have fitted out many
Small ships of war, that, like to ravening wolves,
Infest our English seas, devouring all
Our burden’d vessels, spoiling our naval flocks.        120
The merchants do complain and beg our aid.
  Percy.  The merchants are rich enough;
Can they not help themselves?
  Bish.  They can, and may; but how to gain their will
Requires our countenance and help.        125
  Percy.  When that they find they must, my Lord, they will:
Let them but suffer awhile, and you shall see
They will bestir themselves.
  Bish.  Lord Percy cannot mean that we should suffer
This disgrace: if so, we are not sovereigns        130
Of the sea—our right, that Heaven gave
To England, when at the birth of nature
She was seated in the deep; the Ocean ceas’d
His mighty roar, and fawning play’d around
Her snowy feet, and own’d his awful Queen.        135
Lord Percy, if the heart is sick, the head
Must be aggriev’d; if but one member suffer,
The heart doth fail. You say, my Lord, the merchants
Can, if they will, defend themselves against
These rovers: this is a noble scheme,        140
Worthy the brave Lord Percy, and as worthy
His generous aid to put it into practice.
  Percy.  Lord Bishop, what was rash in me is wise
In you; I dare not own the plan. ’Tis not
Mine. Yet will I, if you please,        145
Quickly to the Lord Mayor, and work him onward
To this most glorious voyage; on which cast
I’ll set my whole estate,
But we will bring these Gallic rovers under.
  Queen Phil.  Thanks, brave Lord Percy; you have the thanks        150
Of England’s Queen, and will, ere long, of England.    [Exeunt.
 
    SCENE.  At Cressy. Sir Thomas Dagworth and Lord Audley meeting.

  Audley.  Good morrow, brave Sir Thomas; the bright morn
Smiles on our army, and the gallant sun
Springs from the hills like a young hero
Into the battle, shaking his golden locks        155
Exultingly: this is a promising day.
  Dagworth.  Why, my Lord Audley, I don’t know.
Give me your hand, and now I’ll tell you what
I think you do not know. Edward’s afraid of Philip.
  Audley.  Ha! Ha! Sir Thomas! you but joke;        160
Did you e’er see him fear? At Blanchetaque,
When almost singly he drove six thousand
French from the ford, did he fear then?
  Dagw.  Yes, fear—that made him fight so.
  Aud.  By the same reason I might say tis fear        165
That makes you fight.
  Dagw.  Mayhap you may: look upon Edward’s face,
No one can say he fears; but when he turns
His back, then I will say it to his face;
He is afraid: he makes us all afraid.        170
I cannot bear the enemy at my back.
Now here we are at Cressy; where to-morrow,
To-morrow we shall know. I say, Lord Audley,
That Edward runs away from Philip.
  Aud.  Perhaps you think the Prince too is afraid?        175
  Dagw.  No; God forbid! I’m sure he is not.
He is a young lion. O! I have seen him fight
And give command, and lightning has flashèd
From his eyes across the field: I have seen him
Shake hands with death, and strike a bargain for        180
The enemy: he has danc’d in the field
Of battle, like the youth at morris-play.
I’m sure he’s not afraid, nor Warwick, nor none—
None of us but me, and I am very much afraid.
  Aud.  Are you afraid too, Sir Thomas?        185
I believe that as much as I believe
The King’s afraid: but what are you afraid of?
  Dagw.  Of having my back laid open; we turn
Our backs to the fire, till we shall burn our skirts.
  Aud.  And this, Sir Thomas, you call fear? Your fear        190
Is of a different kind then from the King’s;
He fears to turn his face, and you to turn your back.
I do not think, Sir Thomas, you know what fear is.
 
Enter Sir John Chandos.

  Chand.  Good morrow, Generals; I give you joy:
Welcome to the fields of Gressy. Here we stop,        195
And wait for Philip.
  Dagw.  I hope so.
  Aud.  There, Sir Thomas, do you call that fear?
  Dagw.  I don’t know; perhaps he takes it by fits.
Why, noble Chandos, look you here—        200
One rotten sheep spoils the whole flock;
And if the bell-wether is tainted, I wish
The Prince may not catch the distemper too.
  Chand.  Distemper, Sir Thomas! what distemper?
I have not heard.        205
  Dagw.  Why, Chandos, you are a wise man,
I know you understand me; a distemper
The King caught here in France of running away.
  Aud.  Sir Thomas, you say you have caught it too.
  Dagw.  And so will the whole army; ’tis very catching,        210
For, when the coward runs, the brave man totters.
Perhaps the air of the country is the cause.
I feel it coming upon me, so I strive against it;
You yet are whole; but, after a few more
Retreats, we all shall know how to retreat        215
Better than fight.—To be plain, I think retreating.
Too often takes away a soldier’s courage.
  Chand.  Here comes the King himself: tell him your thoughts
Plainly, Sir Thomas.
  Dagw.  I’ve told him before, but his disorder        220
Makes him deaf.
 
Enter King Edward and Black Prince.

  King.  Good morrow, Generals; when English courage fails,
Down goes our right to France.
But we are conquerors everywhere; nothing
Can stand our soldiers; each man is worthy        225
Of a triumph. Such an army of heroes
Ne’er shouted to the Heav’ns, nor shook the field.
Edward, my son, thou art
Most happy, having such command: the man
Were base who were not fir’d to deeds        230
Above heroic, having such examples.
  Prince.  Sire, with respect and deference I look
Upon such noble souls, and wish myself
Worthy the high command that Heaven and you
Have given me. When I have seen the field glow,        235
And in each countenance the soul of war
Curb’d by the manliest reason, I have been wing’d
With certain victory; and ’tis my boast,
And shall be still my glory, I was inspir’d
By these brave troops.        240
  Dagw.  Your Grace had better make
Them all generals.
  King.  Sir Thomas Dagworth, you must have your joke,
And shall, while you can fight as you did at
The Ford.        245
  Dagw.  I have a small petition to your Majesty.
  King.  What can Sir Thomas Dagworth ask that Edward
Can refuse?
  Dagw.  I hope your Majesty cannot refuse so great
A trifle; I’ve gilt your cause with my best blood,        250
And would again, were I not forbid
By him whom I am bound to obey: my hands
Are tièd up, my courage shrunk and wither’d,
My sinews slacken’d, and my voice scarce heard;
Therefore I beg I may return to England.        255
  King.  I know not what you could have ask’d, Sir Thomas,
That I would not have sooner parted with
Than such a soldier as you have been, and such a friend:
Nay, I will know the most remote particulars
Of this your strange petition: that, if I can,        260
I still may keep you here.
  Dagw.  Here on the fields of Cressy we are settled
Till Philip springs the tim’rous covey again.
The wolf is hunted down by causeless fear;
The lion flees, and fear usurps his heart,        265
Startled, astonish’d at the clam’rous cock;
The eagle, that doth gaze upon the sun,
Fears the small fire that plays about the fen.
If, at this moment of their idle fear,
The dog doth seize the wolf, the forester the lion,        270
The negro in the crevice of the rock
Doth seize the soaring eagle; undone by flight,
They tame submit: such the effect flight has
On noble souls. Now hear its opposite:
The tim’rous stag starts from the thicket wild,        275
The fearful crane springs from the splashy fen,
The shining snake glides o’er the bending grass;
The stag turns head and bays the crying hounds,
The crane o’ertaken fighteth with the hawk,
The snake doth turn, and bite the padding foot.        280
And if your Majesty’s afraid of Philip,
You are more like a lion than a crane:
Therefore I beg I may return to England.
  King.  Sir Thomas, now I understand your mirth,
Which often plays with Wisdom for its pastime,        285
And brings good counsel from the breast of laughter.
I hope you’ll stay, and see us fight this battle,
And reap rich harvest in the fields of Cressy;
Then go to England, tell them how we fight,
And set all hearts on fire to be with us.        290
Philip is plum’d, and thinks we flee from him,
Else he would never dare to attack us. Now,
Now the quarry’s set! and Death doth sport
In the bright sunshine of this fatal day.
  Dagw.  Now my heart dances, and I am as light        295
As the young bridegroom going to be marrièd.
Now must I to my soldiers, get them ready,
Furbish our armours bright, new-plume our helms;
And we will sing like the young housewives busièd
In the dairy: my feet are wing’d, but not        300
For flight, an please your grace.
  King.  If all my soldiers are as pleas’d as you,
’Twill be a gallant thing to fight or die;
Then I can never be afraid of Philip.
  Dagw.  A raw-bon’d fellow t’other day pass’d by me;        305
I told him to put off his hungry looks—
He answer’d me, ‘I hunger for another battle.’
I saw a little Welshman with a fiery face;
I told him he look’d like a candle half
Burn’d out; he answer’d, he was ‘pig enough        310
To light another pattle.’ Last night, beneath
The moon I walk’d abroad, when all had pitch’d
Their tents, and all were still;
I heard a blooming youth singing a song
He had compos’d, and at each pause he wip’d        315
His dropping eyes. The ditty was ‘If he
Return’d victorious, he should wed a maiden
Fairer than snow, and rich as midsummer.’
Another wept, and wish’d health to his father.
I chid them both, but gave them noble hopes.        320
These are the minds that glory in the battle,
And leap and dance to hear the trumpet sound.
  King.  Sir Thomas Dagworth, be thou near our person;
Thy heart is richer than the vales of France:
I will not part with such a man as thee.        325
If Philip came arm’d in the ribs of death,
And shook his mortal dart against my head,
Thou’dst laugh his fury into nerveless shame!
Go now, for thou art suited to the work,
Throughout the camp; inflame the timorous,        330
Blow up the sluggish into ardour, and
Confirm the strong with strength, the weak inspire,
And wing their brows with hope and expectation:
Then to our tent return, and meet to council.    [Exit Dagworth.
  Chand.  That man’s a hero in his closet, and more        335
A hero to the servants of his house
Than to the gaping world; he carries windows
In that enlargèd breast of his, that all
May see what’s done within.
  Prince.  He is a genuine Englishman, my Chandos,        340
And hath the spirit of Liberty within him.
Forgive my prejudice, Sir John; I think
My Englishmen the bravest people on
The face of the earth.
  Chand.  Courage, my Lord, proceeds from self-dependence.        345
Teach man to think he’s a free agent,
Give but a slave his liberty, he’ll shake
Off sloth, and build himself a hut, and hedge
A spot of ground; this he’ll defend; ’tis his
By right of Nature: thus set in action,        350
He will still move onward to plan conveniences,
Till glory fires his breast to enlarge his castle;
While the poor slave drudges all day, in hope
To rest at night.
  King.  O Liberty, how glorious art thou!        355
I see thee hov’ring o’er my army, with
Thy wide-stretch’d plumes; I see thee
Lead them on to battle;
I see thee blow thy golden trumpet, while
Thy sons shout the strong shout of victory!        360
O noble Chandos, think thyself a gardener,
My son a vine, which I commit unto
Thy care: prune all extravagant shoots, and guide
Th’ ambitious tendrils in the paths of wisdom;
Water him with thy advice; and Heav’n        365
Rain fresh’ning dew upon his branches! And,
O Edward, my dear son! learn to think lowly of
Thyself, as we may all each prefer other—
’Tis the best policy, and ’tis our duty.    [Exit King Edward.
  Prince.  And may our duty, Chandos, be our pleasure.        370
Now we are alone, Sir John, I will unburden,
And breathe my hopes into the burning air,
Where thousand Deaths are posting up and down,
Commission’d to this fatal field of Cressy.
Methinks I see them arm my gallant soldiers,        375
And gird the sword upon each thigh, and fit
Each shining helm, and string each stubborn bow,
And dance to the neighing of our steeds.
Methinks the shout begins, the battle burns;
Methinks I see them perch on English crests,        380
And roar the wild flame of fierce war upon
The throngèd enemy! In truth I am too full
It is my sin to love the noise of war.
Chandos, thou seest my weakness; strong Nature
Will bend or break us: my blood, like a springtide,        385
Does rise so high to overflow all bounds
Of moderation; while Reason, in her
Frail bark, can see no shore or bound for vast
Ambition. Come, take the helm, my Chandos,
That my full-blown sails overset me not        390
In the wild tempest: condemn my venturous youth,
That plays with danger, as the innocent child
Unthinking plays upon the viper’s den:
I am a coward in my reason, Chandos.
  Chand.  You are a man, my Prince, and a brave man,        395
If I can judge of actions; but your heat
Is the effect of youth, and want of use:
Use makes the armèd field and noisy war
Pass over as a summer cloud, unregarded,
Or but expected as a thing of course.        400
Age is contemplative; each rolling year
Brings forth fruit to the mind’s treasure-house:
While vacant youth doth crave and seek about
Within itself, and findeth discontent,
Then, tir’d of thought, impatient takes the wing,        405
Seizes the fruits of time, attacks experience,
Roams round vast Nature’s forest, where no bounds
Are set, the swiftest may have room, the strongest
Find prey; till tired at length, sated and tired
With the changing sameness, old variety,        410
We sit us down, and view our former joys
With distaste and dislike.
  Prince.  Then, if we must tug for experience,
Let us not fear to beat round Nature’s wilds,
And rouse the strongest prey: then, if we fall,        415
We fall with glory. I know the wolf
Is dangerous to fight, not good for food,
Nor is the hide a comely vestment; so
We have our battle for our pains. I know
That youth has need of age to point fit prey,        420
And oft the stander-by shall steal the fruit
Of th’ other’s labour. This is philosophy;
These are the tricks of the world; but the pure soul
Shall mount on native wings, disdaining
Little sport, and cut a path into the heaven of glory,        425
Leaving a track of light for men to wonder at.
I’m glad my father does not hear me talk;
You can find friendly excuses for me, Chandos.
But do you not think, Sir John, that if it please
Th’ Almighty to stretch out my span of life,        430
I shall with pleasure view a glorious action
Which my youth master’d?
  Chand.  Considerate age, my Lord, views motives,
And not acts; when neither warbling voice
Nor trilling pipe is heard, nor pleasure sits        435
With trembling age, the voice of Conscience then,
Sweeter than music in a summer’s eve,
Shall warble round the snowy head, and keep
Sweet symphony to feather’d angels, sitting
As guardians round your chair; then shall the pulse        440
Beat slow, and taste and touch and sight and sound and smell,
That sing and dance round Reason’s fine-wrought throne,
Shall flee away, and leave them all forlorn;
Yet not forlorn if Conscience is his friend.    [Exeunt.
 
    SCENE.  In Sir Thomas Dagworth’s Tent.  Dagworth, and William his Man

  Dagw.  Bring hither my armour, William.
        445
Ambition is the growth of ev’ry clime.
  Will.  Does it grow in England, sir?
  Dagw.  Aye, it grows most in lands most cultivated,
  Will.  Then it grows most in France; the vines here are finer than any we have in England.
  Dagw.  Aye, but the oaks are not.        450
  Will.  What is the tree you mentioned? I don’t think I ever saw it.
  Dagw.  Ambition.
  Will.  Is it a little creeping root that grows in ditches?
  Dagw.  Thou dost not understand me, William.
It is a root that grows in every breast;        455
Ambition is the desire or passion that one man
Has to get before another, in any pursuit after glory;
But I don’t think you have any of it.
  Will.  Yes, I have; I have a great ambition to know every thing, Sir.
  Dagw.  But when our first ideas are wrong, what follows must all be wrong, of course; ’tis best to know a little, and to know that little aright.        460
  Will.  Then, Sir, I should be glad to know if it was not ambition that brought over our King to France to fight for his right?
  Dagw.  Tho’ the knowledge of that will not profit thee much, yet I will tell you that it was ambition.
  Will.  Then, if ambition is a sin, we are all guilty in coming with him, and in fighting for him.
  Dagw.  Now, William, thou dost thrust the question home; but I must tell you that, guilt being an act of the mind, none are guilty but those whose minds are prompted by that same ambition.
  Will.  Now, I always thought that a man might be guilty of doing wrong without knowing it was wrong.        465
  Dagw.  Thou art a natural philosopher, and knowest truth by instinct, while reason runs aground, as we have run our argument. Only remember, William, all have it in their power to know the motives of their own actions, and ’tis a sin to act without some reason.
  Will.  And whoever acts without reason may do a great deal of harm without knowing it.
  Dagw.  Thou art an endless moralist.
  Will.  Now there’s a story come into my head, that I will tell your honour if you’ll give me leave.
  Dagw.  No, William, save it till another time; this is no time for story-telling. But here comes one who is as entertaining as a good story!        470
 
Enter Peter Blunt.

  Peter.  Yonder’s a musician going to play before the King; it’s a new song about the French and English; and the Prince has made the minstrel a squire, and given him I don’t know what, and I can’t tell whether he don’t mention us all one by one; and he is to write another about all us that are to die, that we may be remembered in Old England, for all our blood and bones are in France; and a great deal more that we shall all hear by and by; and I came to tell your honour, because you love to hear warsongs.
  Dagw.  And who is this minstrel, Peter, dost know?
  Peter.  O aye, I forgot to tell that; he has got the same name as Sir John Chandos, that the Prince is always with—the wise man that knows us all as well as your honour, only ain’t so goodnatured.
  Dagw.  I thank you, peter, for your information; but not for your compliment, which is not true. There’s as much difference between him and me as between glittering sand and fruitful mould; or shining glass and a wrought diamond, set in rich gold, and fitted to the finger of an Emperor; such is that worthy Chandos.
  Peter.  I know your honour does not think anything of yourself, but everybody else does.        475
  Dagw.  Go, Peter, get you gone; flattery is delicious, even from the lips of a babbler.    [Exit Peter.
  Will.  I never flatter your honour.
  Dagw.  I don’t know that.
  Will.  Why, you know, Sir, when we were in England, at the tournament at Windsor, and the Earl of Warwick was tumbled over, you ask’d me if he did not look well when he fell; and I said no, he look’d very foolish; and you was very angry with me for not flattering you.
  Dagw.  You mean that I was angry with you for not flattering the Earl of Warwick.    [Exeunt.        480
 
    SCENE.  Sir Thomas Dagworth’s Tent.  Sir Thomas Dagworth—to him enter Sir Walter Manny.

  Sir Walter.  Sir Thomas Dagworth, I have been weeping
Over the men that are to die to-day.
  Dagw.  Why, brave Sir Walter, you or I may fall.
  Sir Walter.  I know this breathing flesh must lie and rot,
Cover’d with silence and forgetfulness.—        485
Death wons 1 in cities’ smoke, and in still night,
When men sleep in their beds, walketh about!
How many in wallèd cities lie and groan,
Turning themselves upon their beds,
Talking with Death, answering his hard demands!        490
How many walk in darkness, terrors are round
The curtains of their beds, destruction is
Ready at the door! How many sleep
In earth, cover’d with stones and deathy dust,
Resting in quietness, whose spirits walk        495
Upon the clouds of heaven, to die no more!
Yet death is terrible, tho’ borne on angels’ wings.
How terrible then is the field of Death,
Where he doth rend the vault of heaven,
And shake the gates of hell!        500
O Dagworth, France is sick! the very sky,
Tho’ sunshine light it, seems to me as pale
As the pale fainting man on his death-bed,
Whose face is shown by light of sickly taper
It makes me sad and sick at very heart,        505
Thousands must fall to-day.
  Dagw.  Thousands of souls must leave this prison-house,
To be exalted to those heavenly fields,
Where songs of triumph, palms of victory,
Where peace and joy and love and calm content        510
Sit singing in the azure clouds, and strew
Flowers of heaven’s growth over the banquet-table.
Bind ardent Hope upon your feet like shoes,
Put on the robe of preparation,
The table is prepar’d in shining heaven,        515
The flowers of immortality are blown;
Let those that fight fight in good steadfastness,
And those that fall shall rise in victory.
  Sir Walter.  I’ve often seen the burning field of war,
And often heard the dismal clang of arms;        520
But never, till this fatal day of Cressy,
Has my soul fainted with these views of death.
I seem to be in one great charnel-house,
And seem to scent the rotten carcases;
I seem to hear the dismal yells of Death,        525
While the black gore drops from his horrid jaws;
Yet I not fear the monster in his pride—
But O! the souls that are to die to-day!
  Dagw.  Stop, brave Sir Walter; let me drop a tear,
Then let the clarion of war begin;        530
I’ll fight and weep, ’tis in my country’s cause;
I’ll weep and shout for glorious liberty.
Grim War shall laugh and shout, deckèd in tears,
And blood shall flow like streams across the meadows,
That murmur down their pebbly channels, and        535
Spend their sweet lives to do their country service:
Then shall England’s verdure shoot, her fields shall smile,
Her ships shall sing across the foaming sea,
Her mariners shall use the flute and viol,
And rattling guns, and black and dreary war,        540
Shall be no more.
  Sir Walter.  Well, let the trumpet sound, and the drum beat;
Let war stain the blue heavens with bloody banners;
I’ll draw my sword, nor ever sheathe it up
Till England blow the trump of victory,        545
Or I lay stretch’d upon the field of death.    [Exeunt.
 
    SCENE.  In the Camp.  Several of the Warriors meet at the King’s Tent with a Minstrel, who sings the following Song:

O sons of Trojan Brutus, cloth’d in war,
Whose voices are the thunder of the field,
Rolling dark clouds o’er France, muffling the sun
In sickly darkness like a dim eclipse,        550
Threatening as the red brow of storms, as fire
Burning up nations in your wrath and fury!
 
Your ancestors came from the fires of Troy,
(Like lions rous’d by light’ning from their dens,
Whose eyes do glare against the stormy fires),        555
Heated with war, fill’d with the blood of Greeks,
With helmets hewn, and shields coverèd with gore,
In navies black, broken with wind and tide:
 
They landed in firm array upon the rocks
Of Albion; they kiss’d the rocky shore;        560
‘Be thou our mother and our nurse,’ they said;
‘Our children’s mother, and thou shalt be our grave,
The sepulchre of ancient Troy, from whence
Shall rise cities, and thrones, and arms, and awful pow’rs.’
 
Our fathers swarm from the ships. Giant voices        565
Are heard from the hills, the enormous sons
Of Ocean run from rocks and caves, wild men,
Naked and roaring like lions, hurling rocks,
And wielding knotty clubs, like oaks entangled
Thick as a forest, ready for the axe.        570
 
Our fathers move in firm array to battle;
The savage monsters rush like roaring fire,
Like as a forest roars with crackling flames,
When the red lightning, borne by furious storms,
Lights on some woody shore; the parchèd heavens        575
Rain fire into the molten raging sea.
 
The smoking trees are strewn upon the shore,
Spoil’d of their verdure. O how oft have they
Defy’d the storm that howlèd o’er their heads!
Our fathers, sweating, lean on their spears, and view        580
The mighty dead: giant bodies streaming blood,
Dread visages frowning in silent death.
 
Then Brutus spoke, inspir’d; our fathers sit
Attentive on the melancholy shore:
Hear ye the voice of Brutus—‘The flowing waves        585
Of time come rolling o’er my breast,’ he said;
‘And my heart labours with futurity:
Our sons shall rule the empire of the sea.
 
‘Their mighty wings shall stretch from east to west.
Their nest is in the sea, but they shall roam        590
Like eagles for the prey; nor shall the young
Crave or be heard; for plenty shall bring forth,
Cities shall sing, and vales in rich array
Shall laugh, whose fruitful laps bend down with fulness.
 
‘Our sons shall rise from thrones in joy,        595
Each one buckling on his armour; Morning
Shall be prevented by their swords gleaming,
And Evening hear their song of victory:
Their towers shall be built upon the rocks,
Their daughters shall sing, surrounded with shining spears.        600
 
‘Liberty shall stand upon the cliffs of Albion,
Casting her blue eyes over the green ocean;
Or, tow’ring, stand upon the roaring waves,
Stretching her mighty spear o’er distant lands;
While, with her eagle wings, she covereth        605
Fair Albion’s shore, and all her families.’
 
Note 1. wons] i.e. ‘dwells’, an archaism probably borrowed from Spenser. [back]
 
 
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