Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
 
Extracts from The History of the Civil War: The Death of Talbot
By Samuel Daniel (1562–1619)
 
[From Bk. vi.]

SO much true resolution wrought in those
Who had made covenant with death before,
That their small number (scorning so great foes)
Made France most happy, that there were no more,
And Fortune doubt to whom she might dispose        5
That weary day; or unto whom restore
The glory of a conquest dearly bought,
Which scarce the conqueror could think well got.
 
For as with equal rage, and equal might,
Two adverse winds combat, with billows proud,        10
And neither yield (seas, skies maintain like fight,
Wave against wave oppos’d, and cloud to cloud);
So war both sides with obstinate despite,
With like revenge; and neither party bow’d:
Fronting each other with confounding blows,        15
No wound one sword unto the other owes.
 
Whilst Talbot (whose fresh ardour having got
A marvellous advantage of his years)
Carries his unfelt age as if forgot,
Whirling about where any need appears.        20
His hand, his eye, his wits all present wrought
The function of the glorious part he bears:
Now urging here, now cheering there, he flies;
Unlocks the thickest troops where most force lies.
 
In midst of wrath, of wounds, of blood, and death        25
There is he most, where as he may do best;
And there the closest ranks he severeth,
Drives back the stoutest powers that forward press’d,
There makes his sword his way. There laboureth
The infatigable hand that never ceas’d;        30
Scorning unto his mortal wounds to yield,
Till Death became best master of the field.
 
Then like a sturdy oak, that having long
Against the wars of fiercest winds made head,
When (with some forc’d tempestuous rage more strong        35
His down-borne top comes overmastered)
All the near bord’ring trees he stood among
Crushed with his weighty fall lie ruined:
So lay his spoils, all round about him slain,
T’ adorn his death, that could not die in vain.        40
 
On th’ other part, his most all-daring son
(Although the inexperience of his years
Made him less skill’d in what was to be done;
And yet did carry him beyond all fears),
Flying into the main battalion        45
Near to the king, amidst the chiefest peers,
With thousand wounds became at length oppress’d,
As if he scorned to die but with the best.
 
Who thus both having gained a glorious end,
Soon ended that great day; that set so red,        50
As all the purple plains that wide extend
A sad tempestuous season witnessed.
So much ado had toiling France to rend
From us the right so long inherited;
And so hard went we from what we possessed,        55
As with it went the blood we loved best.
 
Which blood not lost, but fast laid up with heed
In everlasting fame, is there held dear
To seal the memory of this day’s deed;
Th’ eternal evidence of what we were:        60
To which our fathers, we, and who succeed,
Do owe a sigh, for that it touched us near;
Nor must we sin so much as to neglect
The holy thought of such a dear respect.
 
 
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