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In vain for Constance is your zeal;
She - died at Holy Isle.'
Lord Marmion started from the ground
As light as if he felt no wound,
Though in the action burst the tide
In torrents from his wounded side.
“Then it was truth,' he said — 'I knew
That the dark presage must be true.
I would the Fiend, to whom belongs
The vengeance due to all her wrongs,
Would spare me but a day!
For wasting fire, and dying groan,
And priests slain on the altar stone,
Might bribe him for delay.
this dizzy trance
Curse on yon base marauder's lance,
And doubly cursed my failing brand!
A sinful heart makes feeble hand.'
Then fainting down on earth he sunk,
Supported by the trembling monk.
With fruitless labour Clara bound
And strove to staunch the gushing wound;
The monk with unavailing cares
Exhausted all the Church's prayers.
Ever, he said, that, close and near,
A lady's voice was in his ear,
And that the priest he could not hear;
For that she ever sung, 'In the lost battle, borne down by the flying, Where mingles war's rottle with groans of the dying/'
So the notes rung.
*Avoid thee, Fiend! — with cruel hand
Shake not the dying sinner's sand!
Oh! look, my son, upon yon sign
Of the Redeemer's grace divine;
Oh! think on faith and bliss!
By many a death-bed I have been,
And many a sinner's parting seen,
But never aught like this.'
The war, that for a space did fail,
Now trebly thundering swelled the gale,
And 'Stanley!' was the cry.
A light on Marmion's visage spread,
And fired his glazing eye;
With dying hand above his head
He shook the fragment of his blade,
And shouted Victory! —
Charge, Chester, charge! On, Stanley, on!'
Were the last words of Marmion,
By this, though deep the evening fell,
Still rose the battle's deadly swell,
For still the Scots around their king,
Unbroken, fought in desperate ring.
Where's now their victor vaward wing,
Where Huntly, and where Home?
Oh! for a blast of that dread horn,
On Fontarabian echoes borne,
That to King Charles did come, When Rowland brave, and Olivier, And every paladin and peer,
On Roncesvalles died!
Such blasts might warn them, not in vain,
To quit the plunder of the slain
And turn the doubtful day again,
While yet on Flodden side
Afar the Royal Standard flies,
And round it toils and bleeds and dies
Our Caledonian pride!
In vain the wish
- for far away, While spoil and havoc mark their way, Near Sibyl's Cross the plunderers stray. 'O lady,' cried the monk, 'away!'
And placed her on her steed, And led her to the chapel fair
Of Tilmouth upon Tweed.
There all the night they spent in prayer,
And at the dawn of morning there
She met her kinsman, Lord Fitz-Clare.
But as they left the darkening heath
More desperate grew the strife of death.
The English shafts in volleys hailed,
In headlong charge their horse assailed;
Front, flank, and rear, the squadrons sweep
To break the Scottish circle deep
That fought around their king.
But yet, though thick the shafts as snow,
Though charging knights like whirlwinds go,
Though billmen ply the ghastly blow,
Unbroken was the ring;
The stubborn spearmen still made good
Their dark impenetrable wood,
Each stepping where his comrade stood
The instant that he fell.
No thought was there of dastard flight;
Linked in the serried phalanx tight,
Groom fought like noble, squire like knight,
As fearlessly and well,
Till utter darkness closed her wing
O'er their thin host and wounded king.
Then skilful Surrey's sage commands
Led back from strife his shattered bands;
And from the charge they drew,
As mountain-waves from wasted lands
Sweep back to ocean blue.
Then did their loss his foemen know;
Their king, their lords, their mightiest low,
They melted from the field, as snow,
When streams are swoln and southwinds blow,
Dissolves in silent dew.
Tweed's echoes heard the ceaseless plash,
While many a broken band
Disordered through her currents dash,
To gain the Scottish land;
To town and tower, to down and dale,
To tell red Flodden's dismal tale,
And raise the universal wail.
Tradition, legend, tune, and song
Shall many an age that wail prolong;.
Still from the sire the son shall hear
Of the stern strife and carnage drear
Of Flodden's fatal field,
Where shivered was fair Scotland's spear
And broken was her shield!