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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

Eclogue: Robert and Raufe

Thomas Chatterton (1752–1770)

WHEN England, smoking from her deadly wound,

From her galled neck did pluck the chain away,

Knowing her lawful sons fall all around,

(Mighty they fell, ’twas honour led the fray);

Then in a dale, by eve’s dark mantle gray,

Two lonely shepherds did abrodden fly,

(The rustling leaf doth their white hearts affray),

And with the owlet trembled and did cry;

First Robert Neatherd his sore bosom stroke,

Then fell upon the ground and thus y-spoke.

Rob.Ah, Raufe! if thus the hours do come along,

If thus we fly in chase of farther woe,

Our foot will fail; albeit we be strong,

Nor will our pace swift as our danger go.

To our great wrongs we have enhepèd moe.

The Barons’ war! Oh, woe and well-a-day!

I haveth life, but have escapèd so,

That life itself my senses do affray.

Oh Raufe, come list, and hear my dernie tale,

Come hear the baleful doom of Robin of the Dale.

Raufe.Say to me naught; I know thy woe in mine.

Oh! I’ve a tale that Sabalus might tell.

Sweet flowerets, mantled meadows, forests digne;

Gravots, far-seen, around the hermit’s cell,

The sweet ribible sounding in the dell,

The joyous dancing in the hoastrie court;

Eke the high song and every joy, farewell!

Farewell, the very shade of fair disport;

Annoying trouble on my head do come,

Nor one kind saint to ward the aye-increasing doom.

Rob.Oh! I could wail my kingcup-deckèd mees,

My spreading flocks of sheep of lily white,

My tender applynges, and embodyde trees,

My parker’s grange, far-spreading to the sight,

My tender cows, my bullocks strong in fight,

My garden whitened with the comfreie plant,

My flower Saint-Mary shooting with the light,

My store of all the blessings heaven can grant;

I am duressèd unto sorrow’s blow,

Accustomed to the pain, will let no salt tear flow.

Raufe.Here I will abide until death do ’pear,

Here, like a foul empoisoned deadly tree,

Which slayeth every one that cometh near,

So will I, fixèd unto this place, gre.

I to lament haveth more cause than thee;

Slain in the war my much-loved father lies;

Oh! joyous I his murderer would slea,

And by his side for aye enclose mine eyes.

Cast out from every joy, here will I bleed,

Fed is the ’cullis-gate of my heart’s castle-stead.

Rob.Our woes alike, alike our fate shall be.

My son, my only son, y-storven is;

Here will I stay, and end my life with thee;

A life like mine a burden is, I wis.

Now from e’en lodges fled is happiness,

Minsters alone can boast the holy saint.

Now doeth England wear a bloody dress,

And with her champions’ gore her face depeyncte,

Peace fled, disorder sheweth her dark rode,

And thórough air doth fly, in garments stained with blood.