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William Blake (1757–1827). The Poetical Works. 1908.

Poetical Sketches

King Edward the Third

  • 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.

    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,

    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,

    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.

    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

    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,

    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

    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,

    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

    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,

    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.

    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

    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

    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,

    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.

    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,

    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,

    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

    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

    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.

    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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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

    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.

    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,

    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,

    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

    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

    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;

    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

    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.

    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?

    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

    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?

    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

    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,

    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—

    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.

    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,

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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,

    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.

    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.

    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,

    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.

    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,

    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,

    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,

    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,

    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.

    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,

    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.

    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

    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

    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;

    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

    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

    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.

    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.

    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,

    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

    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,

    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.

    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,

    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!

    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!

    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

    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.

    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,

    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,

    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,

    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

    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,

    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.

    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,

    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,

    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,

    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,

    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,

    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,

    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

    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

    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.

    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.

    Will.What is the tree you mentioned? I don’t think I ever saw it.


    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;

    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.

    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.

    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!

    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.

    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.

    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.—

    Death wons 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!

    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

    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!

    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,

    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

    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,

    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;

    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,

    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;

    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

    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,

    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,

    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,

    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),

    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;

    ‘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

    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.

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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,

    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.

    ‘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

    Fair Albion’s shore, and all her families.’