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The Civil Wars (excerpts)

The swift approach and unexpected speed
The king had made upon this new-rais'd force,
In the unconfirmed troops, much fear did breed,
Untimely hind'ring their intended course.
The joining with the Welsh they had decreed
Was hereby dash'd; which made their cause the worse.
Northumberland, with forces from the north,
Expected to be there, was not set forth.

And yet undaunted Hotspur, seeing the king
So near arriv'd, leaving the work in hand,
With forward speed his forces marshalling,
Sets forth his farther coming to withstand.
And with a cheerful voice encouraging
His well experienc'd and adventurous band,
Brings on his army, eager unto fight;
And plac'd the same before the king in sight.


"This day," saith he, "my valiant trusty friends,
Whatever it doth give, shall glory give;
This day, with honour, frees our state, or ends
Our misery with fame, that still shall live.
And do but think, how well the same he spends,
Who spends his blood, his country to relieve.
What? have we hands, and shall we servile be?
Why were swords made, but to preserve men free.


"Besides, the assured hope of victory
Which we may even promise on our side,
Against this weak constrained company,
Whom force and fear, not will and love doth guide,
Against a prince, whose foul impiety
The heavens do hate, the earth cannot abide:
Our number being no less, our courage more,
No doubt we have it, if we work therefore."


This said, and thus resolv'd, even bent to charge
Upon the king; who well their order view'd,
And wary noted all the course at large
Of their proceeding, and their multitude,
And deeming better, if he could discharge
The day with safety, and some peace conclude,
Great proffers sends of pardon and of grace
If they would yield, and quietness embrace.


Which though his fears might drive him to propose,
To time his business, for some other end;
Yet, sure, he could not mean t' have peace with those
Who did in that supreme degree offend.
Nor were they such, as would be won with shows;
Or breath of oaths, or vows could apprehend:
So that in honour the offers he doth make,
Were not for him to give nor them to take.


And yet this much his courses do approve,
He was not bloody in his natural;
And yield he did to more then might behove
His dignity to have dispens'd withal:
And, unto Worcester, he himself did move
A reconcilement to be made of all:
But Worcester, knowing it could not be secur'd,
His nephews onset, yet for all, procur'd.


Which seeing, the king, with greater wrath incens'd,
Rage, against fury, doth with speed prepare.
"And though," said he, "I could have well dispens'd
With this day's blood, which I have sought to spare;
That greater glory might have recompens'd
The forward worth of these, that so much dare;
That we might good have had by th' overthrown,
And the wounds we make might not have been our own:


"Yet, since that other men's iniquity
Calls on the sword of wrath, against my will;
And that themselves exact this cruelty,
And I constrained am this blood to spill;
Then on, brave followers, on courageously,
True-hearted subjects, against traitors ill;
And spare not them, who seek to spoil us all
Whose foul confused end, soon see you shall."


Forthwith, began these fury-moving sounds,
The notes of wrath, the music brought from Hell,
The rattling drums, which trumpets voice confounds
The cries, the encouragements, the shouting shrill;
That, all about, the beaten air rebounds
Confused thundering-murmurs horrible;
To rob all sense, except the sense to fight.
Well hands may work; the mind hath lost his sight.


O war! begot in pride and luxury,
The child of malice, and revengeful hate;
Thou impious good, and good impiety,
That art the foul refiner of a state;
Unjust-just scourge of men's iniquity,
Sharp-easer of corruptions desperate;
Is there no means but that a sin-sick land
Must be let blood with such a boisterous hand?


How well mightst thou have here been spar'd this day,
Had not wrong-counsell'd Percy been perverse?
Whose forward hand, inur'd to wounds, makes way
Upon the sha
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

3:39 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 4,206
Words 716
Stanzas 12
Stanza Lengths 9, 9, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 4

Samuel Daniel

Samuel Daniel was an English poet and historian. more…

All Samuel Daniel poems | Samuel Daniel Books

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