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A Ballad Of Evesham



August 4: 1265

Earl Simon on the Abbey tower
In summer sunshine stood,
While helm and lance o'er Greenhill heights
Come glinting through the wood.
'My son!' he cried, 'I know his flag
Amongst a thousand glancing':--
Fond father! no!--'tis Edward stern
In royal strength advancing.

The Prince fell on him like a hawk
At Al'ster yester-eve,
And flaunts his captured banner now
And flaunts but to deceive:--
--Look round! for Mortimer is by,
And guards the rearward river:--
The hour that parted sire and son
Has parted them for ever!

'Young Simon's dead,' he thinks, and look'd
Upon his living son:
'Now God have mercy on our souls,
Our bodies are undone!
But, Hugh and Henry, ye can fly
Before their bowmen smite us--
They come on well! But 'tis from me
They learn'd the skill to fight us.'

--'For England's cause, and England's laws,
With you we fight and fall!'
--'Together, then, and die like men,
And Heaven has room for all!'
--Then, face to face, and limb to limb,
And sword with sword inwoven,
That stubborn courage of the race
On Evesham field was proven

O happy hills! O summer sky
Above the valley bent!
Your peacefulness rebukes the rage
Of blood on blood intent!
No thought was then for death or life
Through that long dreadful hour,
While Simon 'mid his faithful few
Stood like an iron tower,

'Gainst which the winds and waves are hurl'd
In vain, unmoved, foursquare;
And round him raged the insatiate swords
Of Edward and De Clare:
And round him in the narrow combe
His white-cross comrades rally,
While ghastly gashings, cloud the beck
And crimson all the valley,

And triple sword-thrusts meet his sword,
And thrice the charge he foils,
Though now in threefold flood the foe
Round those devoted boils:
And still the light of England's cause
And England's love was o'er him,
Until he saw his gallant boy
Go down in blood before him:--

He hove his huge two-handed blade,
He cried ''Tis time to die!'
And smote around him like a flail,
And clear'd a space to lie:--
'Thank God!'--no more;--nor now could life
From loved and lost divide him:--
And night fell o'er De Montfort dead,
And England wept beside him.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Francis Turner Palgrave

Francis Turner Palgrave was a British critic and poet. more…

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