Thomas Chatterton Poems >>
Battle Of Hastings - I

O CHRYSTE, it is a grief for me to tell;
HOW manie a nobil erle and valrous knyghte
In fyghtynge for Kynge Harrold noblie fell,
Al sleyne in Hastyngs feeld in bloudie fyghte.
O sea! our teeming donore han thy floude,
Han anie fructuous entendement,
Thou wouldst have rose and sank wyth tydes of bloude,
Before Duke Wyllyam's knyghts han hither went;
Whose cowart arrows manie erles sleyne,
And brued the feeld wyth bloude as season rayne.

And of his knyghtes did eke full manie die,
All passyng hie, of mickle myghte echone,
Whose poygnant arrowes, typp'd with destynie,
Caus'd manie wydowes to make myckle mone.
Lordynges, avaunt, that chycken-harted are,
From out of hearynge quicklie now deparle;
Full well I wote, to synge of bloudie warre
Will greeve your tenderlie and mayden harte.
Go, do the weaklie womman inn mann's geare,
And scond your mansion if grymm war come there.

Soone as the erlie maten belle was tolde,
And sonne was come to byd us all good daie,
Bothe armies on the feeld, both brave and bolde,
Prepar'd for fyghte in champyon arraie.
As when two bulles, destynde for Hocktide fyghte,
Are yoked bie the necke within a sparre,
Theie rend the erthe, and travellyrs affryghte,
Lackynge to gage the sportive bloudie warre;
Soe lacked Harroldes menne to come to blowes,
The Normans lacked for to wielde their bowes.

Kynge Harrolde turnynge to hys leegemen spake;
My merrie men, be not caste downe in mynde;
Your onlie lode for aye to mar or make,
Before yon sunne has donde his welke, you'll fynde.
Your lovyng wife, who erst dyd rid the londe
Of Lurdanes, and the treasure that you han,
Wyll falle into the Normanne robber's honde,
Unlesse with honde and harte you plaie the manne.
Cheer up youre hartes, chase sorrowe farre awaie,
Godde and Seyncte Cuthbert be the worde to daie.

And thenne Duke Wyllyam to his knyghtes did saie;
My merrie menne, be bravelie everiche;
Gif I do gayn the honore of the daie,
Ech one of you I will make myckle riche.
Beer you in mynde, we for a kyngdomm fyghte;
Lordshippes and honores echone shall possesse;
Be this the worde to daie, God and my Ryghte;
Ne doubte but God will oure true cause blesse.
The clarions then sounded sharpe and shrille;
Deathdoeynge blades were out intent to kille.

And brave Kyng Harrolde had nowe donde hys saie;
He threwe wythe myghte amayne hys shorte horse-spear,
The noise it made the duke to turn awaie,
And hytt his knyghte, de Beque, upon the ear.
His cristede beaver dyd him smalle abounde;
The cruel spear went thorough all his hede;
The purpel blonde came goushynge to the ground;
And at Duke Wyllyam's feet he tumbled deade:
So fell the myghtie tower of Standrip, whenne
It felte the furie of the Danish menne.

O Afflem, son of Cuthbert, holie Sayncte,
Come ayde thy freend, and shewe Duke Wyllyams payne;
Take up thy pencyl, all hys features paincte;
Thy coloryng excells a synger strayne.
Duke Wyllyam sawe hys freende sleyne piteouslie,
Hys lovynge freende whome he muche honored,
For he han lovd hym from puerilitie,
And theie together bothe han bin ybred:
O! in Duke Wyllyam's harte it raysde a flame,
To whiche the rage of emptie wolves is tame.

He tooke a brasen crosse-bowe in his honde,
And drewe it harde with all hys myghte amein,
Ne doubtyng but the bravest in the londe
Han by his soundynge arrowe-lede bene sleyne.
Alured's stede, the fynest stede alive,
Bye comelie forme knowlached from the rest;
But nowe his destind howre did aryve,
The arrowe hyt upon his milkwhite breste.
So have I seen a ladie-smock soe white,
Blown in the mornynge, and mowd downe at night.

With thilk a force it dyd his bodie gore,
That in his tender guttes it entered,
In veritee a fulle clothe yarde or more,
And downe with flaiten noyse he sunken dede
Brave Alured, benethe his faithfull horse,
Was smeerd all over withe the gorie duste,
And on hym laie the recer's lukewarme corse,
That Alured coulde not hymself aluste.
The standyng Normans drew theyr bowe echone,
And broght full manie Englysh champyons downe.

The Normans kept aloofe, at distaunce stylle,
The Englysh nete but short horse-spears could welde;
The Englysh manie dethe-sure dartes did kille,
And manie arrowes twang'd upon the sheelde.
Kynge Haroldes knyghts desir'de for hendie stroke,
And marched furious o'er the bloudie pleyne,
In bodie close, and made the pleyne to smoke;
Theire sheelds rebounded arrowes back agayne.
The Normans stode aloof; nor hede the same,
Their arrowes woulde do dethe, tho' from far of they came.

Duke Wyllyam drewe agen hys arrowe strynge,
An arrowe withe a sylver-hede drewe he;
The arrowe dauncynge in the ayre dyd synge,
And hytt the horse of Tosselyn on the knee.
At this brave Tosslyn threwe his short horse-speare;
Duke Wyllyam stooped to avoyde the blowe;
The yrone weapon hummed in his eare,
And hitte Sir Doullie Naibor on the prowe.
Upon his helme foe surious was the stroke,
It splete his bever, and the ryvets broke.

Downe fell the beaver by Tosslyn splete in tweine,
And onn his hede expos'd a punie wounde,
But on Destoutvilles sholder came ameine,
And fell'd the champyon to the bloudie grounde.
Then Doullie myghte his bowestrynge drewe,
Enthoughte to gyve brave Tosslyn bloudie wounde,
But Harolde's asenglave stopp'd it as it flewe,
And it fell bootless on the bloudie grounde.
Siere Doullie, when he sawe hys venge thus broke,
Death-doynge blade from out the scabard toke.

And now the battail closde on everych syde,
And face to face appeard the knyghts full brave;
They lifted up theire bylles with myckle pryde,
And manie woundes unto the Normans gave.
So have I sene two weirs at once give grounde,
White fomyng hygh to rorynge combat runne;
In roaryng dyn and heaven-breaking sounde,
Burste waves on waves, and spangle in the sunne;
And when their myghte in burstynge waves is fled,
Like cowards, stele alonge their ozy bede.

Yonge Egelrede, a knyghte of comelie mien,
Affynd unto the kynge of Dynefarre,
At echone tylte and tourney he was seene,
And lov'd to be amonge the bloudie warre;
He couch'd hys launce, and ran wyth mickle myghte
Ageinste the brest of Sieur de Bonoboe;
He grond and sunken on the place of fyghte,
O Chryste! to fele his wounde, his harte was woe.
Ten thousand thoughtes push'd in upon his mynde,
Not for hymself, but those he left behynde.

He dy'd and leffed wyfe and chyldren tweine,
Whom he wyth cheryshment did dearlie love;
In England's court, in goode Kynge Edwarde's regne,
He wonne the tylte, and ware her crymson glove;
And thence unto the place where he was borne,
Together with hys welthe & better wyfe,
To Normandie he dyd perdie returne,
In peace and quietnesse to lead his lyfe;
And now with sovrayn Wyllyam he came,
To die in battel, or get welthe and fame.

Then, swefte as lyghtnynge, Egelredus set
Agaynst du Barlie of the mounten head;
In his dere hartes bloude his longe launce was wett,
And from his courser down he tumbled dede.
So have I sene a mountayne oak, that longe
Has caste his shadowe to the mountayne syde,
Brave all the wyndes, tho' ever they so stronge,
And view the briers belowe with self-taught pride;
But, whan throwne downe by mightie thunder stroke,
He'de rather bee a bryer than an oke.

Then Egelred dyd in a declynie
Hys launce uprere with all hys myghte ameine,
And strok Fitzport upon the dexter eye,
And at his pole the spear came out agayne.
Butt as he drewe it forthe, an arrowe fledde
Wyth mickle myght lent from de Tracy's bowe,
And at hys syde the arrowe entered,
And oute the crymson streme of bloude gan flowe;
In purple strekes it dyd his armer staine,
And smok'd in puddles on the dustie plaine.

But Egelred, before he sunken downe,
With all his myghte amein his spear besped,
It hytte Bertrammil Manne upon the crowne,
And bothe together quicklie sunken dede.
So have I seen a roche o'er others hang;
Who stronglie plac'd laughde at his slippry state,
But when he falls with heaven-peercynge bange
That he the sleeve unravels all theire fate,
And broken onn the beech thys lesson speak,
The stronge and firme should not defame the weake.

Howel ap Jevah came from Matraval,
Where he by chaunce han slayne a noble's son,
And now was come to fyghte at Harold's call,
And in the battel he much goode han done;
Unto Kyng Harold he foughte mickle near,
For he was yeoman of the bodie guard;
And with a targyt and a fyghtyng spear,
He of his boddie han kepte watch and ward
True as a shadow to a substant thynge,
So true he guarded Harold hys good kynge.

But when Egelred tumbled to the grounde,
He from Kynge Harolde quicklie dyd advaunce,
And strooke de Tracie thilk a crewel wounde,
Hys harte and lever came out on the launce.
And then retreted for to guarde his kynge,
On dented launce he bore the harte awaie;
An arrowe came from Auffroie Griel's strynge,
Into hys heele betwyxt hys yron staie;
The grey-goose pynion, that thereon was sett,
Eftsoons wyth stnokyng crymson blond was wett.

His bloude at this was waxen flaminge hotte,
Without adoe he turned once agayne,
And hytt de Griel thilk a blowe, God wote,
Maugre hys helm, he splete his hede in twayne.
This Auffroie was a manne of mickle pryde,
Whose featliest bewty ladden in his face;
His chaunce in warr he ne before han tryde,
But lyv'd in love and Rosaline's embrace;
And like a useless weede amonge the haie
Amonge the sleine warriours Griel laie.

Kynge Harolde then he putt his yeomen bie,
And ferslie ryd into the bloudie fyghte;
Erle Ethelwolf, and Goodrick, and Alfie,
Cuthbert, and Goddard, mical menne of myghte,
Ethelwin, Ethelbert, and Edwyn too,
Effred the famous, and Erle Ethelwarde,
Kynge Harolde's leegemenn, erlies hie and true,
Rode after hym, his bodie for to guarde;
The reste of erlies, fyghtynge other wheres,
Stained with Norman bloude theire fyghtynge speres.

As when some ryver with the season raynes
White fomynge hie doth breke the bridges oft,
Oerturns the hamelet and all conteins,
And layeth oer the hylls a muddie soft;
So Harold ranne upon his Normanne foes.
And layde the greate and small upon the grounde,
And delte among them thilke a store of blowes,
Full manie a Normanne fell by him dede wounde;
So who he be that ouphant faieries strike,
Their soules will wander to Kynge Offa's dyke.

Fitz Salnarville, Duke William's favourite knyghte,
To noble Edelwarde his life dyd yielde;
Withe hys tylte launce hee stroke with thilk a myghte,
The Norman's bowels steemde upon the feeld.
Old Salnarville beheld hys son lie ded,
Against Erle Edelward his bowe-strynge drewe;
But Harold at one blowe made tweine his head;
He dy'd before the poignant arrowe slew.
So was the hope of all the issue gone,
And in one battle fell the sire and son.

De Aubignee rod fercely thro' the fyghte,
To where the boddie of Salnarville laie;
Quod he; And art thou ded, thou manne of myghte?
I'll be revengd, or die for thee this daie.
Die then thou shalt, Erle Ethelwarde he said;
I am a cunnynge Erle, and that can tell;
Then drewe hys swerde, and ghastlie cut hys hede,
And on his freend eftsoons he lifeless fell,
Stretch'd on the bloudie pleyne; great God forefend,
It be the fate of no such trustie freende!

Then Egwin Sieur Pikeny did attaque;
He turned aboute and vilely souten flie;
But Egwyn cutt so deepe into his backe,
He rolled on the grounde and soon dyd die.
His distant sonne, Sire Romara de Biere,
Soughte to revenge his fallen kynsman's lote,
But soone Erle Cuthbert's dented fyghtyng spear
Stucke in his harte, and stayd his speed, God wote.
He tumbled downe close by hys kynsman's syde,
Myngle their stremes of pourple bloude, and dy'd.

And now an arrowe from a bowe unwote
Into Erle Cuthbert's harte eftsoons dyd flee;
Who dying sayd; ah me! how hard my lote!
Now slayne, mayhap, of one of lowe degree.
So have I seen a leafie elm of yore
Have been the pride and glorie of the pleine;
But, when the spendyng landlord is growne poore,
It falls benethe the axe of some rude sweine;
And like the oke, the sovran of the woode,
It's fallen boddie tells you how it stoode.

When Edelward perceevd Erle Cuthbert die,
On Hubert strongest of the Normanne crewe,
As wolfs when hungred on the cattel flie,
So Edelward amaine upon him slewe.
With thilk a force he hyt hym to the grounde;
And was demasing howe to take his life,
When he behynde received a ghastlie wounde
Gyven by de Torcie, with a stabbyng knyfe;
Base trecherous Normannes, if such actes you doe,
The conquer'd maie clame victorie of you.

The erlie felt de Torcie's trecherous knyfe
Han made his crymson bloude and spirits floe;
And knowlachyng he soon must quyt this lyfe,
Resolved Hubert should too with hym goe.
He held hys trustie swerd against his breste,
And down he fell, and peerc'd him to the harte;
And both together then did take their reste,
Their soules from corpses unaknell'd depart;
And both together soughte the unknown shore,
Where we shall goe, where manie's gon before.

Kynge Harolde Torcie's trechery dyd spie,
And hie alofe his temper'd swerde dyd welde,
Cut offe his arm; and made the bloude to flie,
His proofe steel armoure did him littel sheelde;
And not contente, he splete his hede in twaine,
And down he tumbled on the bloudie grounde;
Mean while the other erlies on the playne
Gave and received manie a bloudie wounde,
Such as the arts in warre han learnt with care,
But manie knyghtes were women in men's geer.

Herrewald, borne on Sarim's spreddyng plaine,
Where Thor's fam'd temple manie ages stoode;
Where Druids, auncient preests, did ryghtes ordaine,
And in the middle shed the victyms bloude;
Where auncient Bards dyd their verses synge
Of C