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At thy pale feet this ballad of the deeds Bullets would sing by our foreheads, and of England, and her banner in the
bullets would rain at our feet East?
Fire from ten thousand at once of the
rebels that girdled us roundTHE DEFENCE OF LUCKNOW.
Death at the glimpse of a finger from
over the breadth of a street, Death from the heights of the mosque
and the palace, and death in the BANNER of England, not for a season, O
ground! banner of Britain, hast thou
Mine? yes, a
mine! Countermine! Floated in conquering battle or fapt to
down, down! and creep thro' the the battle-cry!
hole! Never with mightier glory than when we
Keep the revolver in hand! you can hear had rear'd thee on high
him the murderous mole! Flying at top of the roofs in the ghastly Quiet, ah! quiet - wait till the point of siege of Lucknow
the pickaxe be thro'! Shot thro' the staff or the halyard, but
Click with the pick, coming nearer and ever we raised thee anew,
nearer again than before.And ever upon the topmost roof our Now let it speak, and you fire, and the banner of England blew.
dark pioneer is no more; And ever upon the topmost roof our
banner of England blew ! Frail were the works that defended the
hold that we held with our lives Women and children among us, God help
them, our children and wives! Ay, but the foe sprung his mine many Hold it we might — and for fifteen days
times, and it chanced on a day or for twenty at most.
Soon as the blast of that underground Never surrender, I charge you, but
thunderclap echo'd away, every man die at his post!'
Dark thro' the smoke and the sulphur Voice of the dead whom we loved, our
like so many fiends in their Lawrence the best of the brave:
hell Cold were his brows when we kiss'd Cannon-shot, musket-shot, volley him --- we laid him that night in
volley, and yell upon yell — his grave.
Fiercely on all the defences our myriad * Every man die at his post !' and there
enemy fell. bail'd on our houses and halls What have they done? where is it? Out Death from their rifle-bullets, and death
yonder. Guard the Redan! from their cannon-balls,
Storm at the Water-gate! storm at the Death in our innermost chamber, and
Bailey-gate! storm, and it ran death at our slight barricade, Surging and swaying all round us, as Death while we stood with the musket,
ocean on every side and death while we stoopt to the Plunges and heaves at a bank that is spade,
daily devour'd by the tide Death to the dying, and wounds to the So many thousands that if they be bold wounded, for often there fell,
enough, who shall escape? Striking the hospital wall, crashing thro' Kill or be kill'd, live or die, they shall it, their shot and their shell,
know we are soldiers and men ! Death — for their spies were among us, Ready! take aim at their leaders their marksmen were told of our
their masses are gapp'd with our best,
grape So that the brute bullet broke thro' the Backward they reel like the wave, like brain that could think for the rest;
the wave flinging forward again,
Flying and foil'd at the last by the hand
sul they could not subdue; And ever upon the topmost roof our
banner of England blew.
Now double-charge it with grape! It is
charged and we fire, and they
run. Praise to our Indian brothers, and let the
dark face have his due ! Thanks to the kindly dark faces who
fought with us, faithful and few, Fought with the bravest among us, and
drove them, and smote them, and
slew, That ever upon the topmost roof our
banner in India blew.
Handful of men as we were, we were
English in heart and in limb, Strong with the strength of the race to
command, to obey, to endure, Each of us fought as if hope for the gar
rison hung but on him ; Still - could we watch at all points?' we
were every day fewer and fewer. There was a whisper among us, but only
a whisper that past : • Children and wives — if the tigers leap
into the fold unawares Every man die at his post — and the foe
may outlive us at last Better to fall by the hands that they love,
than to fall into theirs !' Roar upon roar in a moment two mines
by the enemy sprung Clove into perilous chasms our walls and
our poor palisades. Rifleman, true is your heart, but be sure
that your hand be as true! Sharp is the fire of assault, better aimed
are your flank fusilladesTwice do we hurl them to earth from the
ladders to which they had clung, Twice from the ditch where they shelter
we drive them with hand-grenades; And ever upon the topmost roof our
banner of England blew.
Men will forget what we suffer and not
what we do. We can fight! But to be soldier all day and be sentinell
all thro' the night Ever the mine and assault, our sallies,
their lying alarms, Bugles and drums in the darkness, and
shoutings and soundings to arms, Ever the labour of fifty that had to be
done by five, Ever the marvel among us that one should
be left alive, Ever the day with its traitorous death
from the loopholes around, Ever the night with its coffinless corpse
to be laid in the ground, Heat like the mouth of a hell, or a deluge
of cataract skies, Stench of old offal decaying, and infinite
torment of Ries, Thoughts of the breezes of May blowing
over an English field, Cholera, scurvy, and fever, the wound
that would not be heal'd, Lopping away of the limb by the pitiful
pitiless knite, Torture and trouble in vain,- for it never
could save us a life. Valour of delicate women who tended the
hospital bed, Horror of women in travail among the
dying and dead, Grief for our perishing children, and
never a moment for grief, Toil and ineffable weariness, faltering
hopes of relief, Havelock baffled, or beaten, or butcher'd
for all that we knew
Then on another wild morning another
wild earthquake out-tore Clean from our lines of defence ten or
twelve good paces or more. Rifleman, high on the roof, hidden there
from the light of the sun – One has leapt up on the breach, crying
out: ‘Follow me, follow me!' – Mark him — he falls! then another, and
him too, and down goes he. Had they been bold enough then, who
can tell but the traitors had won? Boardings and rafters and doors — an em
brasure! make way for the gun!
Then day and night, day and night, com- These wet black passes and foam-churning down on the still-shatter'd
ing chasms walls
And God's free air, and hope of better Millions of musket-bullets, and thousands things.
of cannon-balls But ever upon the topmost roof our I would I knew their speech; not now banner of England blew.
Not now — - I hope to do it — some scatVII.
ter'd ears, Hark cannonade, fusillade ! is it true what
Some ears for Christ in this wild field of
Wales was told by the scout, Outram and Havelock breaking their way
But, bread, merely for bread. This through the fell mutineers ?
tongue that wagg'd Surely the pibroch of Europe is ringing They said with such heretical arrogance again in our ears!
Against the proud archbishop Arundel All on a sudden the garrison utter a jubi
So much God's cause was fluent in it lant shout,
is here Havelock's glorious Highlanders ansyer
But as a Latin Bible to the crowd; with conquering cheers,
• Bara!'- what use? The Shepherd, Sick from the hospital echo them, women
when I speak, and children come out,
Veiling a sudden eyelid with his hard Blessing the wholesome white faces of *Dim Saesneg' passes, wroth at things Havelock's good fusileers,
of old Kissing the war-barden'd hand of the
No fault of mine. Had he God's word
in Welsh Highlander wet with their tears ! Dance to the pibroch! — saved ! we are
He might be kindlier : happily come the saved ! — is it you? is it you?
day! Saved by the valour of Havelock, saved by the blessing of Heaven!
Not least art thou, thou little Bethle‘Hold it for fifteen days !' we have held
hem it for eighty-seven!
In Judah, for in thee the Lord was born; And ever aloft on the palace roof the old
Nor thou in Britain, little Lutterworth, banner of England blew.
Least, for in thee the word was born
SIR JOHN OLDCASTLE, LORD
(IN WALES.) My friend should meet me somewhere
hereabout To take me to that hiding in the hills.
I have broke their cage, no gilded one,
or none, For I am emptier than a friar's brains; But God is with me in this wilderness,
Heaven-sweet Evangel, ever-living
talk our isle.
What did he say,
crost In flying hither? that one night a crowd
Urge him to foreign war. O had he
will'd I might have stricken a lusty stroke for
him, But he would not; far liever led iny
friend Back to the pure and universal church, But he would not: whether that heirless
flaw In his throne's title make him feel so
frail, He leans on Antichrist; or that his mind, So quick, sv capable in solliership, In matters of the faith, alas the while ! More worth than all the kingdoms of
this world, Runs in the rut, a coward to the Priest.
Throng'd the waste field about the city
gates : The king was on them suddenly with a
host. Why there? they came to hear their
preacher. Then Some cried on Cobham, on the good
Lord Cobham; Ay, for they love me! but the king –
nor voice Nor finger raised against him — took and
bang'd, Took, hang'd and burnt - how many
thirty-nine — Call'd it rebellion - hang'd, poor friends,
as rebels And burn'd alive as heretics ! for your
Priest Labels — to take the king along with
him All heresy, treason: but to call men
traitors May make men traitors.
Rose of Lancaster, Red in thy birth, redder with household
war, Now reddest with the blood of holy
men, Redder to be, red rose of Lancaster If somewhere in the North, as Rumour
sang Fluttering the hawks of this crown-lust
ing lineBy firth and loch thy silver sister grow, That were my rose, there my' allegiance
due. Self-starved, they say
- nay, murder'd, doubtless dead. So to this king I cleaved: my friend was
he, Once my fast friend : I would have given
Burnt - good Sir Roger Acton, my
dear friend! Burnt too, my faithful preacher, Beverley! Lord give thou power to thy two wit
nesses! Lest the false faith make merry over
them! Two— nay, but thirty-nine have risen and
stand, Dark with the smoke of human sacrifice, Before thy light, and cry continually Cry -- against whom?
Him, who should bear the sword Of Justice – what! the kingly, kindly
boy; Who took the world so easily heretofure, My boon companion, tavern-fellow - him Who gibed and japed — in many a merry
tale That shook our sides — at Pardoners,
Summoners, Friars, absolution-sellers, monkeries And nunneries, when the wild hour and
the wine Had set the wits aflame.
Harry of Monmouth, Or Amurath of the East?
Better to sink Thy fleurs-de-lys in slime again, and fling Thy royalty back into the riotous fits Of wine and harlotry — thy shame, and
mine, Thy comrade — than to persecute the
Lord, And play the Saul that never will be Paul
To help his own from scathe, a thousand
lives To save his soul. He might have come
to learn Our Wiclif's learning: but the worldly
Priests Who fear the king's hard common-sense
should find What rotten piles uphold their masonwork,
1 Richard II.
Burnt, burnt! and while this mitred
Arundel Dooms our unlicensed preacher to the
flame, The mitre-sanction'd harlot draws his
clerks Into the suburb — their hard celibacy, Sworn to be veriest ice of pureness,
molten Into adulterous living, or such crimes As holy Paul — a shame to speak of
them Among the heathen
Sanctuary granted To bandit, thief, assassin - yea to him Who hacks his mother's throat denied
to him, Who finds the Saviour in his mother
tongue. The Gospel, the Priest's pearl, flung down
to swineThe swine, lay-men, lay-women, who will
come, God willing, to outlearn the filthy friar. Ah rather, Lord, than that thy Gospel,
meant To course and range thro' all the world,
should be Tether’d to these dead pillars of the
Church Rather than so, if thou wilt have it so, Burst vein, snap sinew, and crack heart,
and life Pass in the fire of Babylon! But how
long, O Lord, how long!
My friend should meet me here. Here is the copse, the fountain and -- a
Cross! To thee, dead wood, I bow not head nor
knees, Rather to thee, green boscage, work of
God, Black holly, and white-flower'd wayfar
ing-tree. Rather to thee, thou living water,
drawn By this good Wiclif mountain down from
heaven, And speaking clearly in thy native
tongue No Latin
He that thirsteth, come and drink!
Eh! how I anger'd Arundel asking me To worship Ilol; Cross! I spread mine
arms, God's work, I said, a cross of flesh and
blood And holier. That was heresy. (My
good friend By this time should be with me.)
Images?' Bury them as God's truer images Are daily buried.' 'Heresy. - Penance?'
Fast, Hairshirt and scourge - nay, let a man
repent, Do penance in his heart, God hears him.'
• What profits an ill Priest Between me and my God? I would not
spurn Good counsel of good friends, but shrive
myself No, not to an Apostle.' 'Heresy.' (My friend is long in coming.) · Pil
grimages?' • Drink, bagpipes, revelling, devil's
dances, vice. The poor man's money gone to fat the
friar. Who reads of begging saints in Script
ure?--'Heresy' (Hath he been here not found me
gone again? Have I mislearnt our place of meeting?)
• Bread Bread left after the blessing?' how they
stared, That was their main test-question
glared at me! He veil'd Himself in flesh, and now He
veils His flesh in bread, body and bread
together.' Then rose the howl of all the cassock'd
wolves, 'No bread, no bread. God's body!'
Archbishop, Bishop, Priors, Canons, Friars, bellringers,
Parish-clerksNo bread, no bread!'—Authority of
the Church, Power of the keys!' - Then I, God help