Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
II. The Battle-flag of Sigurd
By Dora Greenwell (1821–1882)
          The flag of Sigurd, the northern warrior, carried victory with it, but brought death to its bearer.

I HAVE no folded flock to show,
  Though from my youth I have loved the sheep
And the lambs, as they strayed in the valleys low,
  Or clomb the upland pastures steep,
  But none were given me to keep!        5
I stood on the hill when the dawn brake red,
  Through the darkling glen the foe drew nigh,
They came on swift, with a stealthy tread;
  I gave the earliest warning cry!
Then flashed the falchion, the arrow flew;        10
  I did not fight, nor yield, nor fly,
I held up the flag the whole day through—
  Wrap it round me when I die!
I have no garnered sheaf to show,
  Though oft with my shining sickle bared        15
I have wrought with the reapers, row by row,
  And joined the shout as they homeward fared:
  I was not by when the land was shared!
I stood at noon when the maidens dread
  Came forth ere the battle, to choose the slain,        20
And at nightfall the raven’s foot was red,
  And the wolves were met on the darkening plain.
Then hewed the hanger, the sword smote sore,
  I held up the flag till the day went by;
It was glued to my straining clasp with gore—        25
  Wrap it round me when I die!
I have no silken spoil to show,
  No torque of the beaten gold, no red
Rich broidered mantle, wrung from the foe,
  Or flung down by chief as the banquet sped;        30
  I have only watched, and toiled, and bled!
I stand at eve on the vessel’s prow,
  My heart is wounded, and I have striven
So long that my arm is weary now,
  And the flag I bear is stained and riven;        35
The dark waves mutter, the night dews fall;
  ’Twixt a sullen sea and a stormy sky
I hold up the flag in sight of all—
  Wrap it round me when I die!

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