Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Eclogue the First
By Thomas Chatterton (1752–1770)
 
WHEN England, reeking 1 from her deadly wound,
  From her galled neck did pluck the chain away,
Kenning her liegeful sons fall all around,
  (Mighty they fell,—’twas Honour led the fray,)
  Then in a dale, by eve’s dark surcote grey,        5
Two lonely shepherds did abrodden 2 fly,
  (The rustling leaf doth their white hearts affray,)
And with the owlet trembled and did cry.
  First Robert Neatherd his sore bosom stroke,
  Then fell upon the ground, and thus yspoke.        10
 
Robert.
Ah, Ralph! if thus the hours do come along,
  If thus we fly in chase of further woe,
Our feet will fail, albeit we be strong,
  Nor will our pace swift as our danger go.
  To our great wrongs we have upheapèd moe,—        15
The Barons’ war! Ah, woe and well-a-day!
  My life I have, but have escapèd so
That life itself my senses doth affray.
  O Ralph! come list, and hear my gloomy 3 tale,
  Come hear the baleful doom of Robin of the Dale.        20
 
Ralph.
Say to me nought; I ken thy woe in mine,
  Oh! I’ve a tale that Sathanas 4 might tell!
Sweet flowerets, mantled meadows, forests fine,— 5
  Groves far-off-kenn’d around the Hermit’s cell,—
  The sweet-strung viol 6 dinning in the dell,—        25
The joyous dancing in the hostel-court,—
  Eke the high song and every joy,—farewell!
Farewell the very shade of fair disport!
  Impestering trouble on my head doth come:—
  No one kind Saint to ward the aye-increasing doom!        30
 
Robert.
Oh! I could wail my kingcup-deckèd leas,
  My spreading flocks of sheep all lily-white,
My tender applings and embodied trees,
  My parker’s-grange far spreading to the sight,
  My tender kyne, my bullocks strong in fight,        35
My garden whitened with the cumfrey-plant,
  My flower-Saint-Mary 7 glinting with the light,
My store of all the blessings Heaven can grant.
  I am enhardened unto sorrow’s blow:
  Inured 8 unto the pain, I let no salt tear flow.        40
 
Ralph.
Here will I still abide till Death appear;
  Here, like a foul-empoisoned deadly tree
Which slayeth every one that cometh near,
  So will I grow to this place fixedly. 9
  I to lament have greater cause than thee,        45
Slain in the war my dear-loved father lies.
  Oh! I would slay his murderer joyously, 10
And by his side for aye close up mine eyes.
  Cast out from every joy, here will I bleed;
  Fall’n is the cullis-gate 11 of my heart’s castle-stead.        50
 
Robert.
Our woes alike, alike our doom shall be,
  My son, mine only son, all death-cold 12 is!
Here will I stay and end my life with thee,—
  A life like mine a burden is, I wis.
  Even from the cot flown now is happiness:        55
Minsters alone can boast the holy Saint:
  Now doth our England 13 wear a bloody dress,
And with her champions’ gore her visage paint.
  Peace fled, Disorder shows her face dark-brow’d, 14
  And through the air doth fly in garments stained with blood.        60
 
Note 1. ‘Smeethynge,’ smoking.—Chatterton. [back]
Note 2. ‘Abrodden,’ abruptly.—Chatterton. [back]
Note 3. ‘Dernie,’ sad.—Chatterton. [back]
Note 4. ‘Sabalus,’ the Devil.—Chatterton. [back]
Note 5. ‘Dygne,’ good, neat.—Chatterton. [back]
Note 6. ‘Swote ribible,’ sweet violin.—Chatterton. [back]
Note 7. Marygold.—Chatterton. [back]
Note 8. ‘Hantend,’ accustomed.—Chatterton. [back]
Note 9. ‘Soe wille I, fyxed unto thys place, gre.’—Chatterton. [back]
Note 10. ‘Oh! joieous I hys mortherer would slea.’—Chatterton. [back]
Note 11. Portcullis.—Chatterton. [back]
Note 12. ‘Ystorven,’ dead.—Chatterton. [back]
Note 13. ‘Doeth Englonde.’—Chatterton. [back]
Note 14. ‘Peace fledde, disorder sheweth her dark rode.’ (‘Rode,’ complexion.)—Chatterton. [back]
 
 
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