Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BATTLE OF NASEBY, by THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY



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THE BATTLE OF NASEBY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Oh! Wherefore come ye forth, in triumph from the north
Last Line: Houses and the word!
Alternate Author Name(s): Macaulay, 1st Baron
Variant Title(s): Naseby;songs Of The Civil War: 1
Subject(s): Naseby, Battle Of (1645); Scotland; War


O, WHEREFORE come ye forth, in triumph from the
north,
With your hands and your feet and your raiment
all red ?
And wherefore doth your rout send forth a joyous
shout?
And whence be the grapes of the wine-press that
ye tread?

O, evil was the root, and bitter was the fruit,
And crimson was the juice of the vintage that we
trod:
For we trampled on the throng of the haughty and
the strong,
Who sate in the high places and slew the saints of
God.

It was about the noon of a glorious day, of June,
That we saw their banners dance and their cui-
rasses shine,
And the man of blood was there, with his long
essenced hair,
And Astley, and Sir Marmaduke, and Rupert of
the Rhine.
Like a servant of the Lord, with his Bible and his
sword,
The General rode along us to form us to the fight;
When a murmuring sound broke out, and swelled
into a shout
Among the godless horsemen upon the tyrant's
right.

And hark! like the roar of the billows on the shore,
The cry of battle rises along their charging line!
For God! for the cause! -- for the Church! for the
laws!
For Charles, king of England, and Rupert of the
Rhine!

The furious German comes, with his clarions and
his drums,
His bravoes of Alsatia, and pages of Whitehall;
They are bursting on our flanks. Grasp your
pikes! Close your ranks!
For Rupert never comes but to conquer, or to fall.

They are here! They rush on! We are broken!
We are gone!
Our left is borne before them like stubble on the
blast.
O Lord, put forth thy might! O Lord, defend the
right!
Stand back to back, in God's name! and fight it to
the last!

Stout Skipport hath a wound; the centre hath
given ground:
Hark! hark! what means the trampling of horse-
men on our rear?
Whose banner do I see, boys? ''T is he! thank God!
't is he, boys!
Bear up another minute! Brave Oliver is here.

Their heads all stooping low, their points all in
a row,
Like a whirlwind on the trees, like a deluge on
the dikes,
Our cuirassiers have burst on the ranks of the
Accurst,
And at a shock have scattered the forest of his
pikes.

Fast, fast the gallants ride, in some safe nook to
hide
Their coward heads, predestined to rot on Temple
Bar;
And he, -- he turns, he flies: -- shame on those cruel
eyes
That bore to look on torture, and dare not look on
war!

Ho! comrades, scour the plain; and, ere ye strip
the slain,
First give another stab to make your search se-
cure;
Then shake from sleeves and pockets their broad-
pieces and lockets,
The tokens of the wanton, the plunder of the poor.

Fools! your doublets shone with gold, and your
hearts were gay and bold
When you kissed your lily hands to your lemans
to-day;
And to-morrow shall the fox, from her chambers
in the rocks,
Lead forth her tawny cubs to howl above the prey.

Where be your tongues that late mocked at heaven
and hell and fate?
And the fingers that once were so busy with your
blades,
Your perfumed satin clothes, your catches and
your oaths!
Your stage-play's and your sonnets, your diamonds
and your spades?

Down! down! forever down, with the mitre and
the crown!
With the Belial of the court, and the Mammon of
the Pope!
There is woe in Oxford halls; there is wail in
Durham's stalls;
The Jesuit smites his bosom; the bishop rends his
cope.

And she of the seven hills shall mourn her chil-
dren's ills,
And tremble when she thinks on the edge of
England's sword;
And the kings of earth in fear shall shudder when
they hear
What the hand of God hath wrought for the
Houses and the Word!




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