Battle of Brunanburgh

Athelstan King,
     Lord among Earls,
     Bracelet-bestower and
     Baron of Barons,
     He with his brother,
     Edmund Atheling,
     Gaining a lifelong
     Glory in battle,
     Slew with the sword-edge
     There by Brunanburh,
     Brake the shield-wall,
     Hew’d the lindenwood,
     Hack’d the battleshield,
 Sons of Edward with hammer’d brands.
     Theirs was a greatness
     Got from their Grandsires—
     Theirs that so often in
     Strife with their enemies
 Struck for their hoards and their hearths and their homes.
       Bow’d the spoiler,
       Bent the Scotsman,
       Fell the shipcrews
       Doom’d to the death.
   All the field with blood of the fighters
       Flow’d, from when first the great
       Sun-star of morningtide,
       Lamp of the Lord God
       Lord everlasting,
   Glode over earth till the glorious creature
       Sank to his setting.
       There lay many a man
       Marr’d by the javelin,
       Men of the Northland
       Shot over shield.
       There was the Scotsman
       Weary of war.
       We the West-Saxons,
       Long as the daylight
       Lasted, in companies
   Troubled the track of the host that we hated;
   Grimly with swords that were sharp from the grindstone
   Fiercely we hack’d at the flyers before us.
       Mighty the Mercian,
       Hard was his hand-play,
       Sparing not any of
       Those that with Anlaf,
       Warriors over the
       Weltering waters
       Borne in the bark’s-bosom,
       Drew to this island:
       Doom’d to the death.
     Five young kings put asleep by the sword-stroke,
   Seven strong earls of the army of Anlaf
   Fell on the war-field, numberless numbers,
   Shipmen and Scotsmen.
       Then the Norse leader,
       Dire was his need of it,
       Few were his following,
       Fled to his warship;
   Fleeted his vessel to sea with the king in it,
   Saving his life on the fallow flood.
       Also the crafty one,
       Crept to his north again,
       Hoar-headed hero!
       Slender warrant had
       He to be proud of
       The welcome of war-knives—
       He that was reft of his
       Folk and his friends that had
       Fallen in conflict,
       Leaving his son too
       Lost in the carnage,
       Mangled to morsels,
       A youngster in war!
       Slender reason had
       He to be glad of
       The clash of the war-glaive—
       Traitor and trickster
       And spurner of treaties—
       He nor had Anlaf
       With armies so broken
       A reason for bragging
       That they had the better
       In perils of battle
       On places of slaughter—
       The struggle of standards,
       The rush of the javelins,
       The crash of the charges,
       The wielding of weapons—
       The play that they play’d with
       The children of Edward.
       Then with their nail’d prows
       Parted the Norsemen, a
       Blood-redden’d relic of
       Javelins over
   The jarring breaker, the deep-sea billow,
   Shaping their way toward Dyflen again,
       Shamed in their souls.
       Also the brethren,
       King and Atheling,
       Each in his glory,
   Went to his own in his own West-Saxonland,
       Glad of the war.
       Many a carcase they left to be carrion,
   Many a livid one, many a sallow-skin—
       Left for the white-tail’d eagle to tear it, and
       Left for the horny-nibb’d raven to rend it, and
       Gave to the garbaging war-hawk to gorge it, and
       That gray beast, the wolf of the weald.
       Never had huger
       Slaughter of heroes
       Slain by the sword-edge—
       Such as old writers
       Have writ of in histories—
       Hapt in this isle, since
       Up from the East hither
       Saxon and Angle from
       Over the broad billow
       Broke into Britain with
       Haughty war-workers who
       Harried the Welshman, when
       Earls that were lured by the
       Hunger of glory gat
       Hold of the land.
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