BETA

The Prophecy of the Last Druid.

’Twas eve—the vapours thick and dun1
Wrapt in their shroud the sinking sun,2
And clanging horn and trumpet’s blast3
Rose like a yell of woe, and past ;4
And from the slow and columned smoke5
The sound of ceaseless axes broke ;6
Far spread the field, with corpses strown,7
And came, by fits, a dying groan,8
As if the warrior’s stubborn will9
Mastered the body’s weakness still,10
And the last breath of liberty11
Proclaimed, though dying, he was free.12
But who upon the mountain’s brow13
Stands in such agony of woe ;14
Now sends his wild and eager gaze15
Where rolls the forest’s sheeted blaze ;16
Then, as with kindred majesty,17
Sweeps with his glance the darkening sky,18
As if the lessons of the soul,19
As if of fate the fiery scroll,20
Were there to mortal vision given :21
As if the rising host of Heaven,22
Trooping by myriads, star on star,23
Came heralds of some mightier war !24
There, rending from his quivering wire,25
A haughty strain of hate and ire,26
Stood the last Druid of the land,27
Like some old sculpture, stern and grand.28
Until along the mountain’s side29
A hundred echoes answered wide,30
Then, with a voice half wrath, half wail,31
He flung his sorrows on the gale.32
Rome ! thine eagle, bird of blood,33
On our hearts has made its food.34
England’s warrior hope lies there,35
Stretched upon a gory lair :36
There they died as die the brave,37
Now thou tramplest on their grave,38
Now the Druid altars fall.39
Thine the taunt, the triumph all ;40
All is lost, and all is thine !41
Yet I see thy fatal sign !42
Queen of earth, a weightier sword43
Shall within thy breast be gored ;44
Now our forests sink before thee,45
Yet the Druid’s curse is o’er thee.46
Famine, anguish, fear and flight,47
Shall upon thee come, like night.48
Then the bearers of the bows,49
Rushing from their Scythian snows ;50
Then the German’s thirsty spear ;51
Then the Tartar’s wild career ;52
Then a thousand nameless names53
Round thee poured, like living flames ;54
As if final Fate’s command55
Woke to wrath the desert sand ;56
From the ocean, from the Pole,57
On thee shall the vengeance roll :58
Till thy haughty heart is tame ;59
Till thy shame is more than shame ;60
Till the Gothic firebrand flashes61
O’er the throne of dust and ashes ;62
Till the savage scorns the toil63
Even of gathering thy spoil ;64
Till, of all earth’s slaves the slave,65
Thine is a returnless grave !66
England, shalt thou scape the chain ?67
No ; the Norman and the Dane,68
Sullen fillers of the tomb,69
On thy bleeding shore shall come.70
When a monarch, sceptred craven,71
Bows thee to the magic Raven,*72
Then shall come thy bitter years,73
Counted only by thy biers ;74
Then thy men, no longer men,75
With the wolf shall make their den !76
Yet again thy soul shall feel ;77
Through the dusk shall ring the steel ;78
* The Danish standard.
From the forest, from the swamp,79
Gathering round the tyrant’s camp,80
On his revel hot and deep,81
Shall the sons of freedom sweep ;82
Then upon the murderer’s gaze83
Shall his proud pavilion blaze ;84
Then thy Alfred’s flashing sword,85
Shall, like lightning, smite his horde,86
Shall the long arrear repay,87
Blood for blood, and clay for clay !88
Ages slumbering in the womb,89
Who shall live, and tell your doom ?90
Yet has Death a voice of power91
England, glory is thy dower.92
Thou shalt only set to rise,93
Mind the strength of Fate defies !94
Falling oft, yet oft forgiven,95
To the brink of ruin driven ;96
Like the ingot in the flame,97
Tried, thou shalt be found the same,98
Broken, yet unconquered still,99
Land of the unvanquished will !100
Darkness may thy light absorb,101
Like the comet’s fiery orb102
Gone to realms of night and frost,103
But its radiance is not lost.104
Sudden as a thunder peal,105
Sweeps again its burning wheel !106
Though thy crown to earth were bow’d,107
Like the spirit from the shroud,108
Thou to loftier life shouldst spring,109
Thou shouldst wave a broader wing,110
On thy brighter brow should beam111
But the richer diadem ;112
To thy hand the sceptre given,113
Queen of earth, and Child of Heaven !114
Yet, when years on years have rolled,115
When thou’rt boldest of the bold ;116
When, before the English bow,117
France has stooped her crested brow,118
When, in conquest’s rich repose ;119
Furls its pomp thy bannered rose,”120
Then shall come thy deeper trial,121
Rome on thee shall pour the vial ;122
Yet nor fetter, axe, nor flame,123
Shall thy mighty spirit tame.124
In the pyre shall hoary age125
Close its hallowed pilgrimage ;126
Man’s high courage, woman’s youth,127
Shall give witness to the truth :128
Rising from the blazing pile129
Guardian angels of the isle.130
Once again a’peal shall come,131
France shall sound that trump of doom.132
Then shall sweep the Tricolor ;133
Then on Europe’s harvest-floor134
Shall the sanguine spoil be poured ;135
Shall the sickle be the sword ;136
Ruined altar, trampled crown,137
Kings and nations, trampled down,138
Shall be fruitage of that field ;139
Till the hour of France is sealed ;140
Till is dim her leading Star ;141
Till her thundercloud of war142
Rains no more its shower of blood ;143
Till the sea-birds’ wild abode,144
On the stormy southern wave,145
Is her fiery chieftain’s grave ! ”146
Then sank the strain : the minstrel gazed147
Where the last forest embers blazed ;148
Yet, ere the patriot spirit passed,149
His hand across the string was cast ;150
With sudden life his fingers found151
Their ancient spell of soul and sound,152
And one wild chord of energy153
Echoed to vale, and hill, and sky.154
From mine eyes the veil is gone !155
England ! thou shalt see a throne,156
Like a new-born planet’s phase,157
Gladdening nations in its rays.158
Then the sword no more shall sweep,159
Then no more the slave shall weep,160
Dying in the stranger’s chain ;161
Man shall then be man again !162
Then the Oracles of light,163
Like a spirit’s heavenward flight,164
Round the globe shall wing their way,165
Heralds of a nightless day.166
Then shall sit upon thy throne,167
Queen of peace, a lovely one ;168
Guiltless glory, spotless fame,169
Wreathing young Victoria’s name.170