BATTLE OF BRUNANBURH - Alfred Lord Tennyson Poems


Poems » alfred lord tennyson » battle of brunanburh


      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.