We know thee, Alfred, by the crown that glows
Amid the victor wreath that binds thy brows;
And by that clarion voice oft rolled on high
To lead thy warriors on to victory:
But loftier praise than deeds of might can give
Shall bid for thee a brighter memory live:
'He built his country's law '-a nobler name
Than chieftain's glory, or than conqueror's fame.
From the far forests of the icy North,
Winter's dread kingdom, came the foemen forth:
O'er England's fertile fields, from shore to shore,
In robber bands the rude invaders pour;
Fair lies the plain before them, and behind
O'er black'ning desert wails the moaning wind.
See where in bristling ranks they rush to war!
The mystic raven spreads his wings afar;-
That wondrous banner which the sisters wove
By the dark river in the war-god's grove ;
At the dread spell the moon to darkness grew,
Up from his crag the screaming eagle flew,
And the scared wolf forsook his bloody den
In the still shadows of the startled glen.-
Heard ye the shout of battle wake the land,
The clang of steel, the clash of mailed hand?
In battle's dreadful close for land and life
The Saxon warriors urge the desperate strife:
Vain the king's knightly prowess! On they come
Wild as the wolves that haunt their northern home.
Borne back, o'erwhelmed, behold thy squadrons die,
Till dark-eyed night goes up along the sky,
And the pale moon streams o'er the fatal field,
On broken helmet, and on shattered shield.
Who bows his head in yonder frowning pile,
Where silence broods round Æthelingey's isle,-