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HAROLD AND TOSTIG
While King Harold was watching for the landing of the Duke of Normandy, he learned that his own brother Tostig, aided by the Norse rover Harold Hardrada, had invaded Northumbria, from the earldom of which King Harold had deposed him. Harold, feeling that both duty and honour compelled him to drive the invaders out of England, marched his army north and defeated the enemy at Stamford Bridge on the Derwent, where both Hardrada and Tostig were slain.
[See Lytton's Harold, Book XI, Ch. 11.]
FORTH from England's ranks a score of horsemen
'I am he,' quick answer makes the fierce Earl.
Thine shall be again Northumbria's earldom; Thou, his man, shalt rule with him his kingdom.'
'Friendship had ye proffered then, full surely,
But if I, forgiving, take thy proffer,
Hollow from the blue helm leaps the answer,
Seven feet of English earth shall his be
Grimly laugh around the mailèd horsemen,
But in wrath dark grows the frown of Tostig,
'Then let Harold boune him for the battle;
That, with Sigurd's son, I, warring westward,
DEATH OF HAROLD HARDRADA
LIKE the tall mast snapped before the storm-wind
Never more the strong shall fall before him,
Long his Queen shall watching look to westward, 5
Round him fight and fall the heaped-up corpse-ring,
Falls fierce Tostig, grimly as the bear falls,
Falls at last the beacon of the war-field;
'Plight your troth, no more your ocean riders, Viking-filled, shall come with fire and slaughter.
21. boune] prepare.
So bear hence your kingly dead, O Olaf,
Forth to seawards sweep the Northmen's galleys,
So fell Harold, last of all the Vikings,
The Curfew (couvre-feu) was a bell rung at 8 o'clock in winter and at sunset in summer, when all fires had to be extinguished. It also served as a call to prayers, and is still rung in some towns. The curfew law was instituted by William the Conqueror, to prevent sedition by keeping Englishmen within their houses after nightfall.
The Curfew Bell
Is beginning to toll.
Cover the embers,
And put out the light;
Dark grow the windows,
22. scald] poet.
The death of William Rufus in the New Forest might be regarded as a Nemesis or poetic justice, not only on him for his cruelty in that district, but also on his father who had ruthlessly destroyed villages to make a hunting-ground there. It is not known for certain whether Rufus was killed by accident or design; probably the latter. His body was carried to Winchester Cathedral and unceremoniously buried under the tower, which fell a few years afterwards, 'because so foul a body lay beneath it'.
THE King was drinking in Malwood Hall,
And, 'The word of the Lord, thou cruel Red King, 5
A grimly sweven I dreamt yestreen;
I saw thee lie under the hollins green,
And through thy heart an arrow keen;
And out of thy body a smoke did rise,
Which smirched the sunshine out of the skies:
I rede thee unto thy soul thou see,
For mitre and pall thou hast y-sold,
False knight to Christ, for gain and gold;
7. sweven] dream.
And for this thy forest were digged down all,
The Red King down from Malwood came;
For whether the saints they swerved the shot,
Tyrrel he smiled full grim that day,
Quod, Shooting of kings is no bairns' play';
Men clepen that water Tyrrel's ford.
17. Steading] farm-house.
49. clepen] call.