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ON A ROMAN HELMET
These verses were occasioned by the discovery of a Roman helmet and other remains on the site of the Roman camp near Melrose.
A HELMET of the legion, this,
That long and deep hath lain,
Of sun and wind again.
For in its burnished dome
The glory that was Rome!
The tides of sixteen hundred years
Have flowed, and ebbed, and flowed,
Come up the Roman Road;
The eagles lift and fall,
Floats, guardian, over all !
Who marched beneath this gilded helm?
Who wore this casque a-shine ?
A soldier of the line ?
The spearman's bones beside,
With sunlight on this golden crest
Maybe some Roman guard,
Through Memory's gates unbarred;
Grown sick at heart for home,
That paved the road to Rome.
Or by the queen of Border streams
That flowed his camp beneath
Of love as old as death,
And dipped it in the tide,
Some maid on Tiber-side.
Years pass; and Time keeps tally,
And pride takes earth for tomb,
Corn grows and roses bloom;
The ploughs lift through the loam,
The majesty of Rome.
W. H. OGILVIE.
The Eildon Hills are three conical-shaped hills south of Melrose. On one of the three there are traces of a Roman camp.
33. queen of Border streams. The Tweed.
PAULINUS AND EDWIN
When Ethelburga, daughter of the King of Kent, was married to Edwin of Northumbria, Paulinus, one of Augustine's monks, was sent to attend on her. He converted Edwin, and Christianity was recognized in the North. There are still evidences of Paulinus' work in many parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, as e. g. the Cross at Whalley Church near Blackburn. He is said to have travelled all over Northumbria in six years, preaching and baptizing.
The black-hair'd gaunt Paulinus
By ruddy Edwin stood :-
* Before the holy Rood!
* And worship Christ our Lord!' -But Edwin look'd and ponder'd,
And answer'd not a word.
Again the gaunt Paulinus
To ruddy Edwin spake:
• For his dear Son's own sake!
Who bears the Keys and Sword ?'
And answer'd not a word.
4. Rood] cross.
Rose then a sage old warrior;
Was five-score winters old, Whose beard from chin to girdle
Like one long snow-wreath roll’d: 20 * At Yule-time in our chamber
We sit in warmth and light, While cavern-black around us * Lies the grim mouth of Night.
• Athwart the room a sparrow
*Darts from the open door : Within the happy hearth-light
• One red flash,—and no more! We see it born from darkness,
· And into darkness go : "So is our life, King Edwin!
"Ah, that it should be so !
* But if this pale Paulinus
* Have somewhat more to tell ; Some news of whence and whither,
And where the Soul may dwell :• If on that outer darkness
•The sun of Hope may shine;He makes life worth the living!
I take his God for mine!'
So spake the wise old warrior;
And all about him cried, • Paulinus' God hath conquer'd!
· And he shall be our guide :* For he makes life worth living,
Who brings this message plain,· When our brief days are over,
• That we shall live again.'
F. T. PALGRAVE.
3. Deira. Northern England.
THE SPOTLESS KING
It has been said that there have been greater warriors, greater statesmen, and greater scholars than Alfred the Great, but that no man ever combined in one person so much excellence in war, legislation, and scholarship (Gardiner).
The poem that follows was written for the Millenary Celebration at Winchester in 1901.
SOME lights there be within the Heavenly Spheres
Yet unrevealed, the interspace so vast :
Alfred's full radiance shines on us at last.
Star of the spotless fame, from far-off skies
Teaching this truth, too long not understood, That only they are worthy who are wise,
And none are truly great that are not good.
Of valour, virtue, letters, learning, law,
Pattern and prince, His name will now abide, 10 Long as of conscience Rulers live in awe,
And love of country is their only pride.
But with His name four other names attune,
Which from oblivion guardian Song may save; Lone Athelney, victorious Ethandune,
15 Wantage his cradle, Winchester his grave.
15. Athelney. An island amid the marshes of Mid-Somerset, where Alfred took refuge in 878 from Guthrum, King of the Danes. Ethandune. In Wiltshire, where Alfred, after leaving Athelney, defeated Guthrum.