The Slain Knight

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The Slain Knight

Ah woe is me! here lies my brother slain,
   The spear-head broken in his brain.

A hundred knights, with vassals at command,
   We rode to spoil Sir Mordred's land.

All day we rode and ravaged at our will,
   Marvelling what kept the foe so still.

We ravaged till the sun went down; but then
   The plain was thick with steeds and men.

We saw Sir Mordred sallying from his tower,
   With knights and vassals twice our power.

Fast were we spurring for our castle-gate;
   But loud he challenged us to wait.

We turn'd; we stood: they gallop'd up amain:
   Soon shower'd the blows like winter rain.

Sir Mordred singled out my brother dear;
   He spurr'd; I watch'd the flying spear.

I cried with pain amid the battle's din
   To see the cursed steel strike in.

I couch'd my lance at Mordred, but in vain:
   The spear struck well, but burst in twain.

I drew my sword: on ringing helm and mail
   Our blows rain'd furious as the hail.

Then, grasping fierce the hilt with either hand,
   We smote together, brand with brand.

His falchion shiver'd on my stout mailcoat:
   I drove my good sword through his throat.

I felt the steel split the rent mail in twain;
   I turn'd and smote the cleft again.

(I look'd beneath me as I aim'd the blow,
   And saw my brother dead below.)

Right through and through the throat the good sword sped:
   He writhed--he reel'd--he fell down dead.

One fiery thought of vengeance and of pride,
   And then I knelt by Edward's side.

I took his hand; I kiss'd his cheek: in vain!
   Dead, dead! he will not speak again.

And I may ride and ride the wide world through,
   And find no knight so dear and true.

Sir Mordred's vassals and his knights are fled,
   But I still watch my brother dead.

My brother, O my brother! had I died,
   Thou slain my slayer by my side!

For I may ride and ride afar and near,
   But find no knight so true and dear.