James Clerk Maxwell

The Death of Sir James, Lord of Douglas

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"Men may weill wyt, thouch nane thaim tell,
How angry for sorow, and how fell,
Is to tyne sic a Lord as he
To thaim that war off hys mengye.’

- Barbour's Bruce, B. XX. i. 507.

Where rich Seville's proud turrets rise
A foreign ship at anchor lies;
The pennons, floating in the air,
Proclaim that one of rank is there-—
The Douglas, with a gallant band
Of warriors, seeks the Holy Land.
But wherefore now the trumpet's bray,
The clang of arms and war’s array,
The atabal and martial drum?
The Moor—the infidel is come;
And there is Sultan Osmyn—see!
With all his Paynim chivalry;
And they have sworn to glut their steel
With the best blood of fair Castile.
"And do we here inactive stand?"
The Douglas cries; "Land! comrades, land!"
Then for the Christian camp he makes,
When thus Alphonso silence breaks:
"What news from Scotland do you bring;
And where is now your patriot king?"
"Alas! within this casket lies
The heart so valiant, good, and wise,
This to the Holy Land we bear,
For we have sworn to lay it there.
But let us forward to the fight,
And God protect the Christian right!"
To whom Alphonso—"Scottish lord,
That now for Spain cost draw that sword,
The terror of thy English foes,
When for her freedom Scotland rose;
With knights like thee and thy brave band
We’ll drive the Moslem from the land."
The Douglas thus his comrades cheers—
"Be brave! and as for him that fears,
Let the base coward turn and fly,
For we will gain the day, or die.
Now couch the trusty Scottish spear,
And think King Robert’s heart is here,
And boldly charge—already, see
The dogs of Moslems turn and flee."
At the first onset, with the slain
Those valiant warriors strew the plain;
But, hark! the Allah Hu! the foes
Rally, and hot the combat grows,
For here the Spaniards yield, and there
The Moors have slain the brave St. Clair.
Then, midst the thickest of his foes,
The precious casket Douglas throws—
"Pass on before us" hear him cry,
"For I will follow thee, or die."
He rushes on—but all in vain,
For thicker comes the arrowy rain;
And now, by multitudes opprest,
With many a wound upon his breast,
Where ’midst the slain the casket lies,
A noble death the Douglas dies.

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