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Act V

SCENE I.--A TENT ON A MOUND, FROM WHICH CAN BE SEEN THE FIELD OF SENLAC.

HAROLD, sitting; by him standing HUGH MARGOT the Monk, GURTH, LEOFWIN,


HAROLD. Refer my cause, my crown to Rome!... The wolf Mudded the brook and predetermined all. Monk, Thou hast said thy say, and had my constant 'No' For all but instant battle. I hear no more.

MARGOT. Hear me again--for the last time. Arise, Scatter thy people home, descend the hill, Lay hands of full allegiance in thy Lord's And crave his mercy, for the Holy Father Hath given this realm of England to the Norman.

HAROLD. Then for the last time, monk, I ask again When had the Lateran and the Holy Father To do with England's choice of her own king?

MARGOT. Earl, the first Christian Caesar drew to the East To leave the Pope dominion in the West He gave him all the kingdoms of the West.

HAROLD. So!--did he?--Earl--I have a mind to play The William with thine eyesight and thy tongue. Earl--ay--thou art but a messenger of William. I am weary--go: make me not wroth with thee!

MARGOT. Mock-king, I am the messenger of God, His Norman Daniel! Mene, Mene, Tekel! Is thy wrath Hell, that I should spare to cry, Yon heaven is wroth with thee? Hear me again! Our Saints have moved the Church that moves the world, And all the Heavens and very God: they heard-- They know King Edward's promise and thine--thine.

HAROLD. Should they not know free England crowns herself? Not know that he nor I had power to promise? Not know that Edward cancell'd his own promise? And for my part therein--Back to that juggler, [Rising. Tell him the saints are nobler than he dreams, Tell him that God is nobler than the Saints, And tell him we stand arm'd on Senlac Hill, And bide the doom of God.

MARGOT. Hear it thro' me. The realm for which thou art forsworn is cursed, The babe enwomb'd and at the breast is cursed, The corpse thou whelmest with thine earth is cursed, The soul who fighteth on thy side is cursed, The seed thou sowest in thy field is cursed, The steer wherewith thou plowest thy field is cursed, The fowl that fleeth o'er thy field is cursed, And thou, usurper, liar--

HAROLD. Out, beast monk! [Lifting his hand to strike him. GURTH stops the blow. I ever hated monks.

MARGOT. I am but a voice Among you: murder, martyr me if ye will--

HAROLD. Thanks, Gurth! The simple, silent, selfless man Is worth a world of tonguesters. (To MARGOT.) Get thee gone! He means the thing he says. See him out safe!

LEOFWIN. He hath blown himself as red as fire with curses. An honest fool! Follow me, honest fool, But if thou blurt thy curse among our folk, I know not--I may give that egg-bald head The tap that silences.

HAROLD. See him out safe. [Exeunt LEOFWIN and MARGOT.

GURTH. Thou hast lost thine even temper, brother Harold!

HAROLD. Gurth, when I past by Waltham, my foundation For men who serve the neighbour, not themselves, I cast me down prone, praying; and, when I rose, They told me that the Holy Rood had lean'd And bow'd above me; whether that which held it Had weaken'd, and the Rood itself were bound To that necessity which binds us down; Whether it bow'd at all but in their fancy; Or if it bow'd, whether it symbol'd ruin Or glory, who shall tell? but they were sad, And somewhat sadden'd me.

GURTH. Yet if a fear, Or shadow of a fear, lest the strange Saints By whom thou swarest, should have power to balk Thy puissance in this fight with him, who made And heard thee swear--brother--I have not sworn-- If the king fall, may not the kingdom fall? But if I fall, I fall, and thou art king; And, if I win, I win, and thou art king; Draw thou to London, there make strength to breast Whatever chance, but leave this day to me.

LEOFWIN (entering). And waste the land about thee as thou goest, And be thy hand as winter on the field, To leave the foe no forage.

HAROLD. Noble Gurth! Best son of Godwin! If I fall, I fall-- The doom of God! How should the people fight When the king flies? And, Leofwin, art thou mad? How should the King of England waste the fields Of England, his own people?--No glance yet Of the Northumbrian helmet on the heath?

LEOFWIN. No, but a shoal of wives upon the heath, And someone saw thy willy-nilly nun Vying a tress against our golden fern.

HAROLD. Vying a tear with our cold dews, a sigh With these low-moaning heavens. Let her be fetch'd. We have parted from our wife without reproach, Tho' we have dived thro' all her practices; And that is well.

LEOFWIN. I saw her even now: She hath not left us.

HAROLD. Nought of Morcar then?

GURTH. Nor seen, nor heard; thine, William's or his own As wind blows, or tide flows: belike he watches, If this war-storm in one of its rough rolls Wash up that old crown of Northumberland.

HAROLD. I married her for Morcar--a sin against The truth of love. Evil for good, it seems, Is oft as childless of the good as evil For evil.

LEOFWIN. Good for good hath borne at times A bastard false as William.

HAROLD. Ay, if Wisdom Pair'd not with Good. But I am somewhat worn, A snatch of sleep were like the peace of God. Gurth, Leofwin, go once more about the hill-- What did the dead man call it--Sanguelac, The lake of blood?

LEOFWIN. A lake that dips in William As well as Harold.

HAROLD. Like enough. I have seen The trenches dug, the palisades uprear'd And wattled thick with ash and willow-wands; Yea, wrought at them myself. Go round once more; See all be sound and whole. No Norman horse Can shatter England, standing shield by shield; Tell that again to all.

GURTH. I will, good brother.

HAROLD. Our guardsman hath but toil'd his hand and foot, I hand, foot, heart and head. Some wine! (One pours wine into a goblet which he hands to HAROLD.) Too much! What? we must use our battle-axe to-day. Our guardsmen have slept well, since we came in?

LEOFWIN. Ay, slept and snored. Your second-sighted man That scared the dying conscience of the king, Misheard their snores for groans. They are up again And chanting that old song of Brunanburg Where England conquer'd.

HAROLD. That is well. The Norman, What is he doing?

LEOFWIN. Praying for Normandy; Our scouts have heard the tinkle of their bells.

HAROLD. And our old songs are prayers for England too! But by all Saints--

LEOFWIN. Barring the Norman!

HAROLD. Nay, Were the great trumpet blowing doomsday dawn, I needs must rest. Call when the Norman moves--

[Exeunt all, but HAROLD.

No horse--thousands of horses--our shield wall-- Wall--break it not--break not--break-- [Sleeps.

VISION OF EDWARD. Son Harold, I thy king, who came before To tell thee thou shouldst win at Stamford-bridge, Come yet once more, from where I am at peace, Because I loved thee in my mortal day, To tell thee them shalt die on Senlac hill-- Sanguelac!

VISION OF WULFNOTH. O brother, from my ghastly oubliette I send my voice across the narrow seas-- No more, no more, dear brother, nevermore-- Sanguelac!

VISION OF TOSTIG. O brother, most unbrotherlike to me, Thou gavest thy voice against me in my life, I give my voice against thee from the grave-- Sanguelac!

VISION OF NORMAN SAINTS. O hapless Harold! King but for an hour! Thou swarest falsely by our blessed bones, We give our voice against thee out of heaven! Sanguelac! Sanguelac! The arrow! the arrow!

HAROLD (starting up, battle-axe in hand.) Away! My battle-axe against your voices. Peace! The king's last word--'the arrow!' I shall die-- I die for England then, who lived for England-- What nobler? men must die. I cannot fall into a falser world-- I have done no man wrong. Tostig, poor brother, Art thou so anger'd? Fain had I kept thine earldom in thy hands Save for thy wild and violent will that wrench'd All hearts of freemen from thee. I could do No other than this way advise the king Against the race of Godwin. Is it possible That mortal men should bear their earthly heats Into yon bloodless world, and threaten us thence Unschool'd of Death? Thus then thou art revenged-- I left our England naked to the South To meet thee in the North. The Norseman's raid Hath helpt the Norman, and the race of Godwin Hath ruin'd Godwin. No--our waking thoughts Suffer a stormless shipwreck in the pools Of sullen slumber, and arise again Disjointed: only dreams--where mine own self Takes part against myself! Why? for a spark Of self-disdain born in me when I sware Falsely to him, the falser Norman, over His gilded ark of mummy-saints, by whom I knew not that I sware,--not for myself-- For England--yet not wholly--

Enter EDITH.

Edith, Edith, Get thou into thy cloister as the king Will'd it: be safe: the perjury-mongering Count Hath made too good an use of Holy Church To break her close! There the great God of truth Fill all thine hours with peace!--A lying devil Hath haunted me--mine oath--my wife--I fain Had made my marriage not a lie; I could not: Thou art my bride! and thou in after years Praying perchance for this poor soul of mine In cold, white cells beneath an icy moon-- This memory to thee!--and this to England, My legacy of war against the Pope From child to child, from Pope to Pope, from age to age, Till the sea wash her level with her shores, Or till the Pope be Christ's.

Enter ALDWYTH.

ALDWYTH (to EDITH). Away from him!

EDITH. I will.... I have not spoken to the king One word; and one I must. Farewell! [Going.

HAROLD. Not yet. Stay.

EDITH. To what use?

HAROLD. The king commands thee, woman! (To ALDWYTH.) Have thy two brethren sent their forces in?

ALDWYTH. Nay, I fear not.

HAROLD. Then there's no force in thee! Thou didst possess thyself of Edward's ear To part me from the woman that I loved! Thou didst arouse the fierce Northumbrians! Thou hast been false to England and to me!-- As ... in some sort ... I have been false to thee. Leave me. No more--Pardon on both sides--Go!

ALDWYTH. Alas, my lord, I loved thee.

HAROLD (bitterly). With a love Passing thy love for Griffyth! wherefore now Obey my first and last commandment. Go!

ALDWYTH. O Harold! husband! Shall we meet again?

HAROLD. After the battle--after the battle. Go.

ALDWYTH. I go. (Aside.) That I could stab her standing there! [Exit ALDWYTH.

EDITH. Alas, my lord, she loved thee.

HAROLD. Never! never!

EDITH. I saw it in her eyes!

HAROLD. I see it in thine. And not on thee--nor England--fall God's doom!

EDITH. On thee? on me. And thou art England! Alfred Was England. Ethelred was nothing. England Is but her king, and thou art Harold!

HAROLD. Edith, The sign in heaven--the sudden blast at sea-- My fatal oath--the dead Saints--the dark dreams-- The Pope's Anathema--the Holy Rood That bow'd to me at Waltham--Edith, if I, the last English King of England--

EDITH. No, First of a line that coming from the people, And chosen by the people--

HAROLD. And fighting for And dying for the people--

EDITH. Living! living!

HAROLD. Yea so, good cheer! thou art Harold, I am Edith! Look not thus wan!

EDITH. What matters how I look? Have we not broken Wales and Norseland? slain, Whose life was all one battle, incarnate war, Their giant-king, a mightier man-in-arms Than William.

HAROLD. Ay, my girl, no tricks in him-- No bastard he! when all was lost, he yell'd, And bit his shield, and dash'd it on the ground, And swaying his two-handed sword about him, Two deaths at every swing, ran in upon us And died so, and I loved him as I hate This liar who made me liar. If Hate can kill, And Loathing wield a Saxon battle-axe--

EDITH. Waste not thy might before the battle!

HAROLD. No, And thou must hence. Stigand will see thee safe, And so--Farewell. [He is going, but turns back. The ring thou darest not wear. I have had it fashion'd, see, to meet my hand. [HAROLD shows the ring which is on his finger.

Farewell! [He is going, but turns back again. I am dead as Death this day to ought of earth's Save William's death or mine.

EDITH. Thy death!--to-day! Is it not thy birthday?

HAROLD. Ay, that happy day! A birthday welcome! happy days and many! One--this! [They embrace. Look, I will bear thy blessing into the battle And front the doom of God.

NORMAN CRIES (heard in the distance). Ha Rou! Ha Rou!

Enter GURTH.

GURTH. The Norman moves!

HAROLD. Harold and Holy Cross!

[Exeunt HAROLD and GURTH.

Enter STIGAND.

STIGAND. Our Church in arms--the lamb the lion--not Spear into pruning-hook--the counter way-- Cowl, helm; and crozier, battle-axe. Abbot Alfwig, Leofric, and all the monks of Peterboro' Strike for the king; but I, old wretch, old Stigand, With hands too limp to brandish iron--and yet I have a power--would Harold ask me for it-- I have a power.

EDITH. What power, holy father?

STIGAND. Power now from Harold to command thee hence And see thee safe from Senlac.

EDITH. I remain!

STIGAND. Yea, so will I, daughter, until I find Which way the battle balance. I can see it From where we stand: and, live or die, I would I were among them!

CANONS from Waltham (singing without).

Salva patriam Sancte Pater, Salva Fili, Salva Spiritus, Salva patriam, Sancta Mater.[1]

[Footnote 1: The a throughout these Latin hymns should be sounded broad, as in 'father.']

EDITH. Are those the blessed angels quiring, father?

STIGAND. No, daughter, but the canons out of Waltham, The king's foundation, that have follow'd him.

EDITH. O God of battles, make their wall of shields Firm as thy cliffs, strengthen their palisades! What is that whirring sound?

STIGAND. The Norman arrow!

EDITH. Look out upon the battle--is he safe?

STIGAND. The king of England stands between his banners. He glitters on the crowning of the hill. God save King Harold!

EDITH. --chosen by his people And fighting for his people!

STIGAND. There is one Come as Goliath came of yore--he flings His brand in air and catches it again, He is chanting some old warsong.

EDITH. And no David To meet him?

STIGAND. Ay, there springs a Saxon on him, Falls--and another falls.

EDITH. Have mercy on us!

STIGAND. Lo! our good Gurth hath smitten him to the death.

EDITH. So perish all the enemies of Harold!

CANONS (singing).

Hostis in Angliam Ruit praedator, Illorum, Domine, Scutum scindatur! Hostis per Angliae Plagas bacchatur; Casa crematur, Pastor fugatur Grex trucidatur--

STIGAND. Illos trucida, Domine.

EDITH. Ay, good father.

CANONS (singing).

Illorum scelera Poena sequatur!

ENGLISH CRIES. Harold and Holy Cross! Out! out!

STIGAND. Our javelins Answer their arrows. All the Norman foot Are storming up the hill. The range of knights Sit, each a statue on his horse, and wait.

ENGLISH CRIES. Harold and God Almighty!

NORMAN CRIES. Ha Rou! Ha Rou!

CANONS (singing).

Eques cum pedite Praepediatur! Illorum in lacrymas Cruor fundatur! Pereant, pereant, Anglia precatur.

STIGAND. Look, daughter, look.

EDITH. Nay, father, look for me!

STIGAND. Our axes lighten with a single flash About the summit of the hill, and heads And arms are sliver'd off and splinter'd by Their lightning--and they fly--the Norman flies.

EDITH. Stigand, O father, have we won the day?

STIGAND. No, daughter, no--they fall behind the horse-- Their horse are thronging to the barricades; I see the gonfanon of Holy Peter Floating above their helmets--ha! he is down!

EDITH. He down! Who down?

STIGAND. The Norman Count is down.

EDITH. So perish all the enemies of England!

STIGAND. No, no, he hath risen again--he bares his face-- Shouts something--he points onward--all their horse Swallow the hill locust-like, swarming up.

EDITH. O God of battles, make his battle-axe keen As thine own sharp-dividing justice, heavy As thine own bolts that fall on crimeful heads Charged with the weight of heaven wherefrom they fall!

CANONS (singing).

Jacta tonitrua Deus bellator! Surgas e tenebris, Sis vindicator! Fulmina, fulmina Deus vastator!

EDITH. O God of battles, they are three to one, Make thou one man as three to roll them down!

CANONS (singing).

Equus cum equite Dejiciatur! Acies, Acies Prona sternatur! Illorum lanceas Frange Creator!

STIGAND. Yea, yea, for how their lances snap and shiver Against the shifting blaze of Harold's axe! War-woodman of old Woden, how he fells The mortal copse of faces! There! And there! The horse and horseman cannot meet the shield, The blow that brains the horseman cleaves the horse, The horse and horseman roll along the hill, They fly once more, they fly, the Norman flies!

Equus cum equite Praecipitatur.

EDITH. O God, the God of truth hath heard my cry. Follow them, follow them, drive them to the sea!

Illorum scelera Poena sequatur!

STIGAND. Truth! no; a lie; a trick, a Norman trick! They turn on the pursuer, horse against foot, They murder all that follow.

EDITH. Have mercy on us!

STIGAND. Hot-headed fools--to burst the wall of shields! They have broken the commandment of the king!

EDITH. His oath was broken--O holy Norman Saints, Ye that are now of heaven, and see beyond Your Norman shrines, pardon it, pardon it, That he forsware himself for all he loved, Me, me and all! Look out upon the battle!

STIGAND. They thunder again upon the barricades. My sight is eagle, but the strife so thick-- This is the hottest of it: hold, ash! hold, willow!

ENGLISH CRIES. Out, out!

NORMAN CRIES. Ha Rou!

STIGAND. Ha! Gurth hath leapt upon him And slain him: he hath fallen.

EDITH. And I am heard. Glory to God in the Highest! fallen, fallen!

STIGAND. No, no, his horse--he mounts another--wields His war-club, dashes it on Gurth, and Gurth, Our noble Gurth, is down!

EDITH. Have mercy on us!

STIGAND. And Leofwin is down!

EDITH. Have mercy on us! O Thou that knowest, let not my strong prayer Be weaken'd in thy sight, because I love The husband of another!

NORMAN CRIES. Ha Rou! Ha Rou!

EDITH. I do not hear our English war-cry.

STIGAND. No.

EDITH. Look out upon the battle--is he safe?

STIGAND. He stands between the banners with the dead So piled about him he can hardly move.

EDITH (takes up the war-cry). Out! out!

NORMAN CRIES. Ha Rou!

EDITH (cries out). Harold and Holy Cross!

NORMAN CRIES. Ha Rou! Ha Rou!

EDITH. What is that whirring sound?

STIGAND. The Norman sends his arrows up to Heaven, They fall on those within the palisade!

EDITH. Look out upon the hill--is Harold there?

STIGAND. Sanguelac--Sanguelac--the arrow--the arrow!--away!



SCENE II--FIELD OF THE DEAD. NIGHT.

ALDWYTH and EDITH.

ALDWYTH. O Edith, art thou here? O Harold, Harold-- Our Harold--we shall never see him more.

EDITH. For there was more than sister in my kiss, And so the saints were wroth. I cannot love them, For they are Norman saints--and yet I should-- They are so much holier than their harlot's son With whom they play'd their game against the king!

ALDWYTH, The king is slain, the kingdom over-thrown!

EDITH. No matter!

ALDWYTH. How no matter, Harold slain?-- I cannot find his body. O help me thou! O Edith, if I ever wrought against thee, Forgive me thou, and help me here!

EDITH. No matter!

ALDWYTH. Not help me, nor forgive me?

EDITH. So thou saidest.

ALDWYTH. I say it now, forgive me!

EDITH. Cross me not! I am seeking one who wedded me in secret. Whisper! God's angels only know it. Ha! What art thou doing here among the dead? They are stripping the dead bodies naked yonder, And thou art come to rob them of their rings!

ALDWYTH. O Edith, Edith, I have lost both crown And husband.

EDITH. So have I.

ALDWYTH. I tell thee, girl, I am seeking my dead Harold.

EDITH. And I mine! The Holy Father strangled him with a hair Of Peter, and his brother Tostig helpt; The wicked sister clapt her hands and laugh'd; Then all the dead fell on him.

ALDWYTH. Edith, Edith--

EDITH. What was he like, this husband? like to thee? Call not for help from me. I knew him not. He lies not here: not close beside the standard. Here fell the truest, manliest hearts of England. Go further hence and find him.

ALDWYTH. She is crazed!

EDITH. That doth not matter either. Lower the light. He must be here.

Enter two CANONS, OSGOD and ATHELRIC, with torches. They turn over the dead bodies and examine them as they pass.

OSGOD. I think that this is Thurkill.

ATHELRIC. More likely Godric.

OSGOD. I am sure this body Is Alfwig, the king's uncle.

ATHELRIC. So it is! No, no--brave Gurth, one gash from brow to knee!

OSGOD. And here is Leofwin.

EDITH. And here is He!

ALDWYTH. Harold? Oh no--nay, if it were--my God, They have so maim'd and murder'd all his face There is no man can swear to him.

EDITH. But one woman! Look you, we never mean to part again. I have found him, I am happy. Was there not someone ask'd me for forgiveness? I yield it freely, being the true wife Of this dead King, who never bore revenge.

Enter COUNT WILLIAM and WILLIAM MALET.

WILLIAM. Who be these women? And what body is this?

EDITH. Harold, thy better!

WILLIAM. Ay, and what art thou?

EDITH. His wife!

MALET. Not true, my girl, here is the Queen! [Pointing out ALDWYTH.

WILLIAM (to ALDWYTH). Wast thou his Queen?

ALDWYTH. I was the Queen of Wales.

WILLIAM. Why then of England. Madam, fear us not. (To MALET.) Knowest thou this other?

MALET. When I visited England, Some held she was his wife in secret--some-- Well--some believed she was his paramour.

EDITH. Norman, thou liest! liars all of you, Your Saints and all! I am his wife! and she-- For look, our marriage ring! [She draws it off the finger of HAROLD. I lost it somehow-- I lost it, playing with it when I was wild. That bred the doubt! but I am wiser now ... I am too wise.... Will none among you all Bear me true witness--only for this once-- That I have found it here again? [She puts it on. And thou, Thy wife am I for ever and evermore. [Falls on the body and dies.

WILLIAM. Death!--and enough of death for this one day, The day of St. Calixtus, and the day, My day when I was born.

MALET. And this dead king's Who, king or not, hath kinglike fought and fallen, His birthday, too. It seems but yestereven I held it with him in his English halls, His day, with all his rooftree ringing 'Harold,' Before he fell into the snare of Guy; When all men counted Harold would be king, And Harold was most happy.

WILLIAM. Thou art half English Take them away! Malet, I vow to build a church to God Here on the hill of battle; let our high altar Stand where their standard fell ... where these two lie. Take them away, I do not love to see them. Pluck the dead woman off the dead man, Malet!

MALET. Faster than ivy. Must I hack her arms off? How shall I part them?

WILLIAM. Leave them. Let them be! Bury him and his paramour together. He that was false in oath to me, it seems Was false to his own wife. We will not give him A Christian burial: yet he was a warrior, And wise, yea truthful, till that blighted vow Which God avenged to-day. Wrap them together in a purple cloak And lay them both upon the waste sea-shore At Hastings, there to guard the land for which He did forswear himself--a warrior--ay, And but that Holy Peter fought for us, And that the false Northumbrian held aloof, And save for that chance arrow which the Saints Sharpen'd and sent against him--who can tell?-- Three horses had I slain beneath me: twice I thought that all was lost. Since I knew battle, And that was from my boyhood, never yet-- No, by the splendour of God--have I fought men Like Harold and his brethren, and his guard Of English. Every man about his king Fell where he stood. They loved him: and, pray God My Normans may but move as true with me To the door of death. Of one self-stock at first, Make them again one people--Norman, English; And English, Norman; we should have a hand To grasp the world with, and a foot to stamp it ... Flat. Praise the Saints, It is over. No more blood! I am king of England, so they thwart me not, And I will rule according to their laws. (To ALDWYTH.) Madam, we will entreat thee with all honour.

ALDWYTH. My punishment is more than I can bear.


THE END.

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Lord Alfred Tennyson

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