Page:A book of myths.djvu/322

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ROLAND THE PALADIN

"Roland, the flower of chivalry,
"Expired at Roncevall."—Thomas Campbell.

"Hero-worship endures for ever while man endures."—Carlyle.

"Roland, the gode knight."—Turpin's History of Charlemagne.

The old chroniclers tell us that on that momentous morning when William the Conqueror led his army to victory at Hastings, a Norman knight named Taillefer (and a figure of iron surely was his) spurred his horse to the front. In face of the enemy who hated all things that had to do with France, he lifted up his voice and chanted aloud the exploits of Charlemagne and of Roland. As he sang, he threw his sword in the air and always caught it in his right hand as it fell, and, proudly, the whole army, moving at once, joined with him in the Chanson de Roland, and shouted, as chorus, "God be our help! God be our help!"

"Taillefer … chantoit de Rollant
"Et d'Olivier, et de Vassaux
"Qui mourent en Rainschevaux."

Wace, Roman de Rose.

Fifteen thousand of those who sang fell on that bloody day, and one wonders how many of those who went down to the Shades owed half their desperate courage to the remembrance of the magnificent deeds

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