Page:Early poems of William Morris.djvu/157

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Concerning Geffray Teste Noire

Often, God help me! I remember when
I was a simple boy, fifteen years old,
The Jacquerie froze up the blood of men
With their fell deeds, not fit now to be told:

God help again! we enter'd Beauvais town,
Slaying them fast, whereto I help'd, mere boy
As I was then; we gentles cut them down,
These burners and defilers, with great joy.

Reason for that, too, in the great church there
These fiends had lit a fire, that soon went out,
The church at Beauvais being so great and fair—
My father, who was by me, gave a shout

Between a beast's howl and a woman's scream,
Then, panting, chuckled to me: "John, look! look!
Count the dames' skeletons!" From some bad dream
Like a man just awaked, my father shook;

And I, being faint with smelling the burnt bones,
And very hot with fighting down the street,
And sick of such a life, fell down, with groans
My head went weakly nodding to my feet.—

—An arrow had gone through her tender throat.
And her right wrist was broken; then I saw
The reason why she had on that war-coat,
Their story came out clear without a flaw;

For when he knew that they were being waylaid.
He threw it over her, yea, hood and all;
Whereby he was much hack'd, while they were stay'd
By those their murderers; many an one did fall