The Prophecy of Queen Emma

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The Prophecy of Queen Emma  (1782) 
William Julius Mickle

O'er the hills of Cheviot beaming
Rose the silver dawn of May;
Hostile spears and helmets gleaming
Swelled along the mountain gray.

Edwin's warlike horn resounded
Through the winding dales below,
And the echoing hills rebounded
The defiance of the foe.

O'er the downs like torrents pouring,
Edwin's horsemen rushed along,
From the hills like tempests louring,
Slowly marched stern Edgar's throng.

Spear to spear was now protended,
And the yew bows half were drawn,
When the female scream ascended,
Shrilling o'er the crowded lawn.

While her virgins, round her weeping,
Waved aloft their snowy hands,
From the wood Queen Emma shrieking
Ran between the dreadful bands:

'Oh, my sons, what rage infernal
Bids you grasp the' unhallow'd spear!
Heaven detests the war fraternal:
Oh, the impious strife forbear!

'Ah, how mild and sweetly tender
Flow'd your peaceful early days!
Each was then of each defender,
Each of each the pride and praise.

'O my first-born Edwin, soften,
Nor invade thy brother's right;
O my Edgar, think how often
Edwin dared for thee the fight.

'Edgar! shall thy impious fury
Dare thy guardian to the field?
Oh, my sons, let peace allure ye;
Thy stem claims, O Edwin, yield.

'Ha, what sight of horror waving,
Sullen Edgar, clouds thy rear!
Bring'st thou Denmark's banners braving
Thy insulted brother's spear?

'Ah, bethink how through thy regions
Midnight horror fearful how I'd,
When, like wolves, the Danish legions
Through thy trembling forests prowl'd;

'When, unable of resistance,
Denmark's lance thy bosom gored——
And shall Edwin's brave assistance
Be repaid with Denmark's sword?

'With that sword shalt thou assail him
From whose point he set thee free,
While his warlike sinews fail him,
Weak with loss of blood for thee?

'Oh, my Edwin, timely hearken,
And thy stem resolves forbear:
Shall revenge thy councils darken?
Oh, my Edgar, drop the spear!

'Wisdom tells and Justice offers
How each wound may yet be balm'd:
Oh, revere these holy proffers;
Let the storms of hell be calm'd.

'Oh, my sons'——But all her sorrows
Fired their impious rage the more:
From the bow-strings sprung the arrows;
Soon the valleys reek'd with gore.

Shrieking wild, with horror shivering,
Fled the queen all stain'd with blood,
In her purple bosom quivering,
Deep a feather'd arrow stood.

Up the mountain she ascended
Fierce as mounts the flame in air;
And her hands, to heaven extended,
Scatter'd her uprooted hair:

'Ah, my sons, how impious, covered
With each other's blood,' she cried:
While the eagles round her hover'd,
And wild scream for scream replied—

'From that blood around you steaming,
Turn, my sons, your vengeful eyes;
See what horrors o'er you streaming,
Muster round the' offended skies.

'See what burning spears protended,
Couch'd by fire-eyed spectres, glare,
Circling round you both, suspended
On the trembling threads of air!

'O'er you both Heaven's lightning volleys,
Wither'd is your strength e'en now;
Idly weeping o'er your follies,
Soon your heads shall lowly bow.

'Soon the Dane, the Scot, and Norman,
O'er your dales shall havoc pour,
Every hold and city storming,
Every herd and field devour.

'Ha, what signal new arising
Through the dreadful group prevails!
'Tis the hand of Justice poising
High aloft the' eternal scales.

'Loaded with thy base alliance,
Rage and rancour all extreme,
Faith and honour's foul defiance,
Thine, O Edgar, kicks the beam!

'Opening mild and blue, reversing
O'er thy brother's wasted hills,
See the murky clouds dispersing,
And the fertile shower distils.

'But o'er thy devoted valleys
Blacker spreads the angry sky;
Through the gloom pale lightning sallies,
Distant thunders groan and die.

'O'er thy proudest castles waving,
Fed by hell and magic power,
Denmark towers on high her raven,
Hatch'd in Freedom's mortal hour.

'"Cursed be the day detested,
Cursed be the fraud profound,
When on Denmark's spear we rested,"
Through thy streets shall loud resound.

'To thy brother sad imploring,
Now I see thee turn thine eyes—
Ha, in settled darkness louring,
Now no more the visions rise!

'But thy rancorous soul descending
To thy sons from age to age,
Province then from province rending,
War on war shall bleed and rage.

'This thy freedom proudly boasted,
Hapless Edgar!' loud she cried—
With her wounds and woes exhausted,
Down on earth she sunk, and died.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.