Battle of Brunanburh

Original Text: 
Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ballads and other poems (London: C. K. Paul, 1880). PR 5555 B3 1880 ROBA. Alfred lord Tennyson, Works (London: Macmillan, 1891). tenn T366 A1 1891a Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
Constantinus, King of the Scots, after having sworn allegiance to Athelstan, allied himself with the Danes of Ireland under Anlaf, and invading England, was defeated by Athelstan and his brother Edmund with great slaughter at Brunanburh in the year 937.
1      Athelstan King,
2      Lord among Earls,
3      Bracelet-bestower and
4      Baron of Barons,
5      He with his brother,
6      Edmund Atheling,
7      Gaining a lifelong
8      Glory in battle,
9      Slew with the sword-edge
10      There by Brunanburh,
11      Brake the shield-wall,
12      Hew'd the lindenwood,
13      Hack'd the battleshield,
14Sons of Edward with hammer'd brands.
15      Theirs was a greatness
16      Got from their Grandsires--
17      Theirs that so often in
18      Strife with their enemies
19Struck for their hoards and their hearths and their homes.
20      Bow'd the spoiler,
21      Bent the Scotsman,
22      Fell the shipcrews
23      Doom'd to the death.
24All the field with blood of the fighters
25      Flow'd, from when first the great
26      Sun-star of morningtide,
27      Lamp of the Lord God
28      Lord everlasting,
29Glode over earth till the glorious creature
30      Sank to his setting.
31      There lay many a man
32      Marr'd by the javelin,
33      Men of the Northland
34      Shot over shield.
35      There was the Scotsman
36      Weary of war.
37      We the West-Saxons,
38      Long as the daylight
39      Lasted, in companies
40Troubled the track of the host that we hated;
41Grimly with swords that were sharp from the grindstone
42Fiercely we hack'd at the flyers before us.
43      Mighty the Mercian,
44      Hard was his hand-play,
45      Sparing not any of
46      Those that with Anlaf,
47      Warriors over the
48      Weltering waters
49      Borne in the bark's-bosom,
50      Drew to this island:
51      Doom'd to the death.
52  Five young kings put asleep by the sword-stroke,
53Seven strong earls of the army of Anlaf
54Fell on the war-field, numberless numbers,
55Shipmen and Scotsmen.
56      Then the Norse leader,
57      Dire was his need of it,
58      Few were his following,
59      Fled to his warship;
60Fleeted his vessel to sea with the king in it,
61Saving his life on the fallow flood.
62      Also the crafty one,
63      Constantinus,
64      Crept to his north again,
65      Hoar-headed hero!
66      Slender warrant had
67      He to be proud of
68      The welcome of war-knives--
69      He that was reft of his
70      Folk and his friends that had
71      Fallen in conflict,
72      Leaving his son too
73      Lost in the carnage,
74      Mangled to morsels,
75      A youngster in war!
76      Slender reason had
77      He to be glad of
78      The clash of the war-glaive--
79      Traitor and trickster
80      And spurner of treaties--
81      He nor had Anlaf
82      With armies so broken
83      A reason for bragging
84      That they had the better
85      In perils of battle
86      On places of slaughter--
87      The struggle of standards,
88      The rush of the javelins,
89      The crash of the charges,
90      The wielding of weapons--
91      The play that they play'd with
92      The children of Edward.
93      Then with their nail'd prows
94      Parted the Norsemen, a
95      Blood-redden'd relic of
96      Javelins over
97The jarring breaker, the deep-sea billow,
98Shaping their way toward Dyflen again,
99      Shamed in their souls.
100      Also the brethren,
101      King and Atheling,
102      Each in his glory,
103Went to his own in his own West-Saxonland,
104      Glad of the war.
105  Many a carcase they left to be carrion,
106Many a livid one, many a sallow-skin--
107Left for the white-tail'd eagle to tear it, and
108Left for the horny-nibb'd raven to rend it, and
109Gave to the garbaging war-hawk to gorge it, and
110That gray beast, the wolf of the weald.
111      Never had huger
112      Slaughter of heroes
113      Slain by the sword-edge--
114      Such as old writers
115      Have writ of in histories--
116      Hapt in this isle, since
117      Up from the East hither
118      Saxon and Angle from
119      Over the broad billow
120      Broke into Britain with
121      Haughty war-workers who
122      Harried the Welshman, when
123      Earls that were lured by the
124      Hunger of glory gat
125      Hold of the land.
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
J. D. Robins
RPO Edition: 
2RP 2.411.