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Ye Wearie Wayfarer, Hys Ballad In Eight Fyttes
by [?]

Fytte I

By Wood and Wold
[A Preamble]

“Beneath the greenwood bough.”–W. Scott.

Lightly the breath of the spring wind blows,
Though laden with faint perfume,
‘Tis the fragrance rare that the bushman knows,
The scent of the wattle bloom.
Two-thirds of our journey at least are done,
Old horse! let us take a spell
In the shade from the glare of the noonday sun,
Thus far we have travell’d well;
Your bridle I’ll slip, your saddle ungirth,
And lay them beside this log,
For you’ll roll in that track of reddish earth,
And shake like a water-dog.

Upon yonder rise there’s a clump of trees–
Their shadows look cool and broad–
You can crop the grass as fast as you please,
While I stretch my limbs on the sward;
‘Tis pleasant, I ween, with a leafy screen
O’er the weary head, to lie
On the mossy carpet of emerald green,
‘Neath the vault of the azure sky;
Thus all alone by the wood and wold,
I yield myself once again
To the memories old that, like tales fresh told,
Come flitting across the brain.

Fytte II

By Flood and Field
[A Legend of the Cottiswold]

“They have saddled a hundred milk-white steeds,
They have bridled a hundred black.”–Old Ballad.
“He turned in his saddle, now follow who dare.
I ride for my country, quoth —-.”

I remember the lowering wintry morn,
And the mist on the Cotswold hills,
Where I once heard the blast of the huntsman’s horn,
Not far from the seven rills.
Jack Esdale was there, and Hugh St. Clair,
Bob Chapman and Andrew Kerr,
And big George Griffiths on Devil-May-Care,
And–black Tom Oliver.
And one who rode on a dark-brown steed,
Clean jointed, sinewy, spare,
With the lean game head of the Blacklock breed,
And the resolute eye that loves the lead,
And the quarters massive and square–
A tower of strength, with a promise of speed
(There was Celtic blood in the pair).

I remember how merry a start we got,
When the red fox broke from the gorse,
In a country so deep, with a scent so hot,
That the hound could outpace the horse;
I remember how few in the front rank shew’d,
How endless appeared the tail,
On the brown hill-side, where we cross’d the road,
And headed towards the vale.
The dark-brown steed on the left was there,
On the right was a dappled grey,
And between the pair, on a chestnut mare,
The duffer who writes this lay.
What business had “this child” there to ride?
But little or none at all;
Yet I held my own for a while in “the pride
That goeth before a fall.”
Though rashness can hope for but one result,
We are heedless when fate draws nigh us,
And the maxim holds good, “Quem perdere vult
Deus, dementat prius.”

The right hand man to the left hand said,
As down in the vale we went,
“Harden your heart like a millstone, Ned,
And set your face as flint;
Solid and tall is the rasping wall
That stretches before us yonder;
You must have it at speed or not at all,
‘Twere better to halt than to ponder,
For the stream runs wide on the take-off side,
And washes the clay bank under;
Here goes for a pull, ’tis a madman’s ride,
And a broken neck if you blunder.”

No word in reply his comrade spoke,
Nor waver’d nor once look’d round,
But I saw him shorten his horse’s stroke
As we splash’d through the marshy ground;
I remember the laugh that all the while
On his quiet features play’d:–
So he rode to his death, with that careless smile,
In the van of the “Light Brigade”;
So stricken by Russian grape, the cheer
Rang out, while he toppled back,
From the shattered lungs as merry and clear
As it did when it roused the pack.
Let never a tear his memory stain,
Give his ashes never a sigh,
One of many who perished, NOT IN VAIN,