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Leave to the captives none. The recreant slaves
XLI.-THE BALLAD OF ROU.
Rou was the name given by the French to Rollo, or Rolf-ganger, the ancestor
of William the Conqueror, and the planter of the Norman settlement in France.
FROM Blois to-Senlis, wave by wave, rolled on the Norman
flood, And Frank on Frank went drifting down the weltering tide
of blood; There was not left in all the land a castle wall to fire, And not a wife but wailed a lord, a child but mourned a sire. To Charles the king, the mitred monks, the mailed barons
While, shaking earth, behind them strode the thunder
march of Rou.
“O king,” then cried those barons bold, “in vain are mace
and mail; We fall before the Norman axe, as corn before the hail." “And vainly,” cried the pious monks,“ by Mary's shrine
we kneel; For prayers, like arrows, glance aside, against the Norman
steel.” The barons groaned, the shavelings wept, while near and
nearer drew, As death-birds round their scented feast, the raven flags of
Then said King Charles, “ Where thousands fail, what king
can stand alone ? The strength of kings is in the men that gather round the
throne. When war dismays my barons bold, 'tis time for war to
cease; When Heaven forsakes my pious monks, the will of Heaven
Go forth, my monks, with mass and rood, the Norman
camp unto, And to the fold, with shepherd crook, entice this grisly Rou.
“I'll give him all the ocean coast, from Michael Mount to
Eure, And Gille, my child, shall be his bride, to bind him fast
and sure ;
Let him but kiss the Christian cross, and sheathe the
heathen sword, And hold the lands I cannot keep, a fief from Charles his
lord.” Forth went the pastors of the Church, the shepherd's work
And wrap the golden fleece around the tiger loins of Rou.
Psalm-chanting came the shaven monks, within the camp
of dread; Amidst his warriors, Norman Rou stood taller by the
head. Out spoke the Frank archbishop then, a priest devout and
sage, “When peace and plenty wait thy word, what need of war
and rage ? Why waste a land as fair as aught beneath the arch of blue, Which might be thine to sow and reap Thus saith the
king to Rou:
“I'll give thee all the ocean coast, from Michael Mount to
Eure, And Gille, my fairest child, as bride, to bind thee fast and
sure; If thou but kneel to Christ our God, and sheathe thy
paynim sword, And hold thy land, the Church's son, a fief from Charles
The Norman on his warriors looked—to counsel they with
The saints took pity on the Franks, and moved the soul of
So back he strode, and thus he spoke to that archbishop
meek : “I take the land thy king bestows, from Eure to Michael
peak; I take the maid, or foul or fair, a bargain with the coast; And for thy creed, a sea-king's gods are those that give the
most. So hie thee back, and tell thy chief to make his proffer
true, And he shall find a docile son, and ye a saint, in Rou.”
So o'er the border stream of Epte came Rou the Norman,
where, Begirt with barons, sat the king, enthroned at green St.
He placed his hand in Charles's hand, -loud shouted all
the throng; But tears were in King Charles's eyes—the grip of Rou was
strong. “Now kiss the foot," the bishop said, “ that homage still is
due;" Then dark the frown and stern the smile of that grim
He takes the foot, as if the foot to slavish lips to bring : The Normans scowl; he tilts the throne, and backward
falls the king! Loud laugh the joyous Norman men-pale stare the Franks
aghast; And Rou lifts up his head as from the wind springs up the
mast: "I said I would adore a God, but not a mortal too; The foot that fled before a foe let cowards kiss !” said Rou.
In you let the minions of luxury rove;
For still they are sacred to freedom and love:
Round their white summits though elements war; Though cataracts foam, 'stead of smooth flowing fountains,
I sigh for the valley of dark Loch-na-Garr.
Ah! there my young footsteps in infancy wandered :
My cap was the bonnet, my cloak was the plaid ; On chieftains long perished my memory pondered,
As daily I strode through the pine-covered glade : I sought not my home till the day's dying glory
Gave place to the rays of the bright polar star ; For fancy was cheered by traditional story,
Disclosed by the natives of dark Loch-na-Garr.
“Shades of the dead ! have I not heard your voices
Rise on the night-rolling breath of the gale ?” Surely the soul of the hero rejoices,
And rides on the wind o'er his own Highland vale.
Winter presides in his cold icy car ;
They dwell in the tempests of dark Loch-na-Garr. 'Ill-starred, though brave, did no visions foreboding Tell you that fate had forsaken your cause ?”