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WHEN winter yelled through the leafless grove; when the black waves rode over the roaring winds, and the dark-brown clouds hid the face of the sun; when the silver brook stood still, and snow environed the top of the lofty mountain; when the flowers appeared not in the blasted fields, and the boughs of the leafless trees bent with the loads of ice; when the howling of the wolf affrighted the darkly glimmering light of the western sky; Kenrick, terrible as the tempest, young as the snake of the valley, strong as the mountain of the slain; his armour shining like the stars in the dark night, when the moon is veiled in sable, and the blasting winds howl over the wide plain; his shield like the black rock, prepared himself for war.

Ceolwolf of the high mountain, who viewed the first rays of the morning star, swift as the flying deer, strong as a young oak, fierce as an evening[Page 12] wolf, drew his sword; glittering like the blue vapours in the valley of Horso; terrible as the red lightning, bursting from the dark-brown clouds: his swift bark rode over the foaming waves, like the wind in the tempest; the arches fell at his blow, and he wrapt the towers in flames; he followed Kenrick, like a wolf roaming for prey.

Centwin of the vale arose, he seized the massy spear; terrible was his voice, great was his strength; he hurled the rocks into the sea, and broke the strong oaks of the forest. Slow in the race as the minutes of impatience. His spear, like the fury of a thunderbolt, swept down whole armies; his enemies melted before him, like the stones of hail at the approach of the sun.

Awake, O Eldulph! Thou that sleepest on the white mountain, with the fairest of women; no more pursue the dark-brown wolf; arise from the mossy bank of the falling waters; let thy garments be stained in blood, and the streams of life discolour thy girdle; let thy flowing hair be hid in a helmet, and thy beauteous countenance be writhed into terror.

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Egward, keeper of the barks, arise like the roaring waves of the sea: pursue the black companies of the enemy.

Ye Saxons, who live in the air and glide over the stars, act like yourselves.

Like the murmuring voice of the Severn, swelled with rain, the Saxons moved along; like a blazing star the sword of Kenrick shone among the Britons; Tenyan bled at his feet; like the red lightning of heaven he burnt up the ranks of his enemy.

Centwin raged like a wild boar. Tatward sported in blood, armies melted at his stroke. Eldulph was a flaming vapour, destruction sat upon his sword. Ceolwolf was drenched in gore, but fell like a rock before the sword of Mervin.

Egward pursued the slayer of his friend; the blood of Mervin smoked on his hand.

Like the rage of a tempest was the noise of the battle; like the roaring of the torrent, gushing from the brow of the lofty mountain.

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The Britons fled, like a black cloud dropping hail, flying before the howling winds.

Ye virgins! arise and welcome back the pursuers; deck their brows with chaplets of jewels; spread the branches of the oak beneath their feet. Kenrick is returned from the war, the clotted gore hangs terrible upon his crooked sword, like the noxious vapours on the black rock; his knees are red with the gore of the foe.

Ye sons of the song, sound the instruments of music; ye virgins, dance around him.

Costan of the lake, arise, take thy harp from the willow, sing the praise of Kenrick, to the sweet sound of the white waves sinking to the foundation of the black rock.

Rejoice, O ye Saxons! Kenrick is victorious.


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About this text

Genres: prose poem; imitation; translation; paraphrase

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Source edition

Chatterton, Thomas, 1752-1770. Miscellanies in Prose and Verse; by Thomas Chatterton, the supposed author of the poems published under the names of Rowley, Canning, &c. London: printed for Fielding and Walker, Pater-Noster Row, MDCCLXXVIII., 1778, pp. 11-14. xxxii,245,[3]p.,plates; 8⁰. (ESTC T39457; OTA K039720.000)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

Other works by Thomas Chatterton