Harold: A Drama

Act V

Scene II

Alfred Tennyson

Field of the Dead. Night.


O Edith, art thou here? O Harold, Harold—
Our Harold—we shall never see him more.

For there was more than sister in my kiss,
And so the saints were wroth. I cannot love them,
For they are Norman saints—and yet I should—
They are so much holier than their harlot’s son
With whom they play’d their game against the king!

The king is slain, the kingdom over-thrown!

No matter!

                How no matter, Harold slain?—
I cannot find his body. O help me thou!
O Edith, if I ever wrought against thee,
Forgive me thou, and help me here!

                        No matter!

Not help me, nor forgive me?

                                So thou saidest.

I say it now, forgive me!

                        Cross me not!
I am seeking one who wedded me in secret.
Whisper! God’s angels only know it. Ha!
What art thou doing here among the dead?
They are stripping the dead bodies naked yonder,
And thou art come to rob them of their rings!

O Edith, Edith, I have lost both crown
And husband.

                So have I.

                I tell thee, girl,
I am seeking my dead Harold.

                        And I mine!
The Holy Father strangled him with a hair
Of Peter, and his brother Tostig helpt;
The wicked sister clapt her hands and laugh’d;
Then all the dead fell on him.

                        Edith, Edith—

What was he like, this husband? like to thee?
Call not for help from me. I knew him not.
He lies not here: not close beside the standard.
Here fell the truest, manliest hearts of England.
Go further hence and find him.

                        She is crazed!

That doth not matter either. Lower the light.
He must be here.

Enter two CANONS, OSGOD and ATHELRIC, with torches. They turn over the dead bodies and examine them as they pass.

                I think that this is Thurkill.

More likely Godric.

                        I am sure this body
Is Alfwig, the king’s uncle.

                        So it is!
No, no—brave Gurth, one gash from brow to knee!

And here is Leofwin.

                        And here is He!

Harold? Oh no—nay, if it were—my God,
They have so maim’d and murder’d all his face
There is no man can swear to him.

                                But one woman!
Look you, we never mean to part again.
I have found him, I am happy.
Was there not someone ask’d me for forgiveness?
I yield it freely, being the true wife
Of this dead King, who never bore revenge.


Who be these women? And what body is this?

Harold, thy better!

                        Ay, and what art thou?

His wife!

                Not true, my girl, here is the Queen!

[Pointing out ALDWYTH.

Wast thou his Queen?

                I was the Queen of Wales.

Why then of England. Madam, fear us not.
(To MALET.) Knowest thou this other?

                                When I visited England,
Some held she was his wife in secret—some—
Well—some believed she was his paramour.

Norman, thou liest! liars all of you,
Your Saints and all! I am his wife! and she—
For look, our marriage ring!

[She draws it off the finger of HAROLD.
                        I lost it somehow—
I lost it, playing with it when I was wild.
That bred the doubt! but I am wiser now . . . 
I am too wise. . . . Will none among you all
Bear me true witness—only for this once—
That I have found it here again?        [She puts it on.
                        And thou,
Thy wife am I for ever and evermore.
[Falls on the body and dies.

Death!—and enough of death for this one day,
The day of St. Calixtus, and the day,
My day when I was born.

                        And this dead king’s
Who, king or not, hath kinglike fought and fallen,
His birthday, too. It seems but yestereven
I held it with him in his English halls,
His day, with all his rooftree ringing ‘Harold,’
Before he fell into the snare of Guy;
When all men counted Harold would be king,
And Harold was most happy.

                        Thou art half English
Take them away!
Malet, I vow to build a church to God
Here on the hill of battle; let our high altar
Stand where their standard fell . . . where these two lie.
Take them away, I do not love to see them.
Pluck the dead woman off the dead man, Malet!

Faster than ivy. Must I hack her arms off?
How shall I part them?

                Leave them. Let them be!
Bury him and his paramour together.
He that was false in oath to me, it seems
Was false to his own wife. We will not give him
A Christian burial: yet he was a warrior,
And wise, yea truthful, till that blighted vow
Which God avenged to-day.
Wrap them together in a purple cloak
And lay them both upon the waste sea-shore
At Hastings, there to guard the land for which
He did forswear himself—a warrior—ay,
And but that Holy Peter fought for us,
And that the false Northumbrian held aloof,
And save for that chance arrow which the Saints
Sharpen’d and sent against him—who can tell?—
Three horses had I slain beneath me: twice
I thought that all was lost. Since I knew battle,
And that was from my boyhood, never yet—
No, by the splendour of God—have I fought men
Like Harold and his brethren, and his guard
Of English. Every man about his king
Fell where he stood. They loved him: and, pray God
My Normans may but move as true with me
To the door of death. Of one self-stock at first,
Make them again one people—Norman, English;
And English, Norman; we should have a hand
To grasp the world with, and a foot to stamp it . . . 
Flat. Praise the Saints, It is over. No more blood!
I am king of England, so they thwart me not,
And I will rule according to their laws.
(To ALDWYTH.) Madam, we will entreat thee with all honour.

My punishment is more than I can bear.

Harold: A Drama - Contents

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