1798
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Battle of Bosworth. An Eclogue.

Morning Post and Gazetteer (1 October 1798).

Robert Southey


An eclogue after the manner of Thomas Chatterton, done into quatrains. The woman, encountering a traveler from the action at Bosworth, demands news of her young man: "Oh! tell me, tell me, Traveller, | If you a Youth have seen— | A comely Youth in Richmond's host, | Array'd in Kendal green?" Once might compare Chatterton's much-admired Elinoure and Juga, though the use of ballad stanzas in an eclogue is original. Chatterton was often imitated without archaisms. The poem is not signed. The attribution is from Kenneth Curry, The Contributions of Robert Southey to the Morning Post (1984). Southey contributed over two hundred poems to the Morning Post over a five-year period.

Mary Russell Mitford: "As to his poetry, I suspect people of liking it better than they say. He was not Milton or Shakspeare, to be sure; but are we to read nobody but Shakspeare or Milton?" Recollections of a Literary Life; or Books, Places, and People (1852) 391-92.



WOMAN.
What news — what news — O Traveller!
What tidings of the fight?
I have been watchful all day long—
I watch'd all yester'night.
No Traveller has past this way—
No tidings reach'd mine ear;
And I have watch'd, and watch'd for news,
'Till I am sick with fear.

TRAVELLER.
'Tis done — the victory is gain'd;
And I past thro' Bosworth town,
And in a cart his carcase saw
Who lately wore a Crown.
I heard the Conqu'ror's army make
With shouts the welkin ring:
I heard the clamours that proclaim'd
Young Richmond England's King.

WOMAN.
Oh! tell me, tell me, Traveller,
If you a Youth have seen—
A comely Youth in Richmond's host,
Array'd in Kendal green?

TRAVELLER.
Many a gallant Warrior there,
And comely, I have seen;
There's many a Youth in Richmond's host
Array'd in Kendal-green.

WOMAN.
His eye is black — so black and bright!
His raven locks are long,
And he is one you could not chuse
But notice 'mid the throng.

TRAVELLER.
Beneath a helm I could not see
His raven locks so long;
And sooth to say I did not stay
To gaze amid the throng;
I just beheld young Richmond pass,
And then I hasten'd on.

WOMAN.
Dead! dead! oh God! he must be dead!
Or sure this could not be!
He would have ask'd you where you went,
That he might send to me:
He would have let no Traveller
Now pass unquestion'd by;
For well he knows how I should watch,
And wait in agony.

TRAVELLER.
Cheer up! cheer up! and take good hope,
I did but hurry by;
And like it is that he might not
A single Trav'ller spy.
Cheer up! cheer up! and hope the best,
And spare these hasty tears;
A little while, and he may come,
And you forget your fears.

WOMAN.
Oh! tell me, Trav'ller, did you pass
Across the bloody plain—
And did you see no comely Youth
Like him among the slain?

TRAVELLER.
Many a comely Youth I saw
Upon that bloody plain;
Many a groaning wretch I heard
Half dead amid the slain:
Christ grant that may never see
So sad a sight again!

WOMAN.
You saw him — yet you will not tell:
You saw him — he is dead!
O! tell me — tell me — any thing
Were better than this dread!

TRAVELLER.
I hasten'd o'er the hateful plain,
And saw the suff'rer there.
Take comfort — I will, as I go,
Remember you in pray'r.

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