by Edward Rowland Still
This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:—
There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;
And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince's banner
Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.
A craven hung along the battle's edge,
And thought, "Had I a sword of keener steel—
That blue blade that the king's son bears,—but this
Blunt thing—!" He snapped and flung it from his hand,
And lowering crept away and left the field.
Then came the king's son, wounded sore bested,
And weaponless, and saw the broken sword
Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout
Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down
And saved a great cause that heroic day.
* * *
Bruce and the Spider
by Bernard Barton
For Scotland's and for freedom's right
The Bruce his part had played,
In five successive fields of fight
Been conquered and dismayed;
Once more against the English host
His band he led, and once more lost
The meed for which he fought;
And now from battle, faint and worn,
The homeless fugitive forlorn
A hut's lone shelter sought.
And cheerless was that resting place
For him who claimed a throne:
His canopy, devoid of grace,
The rude, rough beams alone;
The heather couch his only bed—
Yet well I ween had slumber fled
From couch of eiderdown!
Through darksome night till dawn of day,
Absorbed in wakeful thoughts he lay
Of Scotland and her crown.
The sun rose brightly, and its gleam
Fell on that hapless bed,
And tinged with light each shapeless beam
Which roofed the lowly shed;
When, looking up with wistful eye,
The Bruce beheld a spider try
His filmy thread to fling
From beam to beam of that rude cot;
And well the insect's toilsome lot
Taught Scotland's future king.
Six times his gossamery thread
The wary spider threw;
In vain the filmy line was sped,
For powerless or untrue
Each aim appeared, and back recoiled
The patient insect, six times foiled,
And yet unconquered still;
And soon the Bruce, with eager eye,
Saw him prepare once more to try
His courage, strength, and skill.
One effort more, his seventh and last—
The hero hailed the sign!—
And on the wished-for beam hung fast
That slender, silken line!
Slight as it was, his spirit caught
The more than omen, for his thought
The lesson well could trace,
Which even "he who runs may read,"
That Perseverance gains its meed,
And Patience wins the race.
..."which hath good recompense of reward" (Heb. 10:35).
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