The Saxon and the Norman
by Andrew Austin

        There was a Saxon knight who swore,
                To slay his Norman foe,
        There was a Norman knight who swore,
                The Saxon he would show,
        What hatred he did have at mind -
                The Saxon harbored hate in kind.
        And thus from crib to manhood did,
                Their bloodfeud spring and grow.

        Two men of different people's birth,
                From different distant lands,
        For reasons ancient, long forgot,
                That no one understands,
        The two of them were locked in rage,
                That doves of peace could not assuage,
        And then one day they met to fight,
                With strong and willing hands.

        "Well I'll not talk," the Saxon snapped,
                "To lowly likes as you,
        Who came and stripped my land of pride,
                And told us what to do."
        The Saxon sneered through gritted teeth,
                And slid his shining sword from sheathe,
        "For all the years you called me 'peasant',
                Now your time is through."

        The Norman said, "This land was built,
                By sages of my race,
        Who sought to make things right again,
                That Saxons would deface.
        For all the years you mocked and scorned,
                Of things we Normans held adorned,
        I'll grind you to the ground,
                By God and Virgin Mary's grace."

        Advance, they did in fighting stance,
                A-swaying sword and shield,
        But stopped, a sudden shout has sounded,
                Bid them off the field.
        She was a seer, so they say.
                She fearless ran between the fray,
        And said, "Forget you flaring feud,
                And bitter words you wield."

        "While others are in need,
                You waste your time in private war.
        You satisfy your egos,
                When you ought be doing more.
        A brigand band is pressing down,
                To strike my poor defenseless town!
        What evil fate for helpless folk,
                The raiders have in store."

        "And you'll not save such helpless folk,
                Not set your feud aside?
        They'll heap our harvest, hack our homes,
                There's no place here to hide!"
        The Norman threw a haughty word,
                "A Saxon ally? That's absurd!"
        The Saxon spat, "I shall not fight,
                With Normans at my side."

        And while these two were obsinant,
                Against the seer's cries.
        An evil fell upon the ville,
                Like raindrops from the skies.
        The raider's ran in roaring rage,
                To ply their craft of brigandage.
        A haling heat so hot,
                The hearts of men it petrifies.

        They, wielding weapons, wound their way,
                Amidst the burning shacks.
        The peasant fled in futile fear,
                So fell were mace and axe.
        The women wailed, the children wept,
                But no remorse or pity kept,
        The brigands as they bashed ahead,
                With baneful base attacks.

        They laughed, they leered, delighted,
                When they listened to the wail,
        And then they chased some women,
                Who retreated down a trail.
        But they were halted on their way,
                To seize their small, intended prey,
        By two men wearing belts of white,
                And wearing war-worn mail.

        The fetid brigand chieftain frowned,
                "You fools are fancy foe.
        We shall but hack you both to death,
                Unless you turn and go.
        So let us have our little fun,
                You've got one chance to live and run."
        The Saxon slowly shook his head,
                The Norman murmured "No."

        The two of them got ready,
                As the raiders circled in,
        Their bigotry forgotten,
                In their desperate need to win.
        To ally 'gainst this heinous horde,
                Had made them brothers of the sword,
        For honor knows not boundries drawn,
                By creed or shade of skin.

        The brigands chuckled, charged the two,
                Their chortles bloodlust filled.
        And by the Saxons hand the Chieftain's blood,
                Was quickly spilled.
        Then two assailed the Saxon knight,
                He showed them how the Saxons fight,
        With shield he set their swords aside,
                And soon these foes were killed.

        The Norman blocked each thrust and blow,
                The brigands sought to bring.
        An axe approached his head,
                His skill deflected every swing.
        He feinted towards a foeman's head,
                Then downward fast his weapon sped,
        And took the bandit's leg,
                The man was crippled 'neath the sting.

        And two more sought to strike the Norman,
                Looming from the left;
        The Saxon swung and slew he one,
                The skull by sword was cleft.
        The second tried to make a stab,
                The Norman deftly dodged the jab,
        The brigand, off his balance,
                By the Norman was bereft.

        A stealthy spear was sallied,
                At the Saxon knight it sailed.
        The Saxon saw the shaft and spun,
                But lo, his parry failed.
        The Norman saw a bitter end,
                Had met his newly founded friend.
        The gruesome glaive and ground its goal -
                The Saxon lay impaled.

        The Norman's fury fever-flared;
                He fought with ferver new.
        But twelve opponents pounced at once,
                And pushed and piled and threw.
        Though gallant fight the Norman gave,
                They cut him down by axe and glaive.
        The Norman did in dolour die,
                Upon the dirt and dew.

        The townsman rose in outraged roar,
                Rescinded thoughts of rue,
        And grabbed their picks and shovels now,
                Their purpose plain and true.
        They bore upon the brigand band,
                And beat them back with blade and brand.
        And killed or chased the thieves,
                Until the thieves could number few.

        Revenge for many years of grief,
                The village got that day,
        And even now the Pirate ships,
                Recall and stay away.
        That night the people drank and supped,
                And all their wounds were bandaged up,
        They solemn sat and sought the signs,
                Their seer had to say.

        "I see our town in future years,
                Oppression's lost its hold,
        And thanks to two who lent our battle,
                Brawn and brilliance bold.
        And though they perished pining pain,
                They'll not have passed this place in vain,
        I see their sacrifice in song,
                To generations told."

        "I see a house for heroes, high,
                A hale and handsome hall,
        Where humble hates are halted,
                Friendship hues the hearts of all.
        The scop doth sing of every deed,
                And mirth is mixed with meal and mead-
        Amidst the mirth I see of earth,
                Two men whom I recall."

        "They learned to take intolerance,
                And set that taint aside,
        That all that parts two peoples is,
                Their prejudice and pride.
        And though they valiant, lost dear life,
                They're free of pointless, putrid strife,
        I see they sit and smile and sing,
                And do so side by side."

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