Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  From “The Saint’s Tragedy”

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Charles Kingsley 1819–75

From “The Saint’s Tragedy”



OH! that we two were Maying

Down the stream of the soft spring breeze;

Like children with violets playing

In the shade of the whispering trees.

Oh! that we two sat dreaming

On the sward of some sheep-trimm’d down,

Watching the white mist steaming

Over river and mead and town.

Oh! that we two lay sleeping

In our nest in the churchyard sod,

With our limbs at rest on the quiet earth’s breast,

And our souls at home with God.

(Men at Arms pass singing)

THE TOMB of God before us,

Our fatherland behind,

Our ships shall leap o’er billows steep,

Before a charmed wind.

Above our van great angels

Shall fight along the sky;

While martyrs pure and crowned saints

To God for rescue cry.

The red-cross knights and yeomen

Throughout the holy town,

In faith and might, on left and right,

Shall tread the paynim down.

Till on the Mount Moriah

The Pope of Rome shall stand;

The Kaiser and the King of France

Shall guard him on each hand.

There shall he rule all nations,

With crosier and with sword;

And pour on all the heathen

The wrath of Christ the Lord.

(Women Bystanders)

Christ is a rock in the bare salt land,

To shelter our knights from the sun and sand;

Christ the Lord is a summer sun,

To ripen the grain while they are gone.

Then you who fight in the bare salt land,

And you who work at home,

Fight and work for Christ the Lord,

Until His kingdom come.

(Old Knights pass)

Our stormy sun is sinking;

Our sands are running low;

In one fair fight, before the night,

Our hard-worn hearts shall glow.

We cannot pine in cloister;

We cannot fast and pray;

The sword which built our load of guilt

Must wipe that guilt away.

We know the doom before us;

The dangers of the road;

Have mercy, mercy, Jesu bless’d,

When we lie low in blood.

When we lie gash’d and gory,

The holy walls within,

Sweet Jesu, think upon our end,

And wipe away our sin.

(Boy Crusaders pass)

The Christ-child sits on high;

He looks through the merry blue sky;

He holds in His hand a bright lily-band,

For the boys who for Him die.

On holy Mary’s arm,

Wrapp’d safe from terror and harm,

Lull’d by the breeze in the paradise trees,

Their souls sleep soft and warm.

Knight David, young and true,

The giant Soldan slew,

And our arms so light, for the Christ-child’s right,

Like noble deeds can do.

(Young Knights pass)

The rich East blooms fragrant before us;

All Fairy-land beckons us forth;

We must follow the crane in her flight o’er the main,

From the posts and the moors of the North.

Our sires in the youth of the nations

Swept westward through plunder and blood,

But a holier quest calls us back to the East,

We fight for the kingdom of God.

Then shrink not, and sigh not, fair ladies,

The red cross which flames on each arm and each shield,

Through philter and spell, and the black charms of hell,

Shall shelter our true love in camp and in field.

(Old Monk looking after them)

Jerusalem, Jerusalem!

The burying-place of God!

Why gay and bold, in steel and gold,

O’er the paths where Christ hath trod?