James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

August 23

The Death of Wallace

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

  • A Scottish patriot and national hero. He fought the English successfully for many years, but was finally betrayed to them and executed on August 23, 1305.

  • JOY, joy in London now!

    He goes, the rebel Wallace goes to death;

    At length the traitor meets the traitor’s doom,

    Joy, joy in London now!

    He on a sledge is drawn,

    His strong right arm unweaponed and in chains,

    And garlanded around his helmless head

    The laurel wreath of scorn.

    They throng to view him now,

    Who in the field had fled before his sword,

    Who at the name of Wallace once grew pale

    And faltered out a prayer.

    Yes! they can meet his eye,

    That only beams with patient courage now;

    Yes! they can look upon those manly limbs,

    Defenceless now and bound.

    And that eye did not shrink

    As he beheld the pomp of infamy;

    Nor one ungoverned feeling shook those limbs,

    When the last moment came.

    What though suspended sense

    Was by their legal cruelty revived;

    What though ingenious vengeance lengthened life

    To feel protracted death?

    What though the hangman’s hand

    Grasped in his living breast the heaving heart?—

    In the last agony, the last sick pang,

    Wallace had comfort still.

    He called to mind his deeds

    Done for his country in the embattled field;

    He thought of that good cause for which he died,

    And it was joy in death.

    Go, Edward! triumph now!

    Cambria is fallen, and Scotland’s strength is crushed;

    On Wallace, on Llewellyn’s mangled limbs,

    The fowls of heaven have fed.

    Unrivalled, unopposed,

    Go Edward, full of glory to thy grave!

    The weight of patriot blood upon thy soul,

    Go Edward, to thy God!