A Description of the Battle in Fight


Some with sharp swords—to tell, O most accursed!—2
Were above half into their3 bodies thrust,
From whence fresh streams of blood run all along4
Unto the hilts, and there lay clodded on.
Some, their legs dangling5 by the nervous strings,                       5
And shoulders cut, hung loose like flying wings.
Heads here were cleft in pieces,6 brains lay7 mashed,
And all their faces into slices hashed.
Brains only in the pia mater thin,
Did8 quivering lie9 within that little skin,                                    10
Their skulls all broke and into pieces burst,
By horses hooves and chariot wheels were crushed.10
Others, their heads did lie11 on their own laps,
And some again, half cut, lay12 on their paps,
Whose tongues out of their mouths were thrust13 at length.   15
For why?14 The strings were15 cut that gave them strength.
Their eyes did16 stare; their lids were open wide,17
For the small nerves were shrunk on every side.18
In19 some again, those glassy balls hung20 by
Small slender strings, as chains to tie the eye.                            20
Those21 strings, when broke, eyes fall, which22 trundling round
Until23 the film is24 broke upon the ground.
In death, their teeth strong set, their lips left25 bare,
Which grinning seem’d26 as if they angry were.
Their hair27 upon their eyes in clodded gore                              25
So wildly spread, as ne’er it did before.28
With frowns their foreheads did in29 furrows lie,
As graves their foes to bury when they die.
Their spongy lungs heaved up30 through pangs of death,
With pain and difficulty fetched short breath.                           30
Some grasping hard, their hands through pain provoked,
Because31 the rattling phlegm their throats had choked;32
Their bodies now bowed33 up, then down did34 fall,
For want of strength to make them stand withall.
Some staggering on their legs did35 feebly stand,                      35
Or leaning on their sword with either hand,
Where on the pummel did36 their breast rely,
More grieved they could not37 fight, than for to die.
Their hollow eyes sunk deep into their brains,38
And hard-fetched groans did from each heartstring strain.39 40
Their knees pulled up to keep their bowels in,40
But all too little through their blood doth swim;41
Guts did,42 like sausages, their bodies twine,
Or like the spreading plant, or wreathing vine.
Their restless heads, not knowing how to lie,                             45
Through grievous pains did43 quickly wish to die;
Rolling from off their back upon their belly,
Did tumble44 in their blood as thick as jelly.
And gasping lay45 with short breaths and constraint,
With cold sweat drops upon their faces faint.                            50
Heaving their dull pale eyeballs, up did46 look,
As if through pain, not hate, the world forsook.
Some chilly cold, as in shiv’ring47 agues, are;
Some burning hot, as in high fevers were;
Some spewing48 blood from stomachs that are sick;                55
Through parching heats their tongues to’th’roofs49 did50 stick.
Their bodies with loud groans their souls called51 back,
While smarting wounds did set them on the rack,
And on their arms their faces lay across,
As if in death they were ashamed of loss.                                    60
Some dying lay, like flame52 whose oil is spent,
Or fire that’s smothered out and53 wanteth vent,
And some did54 fall like strong and hardy oaks
Which are hewn down55 with fierce and cruel strokes,
Their limbs chopped small, as wood for fire to burn,               65
Or carved, or chipped out for joiner’s turn.
Some underneath their horses’ bellies flung;
Some by the heels in their own stirrups hung.
Others their heads and neck lay56 all awry,
And57 on their horses’ manes, as pillows, lie.                             70
Some in a careless garb lay58 on the ground,
As life despised, since honor in death’s59 found.
Some called for Death, and some did60 Life desire;
Some cared not; some did burials61 require;
Some beat their breasts as if they’d done some ill;62                 75
Some burned with hot revenge their foes to kill;63
Some lay as if to hear the trumpet sound,
And others did lie64 sprawling on the ground;
Some wished their death’s revenge upon their foe,
Others65 with dying eyes their friends not know;                      80
Some their parents, children cried to66 see;
Others wished life, some difference to agree.
But lovers, with a soft and panting heart,
Did wish their mistress, at their last67 depart,
To shut their eyes, their gaping68 wounds to close,                    85
Whose dying spirits69 to their mistress goes.
Foes’ hands into each others wounds thrust wide,
As if their hearts they’d70 pull out from each side;
Some71 friends, in dear embracements, closely72 twined,
By their affections73 strong in death were74 joined;                  90
Some wished to live, yet longed75 for death through pain;
Others died76 grieving that their foe’s not slain;
Some did77 repent what they so rash had78 done,
And wished79 the battle were to be begun;
Some gently sinking, by a80 fainting fall,                                      95
Yield quietly to Death when he did81 call;
Some drunk with death not able were82 to stand,
But83 reeling fell,84 struck down by Death’s cold hand;
Some lingered85 long, as lovers when they86 must
Part; some did87 willing yield to fate their dust,                          100
And sweetly lay88 as if asleep at89 night;
Some stern, as if new battles they would90 fight;
Some softly murmuring, like a bubbling stream,
Did91 sweetly smile in death, as in a dream.
Their92 souls with soft-breathed sighs to heav’n did fly,93        105
To live with th’gods94 above the starry sky.
Thus several noises through the air did95 ring,
And several postures Death to men did96 bring:
Where some did97 die outrageous98 in despair,
Others so gentle as without all99 fear.                                           110
With heaps of bodies, hills up high were grown,100
Where hair as grass, and teeth as seed were sown.101
Their heads102 and heels, horsemen together lay,
Smothered to death which could not get away.
Their arms lay hacked, and all were thrown about,                  115
And targets full of holes, that kept death out.
Their flags flying103 like moving woods did show,
On whose tops various colors seemed104 to grow,
As if flow’rs from high trees had sprouted out,105
Or in the open air were strewed about;106                                   120
Now all were fallen, and into pieces torn,107
Their mottos razed that108 did their sides adorn;
Some did like109 winding sheets their bearers shroud,
Which was an honour fit to make Death proud.
Some were110 like virgins, which their eyes cast111 low            125
Through shamefastness, although no fault they112 know,
Nor guilty are,113 but overcome with strength,
Not by their own consent, but114 forced at length,
For courage, like to chastity,115 we find
Is forced to lay down arms, though ’gainst its116 mind.             130
Here gauntlets, corslets, gorgets, saddles thrown,117
Flags, pikes, drums, guns, bullets, all o’er strown,118
And plumes119 of feathers which waved with the wind,
And proudly tossed, like to some haughty mind,
Like to120 prosperity when overborne,                                         135
Now humbly lay, and were in pieces torn.121
Horses, which proudly pranced122 when backed they123 were
By men of courage, never knowing fear,
Now overpowered lay124 by strong assault,
And lost by force; ’twas125 not their courage fault,                    140
For they on Death’s dull face could boldly stare,
Since life should hate, if not126 victorious were.
Dead horses lay on127 backs, their heels up flung;
Their eyes were sunk, heads128 turned; their jaws down hung.
Their thick curled manes, which grew down to the ground,  145
Or by their masters129 in fine ribbons bound,
Were130 torn half off, or singed by fire from guns,
Or snarled in knots or clods that131 backward runs.
Their nostrils wide, from whence thick smoke outwent,
Which vapor from their hot stout hearts was132 sent,             150
Their sleek bright hair o’th’skin133 like coats of mail,
Their courage fierce, that nothing could them134 quail,
All in death lay;135 by Fortune they were cast,
And Nature to new forms went136 on in haste,
For neither beauty, strength, nor137 nimble feet                       155
Can138 serve in death; all beasts alike there meet.
Thus horse and man in several postures139 lies,
With several pains; in several places dies.
When horses die, they know no reason why,
But140 men do venture life for vainglory.                                   160
Smoke from their blood141 into red clouds did rise,
Which flashed like lightning in all living eyes;142
Their groans into the middle region went,
And echoes did143 the air like thunder rent;
From sighs, winds rarified144 such gusts did blow,                  165
As if ascended145 from the shades below.
Men strive146 to die, to make their names to live,
When gods no certainty to fame147 will give.

  1. the Battle in Fight] the Fight. 1664; the Fight. 1668
  2. —to tell, O most accursed!—] to tell, O most accurst, 1653; (to tell, O most accurst!) 1668
  3. their] the 1653
  4. run all along] along did run 1664, 1668
  5. dangling] hang dangling 1653
  6. Heads here were cleft in pieces,] Here heads are cleft in two parts, 1653
  7. lay] lye 1653
  8. Did] Which 1653
  9. lie] lyes 1653
  10. were crushed.] to dust. 1653
  11. heads did lie] owne heads lyes 1653
  12. lay] lyes 1653
  13. Whose tongues out of their mouths were thrust] Whose Tongues out of their mouthes are thrust 1653; Some thrust their Tongues out of their Mouths 1664, 1668
  14. why?] why, 1653, 1668
  15. were] are 1653
  16. did] do 1653
  17. their lids were open wide,] the lids wide open set, 1653
  18. For the small nerves were shrunk on every side.] The little Nerves being shrunk, they cannot shut. 1653
  19. In] And 1653
  20. hung] hangs 1653
  21. Those] Wch 1664, 1668
  22. eyes fall, which] the Eyes fell 1664, 1668
  23. Until] And then 1664, 1668
  24. is] was 1664, 1668
  25. left] were 1664, 1668
  26. seem’d] seems, 1653
  27. hair] Hairs 1653
  28. So wildly spread, as ne’er it did before.] Or wildly spreads, as not in life they wore; 1653
  29. did in] in deep 1653
  30. Their spongy lungs heaved up] Heaving up spongy lungs 1653
  31. Because] For why, 1653
  32. had choked;] do choak. 1653
  33. now bowed] bowing 1653
  34. did] they 1653
  35. did] do 1653
  36. did] doth 1653
  37. could not] cannot 1653
  38. brains,] Brain, 1664, 1668
  39. did from each heartstring strain.] from every heart-string strains. 1653
  40. to keep their bowels in,] lest th’Bowels out should come, 1664; lest th’Bowels out should come; 1668
  41. doth swim] they Swom; 1664; they swom. 1668
  42. Guts did,] And Guts 1653
  43. did] do 1653
  44. Did tumble] Tumbling 1653
  45. lay] lye 1653
  46. Heaving their dull pale eyeballs, up did] Then heaving up their dull, pale eye-balls, 1653
  47. in shiv’ring] shivering 1653; Shivering 1664
  48. Some spewing] Spewing of 1653
  49. heats their tongues to’th’roofs] Heat their Tongue to th’Roof 1664; heat their Tongue to th’Roof 1668
  50. did] do 1653
  51. Their bodies with loud groans their souls called] With loud groans, bodies call’d their soules 1653
  52. lay, like flame] like a flame, 1653
  53. that’s smothered out and] smother’d out which 1653
  54. did] do 1653
  55. are hewn down] hewn down are 1653
  56. neck lay] Necks being 1664, 1668
  57. And] Did 1664, 1668
  58. lay] lye 1653
  59. As life despised, since honor in death’s] Despis’d Life, since in Death is Honour 1664, 1668
  60. called for Death, and some did] for death do call, some 1653
  61. cared not; some did burials] care not, others burial 1653
  62. if they’d done some ill;] evill they had done, 1653
  63. Some burned with hot revenge their foes to kill;] Others in fiery hot revenge do burn. 1653
  64. did lie] lay, as 1653
  65. Others] Some did 1664; Some did, 1668
  66. their parents, children cried to] would their Parents, some their Children 1664, 1668
  67. last] Sad 1664; sad 1668
  68. their gaping] and 1653
  69. dying spirits] Dying Spirit 1664; dying-spirit, 1669
  70. they’d] would 1653
  71. Some] VVhere 1653
  72. closely] are close 1653
  73. affections] affection 1653
  74. were] they are 1653
  75. longed] long 1653
  76. died] dye 1653
  77. Some did] Or else 1653
  78. had] have 1653
  79. wished] wish 1653
  80. by a] so by 1653
  81. Yield quietly to Death when he did] And quietly do yeeld, when Death them 1653
  82. were] are 1653
  83. But] And 1653
  84. fell,] fall, 1653
  85. lingered] lingring 1653
  86. they] part 1653
  87. Part; some did] Others, as 1653
  88. lay] lies, 1653
  89. at] in 1653
  90. they would] were to 1653
  91. Did] Yet 1653
  92. Their] Whole 1653
  93. heav’n did fly,] heaven flye, 1653; Heaven did fly, 1668
  94. th’gods] gods 1653
  95. did] do 1653
  96. did] doth 1653
  97. did] do 1653
  98. outrageous] Outragions 1664. The 1664 Errata list corrects this turned letter to “outragious”; the correction is also carried forward into 1668.
  99. without all] appears no 1653
  100. With heaps of bodies, hills up high were grown,] With heaps of bodies, hills up high are growne, 1653; High Hills with Heaps of Bodies there were Grown, 1664; High Hills, with heaps of Bodies, there were grown; 1668
  101. Where hair as grass, and teeth as seed were sown.] Where haire as grasse, and teeth, as seed are sown: 1653; And Hair as Grass, and Teeth as Seed were Sown; 1664; And Hair, as Grass; and Teeth, as Seed, were sown. 1668
  102. heads] head, 1653
  103. flying] which first 1664, 1668
  104. On whose tops various colors seemed] Various colours seem’d on their tops 1653
  105. flow’rs from high trees had sprouted out,] flowers had sprouted from trees high, 1653
  106. in the open air were strewed about;] strew’d about, did in the clouds so lye. 1653
  107. Now all were fallen, and into pieces torn,] Now all are fallen, and into peeces torn, 1653; VVere now all fall’n and into Pieces torn, 1664; Were now all faln, and into pieces torn, 1668
  108. that] which 1664, 1668
  109. Some did like] Yet some as 1653
  110. Some were] Some 1653
  111. which their eyes cast] that cast their eyes down 1653
  112. although no fault they] though they no fault did 1664, 1668
  113. are,] were; 1664, 1668
  114. Not by their own consent, but] Though not consenting, yet is 1653
  115. For courage, like to chastity,] As Chastity, so courage forc’d 1653
  116. Is forced to lay down arms, though ’gainst its] To lay down Arms though sore against their 1653
  117. Here gauntlets, corslets, gorgets, saddles thrown,] Gauntlets and Corslets, Saddles lay here and there, 1664; Gauntlets and Corslets, Saddles, lay here and there; 1668
  118. bullets, all o’er strown,] were scatter’d every where, 1664; were scatter’d every where; 1668
  119. And plumes] Plumes 1653
  120. Like to] Just like 1664, 1668
  121. lay, and were in pieces torn.] lyes, where they are trodden on. 1653
  122. which proudly pranced] praunce proudly, 1653
  123. backed they] they backed 1653
  124. Now overpowered lay] If they are over-powred 1653
  125. force; ’twas] strength, was 1653
  126. should hate, if not] they Hate, lest they 1664; they hate, lest they 1668
  127. lay on] lye on 1653; lay on th’ 1664, 1668
  128. Their eyes were sunk, heads] Eyes sunke, their heads lye 1653
  129. masters] Master 1653
  130. Were] Was 1653
  131. knots or clods that] a Knot which 1664, a Knot, which 1668
  132. vapor from their hot stout hearts was] from their hot stout hearts that vapour 1653
  133. o’th’skin] on skin 1653
  134. Their courage fierce, that nothing could them] And their feirce Courage which could nothing 1664; And their fierce Courage, which could nothing 1668
  135. in death lay;] lay in Death, 1664; lay in Death: 1668
  136. went] goes 1653
  137. nor] or 1653
  138. Can] Could 1653
  139. Thus horse and man in several postures] In severall postures, horse and men thus 1653
  140. But] VVhere 1653
  141. blood] bloods 1653
  142. all living eyes;] the livings eyes, 1653
  143. And echoes did] Ecchoes in 1653
  144. From sighs, winds rarified] Winds rarified, sighs 1653
  145. ascended] they ’scended 1664, 1668
  146. strive] strives 1653
  147. no certainty to fame] to Fame, no Certainty 1668