In my high school this poem was assigned for memorization. I learned it, but never understood why the teacher got so excited about it. I just thought, “It’s nice.” Today, I understand much better. It makes me want to cheer!
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 snapt and flung it from his hand,
And lowering, crept away and left the field.
Then came the king’s son, wounded, sore bestead,
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.
by Edward Rowland Sill