King Harold’s year of battles
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On this day in 1066 King Harold of England defeated an invading army of Norwegians at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire.
Harold had been at Hastings on the south coast awaiting an invasion by the Normans from France (it came sure enough a few weeks later). He was forced to march his army up to Yorkshire, a distance of 185 miles, to fight off this new threat.
Three days later the Normans landed on the south coast and Harold had to rush his exhausted army back again to face them. No wonder that the Normans, under William the Conqueror, won the battle at Hastings a few days later. Perhaps Harold had a foreboding about his death.
Today’s poem is from Carmina Gadelica, the ancient Celtic poetry of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, The Battle to Come:
Jesus, Thou son of Mary, I call on Thy name,
And on the name of John, the apostle beloved,
And on the names of all the saints in the red domain,
To shield me in the battle to come,
To shield me in the battle to come.
When the mouth shall be closed,
When the eye shall be shut,
When the breath shall cease to rattle,
When the heart shall cease to throb,
When the heart shall cease to throb.
When the judge shall take the throne,
And when the cause is fully pleaded,
O Jesu Son of Mary, shield Thou my soul,
O Michael fair, acknowledge my departure.
O Jesu Son of Mary, shield Thou my soul.
Today I will reflect upon doing my best in life, in preparation for the battle to come.