He raised his lance to signal the attack,
And with a shout did spur his eager horse.
Then rushed the earl as rolling, ragged rack
When black with rain it flies a tempestuous course.
And when they met, such was the stormy force
Both steeds did stagger, and the earl’s threw
Him down headlong, his men roared in remorse,
But rising from the dust, his sword he drew;
So swift the knight leapt down and drew his weapon too.
Such was their strength, that every ringing clash
Between the black earl’s sword and knight’s sharp steel,
With fiery, flying sparks as lightning flashed,
And blows, upon the shields, as thunder pealed.
No stronger wights did ever weapons wield.
But stronger struck the earl, and very soon
Did flog the blazon from his rival’s shield,
And then with heavier strokes the shield was hewn,
And dwindled with each sword-stroke, as the waning moon.
So waned the hope within the countess’ breast
On seeing her knight fall back before her foe.
Unto the forest edge the knight was pressed,
And there the earl did strike him such a blow,
As clove his helm, and made his blood to flow
Down o’er his eyes. And nothing could he see.
And while he sank in this black sea, I trow,
He was in peril great. His enemy
Then raised his sword to lay him low beneath a tree.