Best Poems From
(15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924)
A Prayer For The King's Majesty
22nd January, 1901.
THE Queen is dead. God save the King,
In this his hour of grief,
When sorrow gathers memories in a sheaf
To lay them on his shoulders as he stands
Inheriting her glories and her lands--
First gain of his at which his Mother's voice
Has not been first to bless and to rejoice--
A man, set lonely between gain and loss.
(O words of love the heart remembereth,
O mighty loss outweighing every gain!)
A Son whose kingdom Death's arm lies across,
A King whose Mother lies alone with Death
Wrapped in the folds of white implacable sleep.
O God, who seest the tears Thy children weep,
O God, who countest each sad heart-beat, see
How our King needs the grace we ask of Thee!
Thou knowest how little and how vain a thing
Is Empire, when the heart is sick with pain--
God, save the King!
The Queen is dead. The splendour of her days,
The sorrow of them both alike merge now
In the new aureole that lights her brow.
The clamour of her people's voice in praise
Must hush itself to the still voice that prays
In the holy chamber of Death. Tread softly here,
A mighty Queen lies dead.
Her people's heart wears black,
The black bells toll unceasing in their ear,
And on the gold sun's track
The great world round
Like a black ring the voice of mourning goes,
Till even our ancient foes
With eyes downbent, and brotherly bared head,
Keep mourning watch with us. This is the hour
When Love lends all his power
To speed grief's arrows from the bow of Death,
When sighs are idle breath,
When tears are fountains vain.
She will not wake again,
Not now, not here.
O great and good and infinitely dear,
O Mother of your people, sleep is sweet,
No more Life's thorny ways will wound your feet.
O Mother dear, sleep sound!
When you shall wake,
Your brows freed from the crown that made them ache
So many a time, and wear the heavenly crown,
Then, then you will look down
On us who love you, and, remembering,
The love of earth will breathe with us our prayer,
Our prayer prayed here, joined to your prayer prayed there:
Who knows what radiant answer it may bring?
'God save the King!'
The Queen is dead. God save the King!
From all ill thought and deed,
From heartless service and from selfish sway,
From treason, and the vain imagining
Of evil counsellors, and the noisome breed
Of flatterers who eat the soul away,
God save the King!
From loss and pain and tears
Such as her many years
Brought her; from battle and strife,
And the inmost hurt of life,
The wounds that no crown can heal,
No ermine robes conceal,
God save the King!
God, by our memories of his Mother's face,
By the love that makes our heart her dwelling-place,
Grant to our sorrow this desired grace:
God save the King!
* * * * * * * * *
The Queen is dead. God save the King.
This is no hour when joy has leave to sing;
Only, amid our tears, we are bold to pray,
More boldly, in that we pray sorrowing,
In this most sorrowful day.
God, who wast of a mortal Mother born,
Who driest the tears with which Thy children mourn,
God, save the King!
Look down on him whose crown is wet with tears
In which its splendour fades and disappears--
His tears, our tears, tears out of all her lands.
The Queen is dead.
God! strengthen the King's hands!
God, save the King!
A Song Of Trafalgar
LIKE an angry sun, like a splendid star,
War gleams down the long years' track;
They strain at the leash, the dogs of war,
And who shall hold them back?
'Let loose the pack: we are English bred,
We will meet them full and fair
With the flag of England over our head,
And his hand to keep it there!'
So spake our fathers. Our flag, unfurled,
Blew brave to the north and south;
An iron answer we gave the world,
For we spoke by the cannon's mouth.
But he who taught us the word to say
Grew dumb as his Victory sang,
And England mourned on her triumph day,
And wept while her joy-bells rang.
Long hour by hour, and long day by day,
The swift years crept apace,
The patient, the coral-insect way,
To cover the dear dead face.
O foolish rabble of envious years,
Who wist not the dead must rise,
His name is music still in our ears,
His face a light to our eyes!
Bring hither your laurels, the fading sign
Of a deathless love and pride;
These cling more close than the laurels twine,
They are strong as the world is wide:
At the feet of Virtue in Valour clad
Shall glory and love be laid,
While Glory sings to an English lad,
Or Love to an English maid.
Wherever the gleams of an English fire
On an English roof-tree shine,
Wherever the fire of a youth's desire
Is laid upon Honour's shrine,
Wherever brave deeds are treasured and told,
In the tale of the deeds of yore
Like jewels of price in a chain of gold
Are the name and the fame he bore.
Wherever the track of our English ships
Lies white on the ocean foam,
His name is sweet to our English lips
As the names of the flowers at home;
Wherever the heart of an English boy
Grows big with a deed of worth,
Such names as his name have begot the same,
Such hearts will bring it to birth.
They say that his England, grown tired and old,
Lies drunk by her heavy hoard;
They say her hands have the grasp of the gold
But not the grip of the sword,
That her robe of glory is rent and shred,
And that winds of shame blow through:
Speak for your England, O mighty Dead,
In the deeds you would have her do!
Small skill have we to fight with the pen
Who fought with the sword of old,
For the sword that is wielded of Englishmen
Is as much as one hand can hold.
Yet the pen and the tongue are safe to use,
And the coward and the wise choose these;
But fools and brave were our English crews
When Nelson swept the seas.
'Tis the way of a statesman to fear and fret,
To ponder and pause and plan,
But the way of Nelson was better yet,
For that was the way of a man;
They would teach us smoothness, who once were rough,
They have bidden us palter and pray,
But the way of Nelson was good enough,
For that was the fighting way.
If Nelson's England must stoop to bear
What never honour should brook,
In vain does the tomb of her hero wear
The laurel his brow forsook;
In vain was the speech from the lips of her guns,
If now must her lips refrain;
In vain has she made us, her living sons,
Her dead have made her in vain.
So here with your bays be the dear head crowned,
Lay flowers where the dear dust lies,
And wreathe his column with laurel round
To point his fame to the skies;
But the greenest laurel that ever grew
Is the laurel that's yet to win;
Crowned with his laurels he waits for You
To bring Your laurels in!
UNBIND thine eyes, with thine own soul confer,
Look on the sins that made thy life unclean,
Behold how poor thy vaunted virtues were,
How weak thy faith, thy deeds how small and mean,
How far from thy high dreams thy life hath been,
How poor thy use of all thou hast received,
How little of all God's glory thou hast seen,
How misconstrued that which thou hast perceived.
Turn not thine eyes away from thine unworth,
The cup of shame drink to the bitter lees;
And when thou art lowered to the least on earth,
And in the dust makest common cause with these,
Then shall kind arms enfold thee, bringing peace,
The Earth, thy Mother, shall assuage thy pain,
Her woods and fields, Her quiet streams and seas
Shall touch thy soul, and make thee whole again.
But if thy heart holds fast one secret sin,
If one vile script thy soul shrinks to erase,
The mighty Mother cannot bring thee in
Unto the happy, holy, healing place;
But thou shalt weep in darkness, out of grace,
And miss the light of beauty undefiled;
For he who would behold Her, face to face,
Must be in spirit as a little child.
ONCE I loved, and my heart bowed down,
Subject and slave, for Love was a King;
He sat above with sceptre and crown,
Turning his eyes from my sorrowing.
The laugh of a god on his lips lay light--
His lips victorious that mocked my pain,
And I mourned in the cold and the outer night,
And my tears and my prayers were vain.
Now the old spell is over and done,
Myself I wear the ermine and gold,
My brows are crowned, I ascend the throne,
I have taken the sceptre and orb to hold.
I smile victorious, set far above
The music of voices that moan and pray,
My feet are wet with the tears of love,
And I turn my eyes away.