A King's Soliloquy

On the Night of His Funeral


From the slow march and muffled drum,
      And crowds distrest,
And book and bell, at length I have come
      To my full rest.

A ten years' rule beneath the sun
      Is wound up here,
And what I have done, what left undone,
      Figures out clear.

Yet in the estimate of such
      It grieves me more
That I by some was loved so much
      Than that I bore,

From others, judgment of that hue
      Which over-hope
Breeds from a theoretic view
      Of regal scope.

For kingly opportunities
      Right many have sighed;
How best to bear its devilries
      Those learn who have tried!

I have eaten the fat and drunk the sweet,
      Lived the life out
From the first greeting glad drum-beat
      To the last shout.

What pleasure earth affords to kings
      I have enjoyed
Through its long vivid pulse-stirrings
      Even till it cloyed.

What days of strain, what nights of stress
      Can cark a throne,
Even one maintained in peacefulness,
      I too have known.

And so, I think, could I step back
      To life again,
I should prefer the average track
      Of average men,

Since, as with them, what kingship would
      It cannot do,
Nor to first thoughts however good
      Hold itself true.

Something binds hard the royal hand,
      As all that be,
And it is That has shaped, has planned
      My acts and me.

May 1910



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