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Poem by Henry Newbolt
The King of England
(June 24th, 1902) In that eclipse of noon when joy was hushed Like the bird's song beneath unnatural night, And Terror's footfall in the darkness crushed The rose imperial of our delight, Then, even then, though no man cried "He comes," And no man turned to greet him passing there, With phantom heralds challenging renown And silent-throbbing drums I saw the King of England, hale and fair, Ride out with a great train through London town. Unarmed he rode, but in his ruddy shield The lions bore the dint of many a lance, And up and down his mantle's azure field Were strewn the lilies plucked in famous France. Before him went with banner floating wide The yeoman breed that served his honour best, And mixed with these his knights of noble blood; But in the place of pride His admirals in billowy lines abreast Convoyed him close like galleons on the flood. Full of a strength unbroken showed his face And his brow calm with youth's unclouded dawn, But round his lips were lines of tenderer grace Such as no hand but Time's hath ever drawn. Surely he knew his glory had no part In dull decay, nor unto Death must bend, Yet surely too of lengthening shadows dreamed With sunset in his heart, So brief his beauty now, so near the end, And now so old and so immortal seemed. O King among the living, these shall hail Sons of thy dust that shall inherit thee: O King of men that die, though we must fail Thy life is breathed from thy triumphant sea. O man that servest men by right of birth, Our hearts' content thy heart shall also keep, Thou too with us shalt one day lay thee down In our dear native earth, Full sure the King of England, while we sleep, For ever rides abroad, through London town.
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