A King's Solitude

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A King's Solitude
by Théophile Gautier, translated by Frederic Cesar De Sumichrast and Agnes Lee
From the French Le Roi solitaire.

Encloistered I live in a tenebrous place
    At the depth of my soul, with no love and no friend,
Alone like a god, with no equal to face,
    Save mine ancestors sleeping their sleep without end.
For grandeur is solitude! All the long day
    A changeless, an indolent idol I stand;
Superhuman and cold in my castle I stay,
    The purple upon me, the world in my hand.

Crown of thorns like to Christ's they have set on my hair.
    Under weight of my terrible splendour I bow,
And the sharp, golden rays of the nimbus I wear;
    Bright drops of blood-royal I bear on my brow.
Heraldical vultures come tearing my side.
    Prometheus chained to his mountain and cast
To the tempest of heaven, the wrath of the tide,
    Was only a king to his glory made fast.

Throned high on my mystic Olympus, I note
    But the voices of flatterers flocking in line, —
Sole cadences counted as worthy to float
    Unto summit so lofty, so distant, as mine.
If wild with oppression my people upswarm,
    And rattle their irons and moan in their fear, —
“Sleep, Sire,” they tell me, “it is but the storm.
    The thunder shall slacken, the sky shall be clear.”

I've power for all things, and pleasure for none.
    Ah, would I might know one deep wish in my heart,
Feel life in its warmth flood my bosom of stone,
    Share one true delight, in one feast have a part!
But lonely the sun in its circle must go.
    High peaks are the coldest, and never a spring,
And never a summer can soften the snow
    On height of Sierra, in heart of a king!