The Glove and the Lions

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    King Francis was a hearty king, and loved a royal sport;
    And one day, as his lions fought, sat looking on the court:
    The nobles filled the benches round, the ladies by their side,
    And 'mongst them sat the Count de Lorge, with one for whom he sighed;
    And truly 'twas a gallant thing to see that crowning show -
    Valour and love, and a king above, and the royal beasts below.

    Ramp'd and roar'd the lions, with horrid laughing jaws;
    They bit, they glared, gave blows like beams - a wind went with their paws:
    With wallowing might and stifled roar, they rolled on one another,
    Till all the pit, with sand and mane, was in a thunderous smother;
    The bloody foam above the bars came whizzing through the air;
    Said Francis then, "Faith! Gentlemen, we're better here than there!"

    De Lorge's love o'erheard the King,--a beauteous lively dame,
    With smiling lips and sharp bright eyes, which always seem'd the same:
    She thought, "The Count my lover is brave as brave can be -
    He surely would do wondrous things to show his love of me:
    Kings, ladies, lovers, all looked on; the occasion is divine"
    I'll drop my glove, to prove his love: great glory will be mine!"

    She dropped her glove to prove his love, then looked at him and smiled;
    He bowed, and in a moment leapt among the lions wild.
    The leap was quick, return was quick, he has regain'd his place,
    Then threw the glove - but not with love - right in the lady's face!
    "in truth," cried Francis, "rightly done!" and rose from where he sat.
    "no love," quoth he, "but vanity, sets love a task like that!"

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.