The Unconquered Air, and Other Poems (1912)/Ode on the Coronation of King George V
ODE ON THE CORONATION OF KING GEORGE V
"I have vowed to God to lead a right life in all things, to rule justly and piously my realms and subjects, and to administer just judgment to all. If heretofore I have done aught beyond what was just, through headiness or negligence of youth, I am ready with God's help to amend it utterly."—King Canute's letter to his English subjects.
When Nature takes away the things we prize,
With all a mother's patient tenderness
She soothes us, and from treasure limitless
Brings forth new joys to gladden our grieved eyes.
Before the leaves fall fluttering to the ground
Affrighted at the very breath and sound
Of the wind's passion, she from blight and storm
Garners the seeds of Summer, safe and warm.
She knows, though glad and sweet the wild bird sing,
How soon the trillium of the wood shall fade,—
Nor longer with its stars illume the shade,—
She knows, and harvests for a future Spring;
And though about her winds of Autumn sigh,
And though the rose—the rose, itself, must die,
And though the lordly pine that scorns to bend
Must fall at last,—she knows there is no end.
Sure of her birthright—elemental, vast,—
Calmly she waits; but man, to whom is given
Earth in its fullness and the dream of heaven,
Still looks with fond regret unto a past
Whose colors fade not in the distant light,
But rather to his worship grow more bright,
And careless as to that the future saith,
Pays tribute to the nothingness of death.
When the fourth Henry, in that chamber called
Jerusalem, lay dying, with what fear,
Knowing the Angel-of-the-Shadow near,
Must he have viewed the future and, appalled,
Beheld succeeding to his perilous throne—
To reign and rule alone—
One who to Folly turned a laughing face,
Dallied with Fortune, and out-dared Disgrace.
More grievous, as the fatal hour drew nigh,
More dreadful than the death he might not fly,
More poignant than regret or mortal pain
Or memories of woeful Richard slain,—
More tragic than all else to him the thought
That his own offspring, in but little while,
Consorting with the worthless and the vile,
Should bring his dearly purchased good to naught.
Fainting, the King saw sorrows multiply,
And out of weakness dared to prophesy
Evil of Harry Monmouth! nor might guess How idle his distress
For one whose future Honour should secure
In human hearts and in heroic story,—
The King new found, new crowned, at Agincourt,—
Great England's darling and her future glory!
But how should doubt not add to care its pain
When, after Mary Tudor's baleful reign,
Forth came from prison drear
Another Queen? Yet 't was her spirit, fired
By grave ambition, nobly men inspired
To victories thrice dear,—
Giving her Age to breathe immortal breath,
Illustrious in the name Elizabeth!
Still with misgiving crowns are laid
Upon the brow of kings.
Yet oft have fairest plantings been repaid
With poorest harvestings,
While following vain auguries of ill
To man have come, beneficently born,
Such reigns as his whose tact and generous will
The Nations of the earth late joined to mourn.
But no misgiving clouds the Future now!
In all the ages rarely hath there been
Such light of hope upon the forehead seen
As that which haloes her auroral brow,
Whose puissance shall uplift the poor and weak,
Whose love shall teach, to such as wisdom seek,
That they are blest who give, they only free
Who in the strength of Law find liberty!
England, it is thy coronation hour!
Doubt is of high and ancient lineage,
But faith is more than plenitude of power,
And now—distrust were treason. Turn in pride,
O England, to thy happy heritage!
And as the bridegroom forth to meet the bride
Fares smiling, so, from cloudy griefs of night,
Turn thou where lovely dawns the day's new light,
And with wise trust, the fruit of loyalty,
To his great father's throne
Make doubly welcome Alexandra's son—
Thy son, O England!—worthy thine to be!
Far from thy beauteous isle, across the Sea,
A Sister-Land prays heaven for him and thee—
Prays that the coming ages still may sing
The blessings of his reign. God save the King!