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Normale Version: Coeur de Lion (2)
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Coeur de Lion

Marochetti's Statue in the Great Exhibition of 1851.


I

Richard the Lion-hearted, crowned serene
With the true royalty of perfect man;
Seated in stone above the praise or ban
Of these mixed crowds who come gaping lean
As if to see what the word "king" might mean
In those old times. Behold! what need that rim
Of crown 'gainst this blue sky, to signal him
A monarch, of the monarchs that have been,
And, perhaps, are not?--Read his destinies
In the full brow o'er-arching kingly eyes,
In the strong hands, grasping both rein and sword,
In the close mouth, so sternly beautiful:--
Surely, a man who his own spirit can rule;
Lord of himself, therefore his brethren's lord.


II

"O Richard, O mon roi." So minstrels sighed.
The many-centuried voice dies fast away
Amidst the turmoil of our modern day.
How know we but these green-wreathed legends hide
An ugly truth that never could abide
In this our living world's far purer air?--
Nevertheless, O statue, rest thou there,
Our Richard, of all chivalry the pride;
Or if not the true Richard, still a type
Of the old regal glory, fallen, o'er-ripe,
And giving place to better blossoming:
Stand--imaging the grand heroic days;
And let our little children come and gaze,
Whispering with innocent awe--"This was a King."
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