Modernist Canadian Poets
Ode On the Death of George V
19th Jul 2016Posted in: Modernist Canadian Poets 0

Ode
On the Death of George V

 

NATHANIEL A. BENSON, M.A.
[unnumbered page]

Ode
On the Death of George V

I

THE King is dead—now Death is Emperor,
That ghostly Regent is his sable crown;
And he who held the seven seas before
            Has meetly bowed him down
To God, who rules, not lands, but night and day,
Neither in passive, nor in sad submission,
But as in homage to the fixed condition
Of Him who turns the planets ‘neath His sway;
            To Whom we kneeling, pray:
“God save the King, the mighty King that was!
For all that throne or crown or scepter does
Moves at Thy bidding. Even the proudest breath
Is shortened swift and soon by Thy dark courier, Death.”

II

OUR King was great, yet void of vanity,
Loved all earth’s peoples, above all, his own;
Gifted in judgement, tenderness and sanity
            That made his well-loved throne
Foremost among fair nations; yet a King 
Who was a calm great-hearted gentleman,
Who dared be gentle as the greatest can;
Aye, never did he one unworthy thing.
            Now we this laurel bring
For one who wore and honoured even his crown,
Gravely assumed, and greatly laid it down,
Glad, yet unwearied, knowing well his time
Had come to enter in a quiet ampler clime. [unnumbered page]

III

NO sable panoply is needful now,
No deeply-muffled drum, nor minute-gun,
When darkly waves the plume on England’s brow—
            For now her foremost son
Departs from her, and his imperial tread
Attended by an Empire’s mourning far,
Re-echoing faint from some mysterious star,
Drums hollow down the highways of the dead,
            Sounding in august dread.
Let us be heartened, burdened not by fear;
There wakes the Immoral who was mortal here.
His kindliness, simplicity and strength
Blow slowly on before his long last journey’s length.

IV

HE was a goodly King, whom joy will find
In that dim realm beyond the shadowy tide.
Passing alone, he will not wander blind
            Where royal hearts abide,
That splendent host of England’s Queens and Kings!
The Saxon Harold, English Alfred there,
The Lion-Richard, Warrior-Henry stare
At inward scars the latest hero brings,
            Telling of sternest things,
Of times when monarchs and fanatic lords
Ravening for godship, perished on their swords.
Pale armies marched, and sorrowing he stood,
The foe of evil and the steadfast friend of good.

V

GRANT him Thy peace, Thou Guardian of all thrones,
Whose footsteps stride the mountains, span the sea,
Whose hand hath fixed the chill and burning zones,
            Who art Infinity.
Grant him the shelter of Thine outspread wings;
He showed that kings were men, but only Thou
With pale avenging suns about Thy brow
Inspirest every heart that stirs and sings—
            Thou makest all true men kings!
Teach us to follow Thee, in greatness mild,
In true nobility, still undefiled,
Beloved as he, our most illustrious Dead
Who wakes with richer crowns about his honoured head. [unnumbered page]
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