Thomas Hardy (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928 / Dorchester / England)
A King's Soliloquy [On the Night of His Funeral]
From the slow march and muffled drum,
And crowds distrest,
And book and bell, at length I have come
To my full rest.
A ten years' rule beneath the sun
Is wound up here,
And what I have done, what left undone,
Figures out clear.
Yet in the estimate of such
It grieves me more
That I by some was loved so much
Than that I bore,
From others, judgment of that hue
Breeds from a theoretic view
Of regal scope.
For kingly opportunities
Right many have sighed;
How best to bear its devilries
Those learn who have tried!
I have eaten the fat and drunk the sweet,
Lived the life out
From the first greeting glad drum-beat
To the last shout.
What pleasure earth affords to kings
I have enjoyed
Through its long vivid pulse-stirrings
Even till it cloyed.
What days of strain, what nights of stress
Can cark a throne,
Even one maintained in peacefulness,
I too have known.
And so, I think, could I step back
To life again,
I should prefer the average track
Of average men,
Since, as with them, what kingship would
It cannot do,
Nor to first thoughts however good
Hold itself true.
Something binds hard the royal hand,
As all that be,
And it is That has shaped, has planned
My acts and me.
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