Jean Ingelow

(17 March 1820 - 20 July 1897 / Boston, Lincolnshire)

An Ancient Chess Set - Poem by Jean Ingelow

Haply some Rajah first in ages gone
Amid his languid ladies finger'd thee,
While a black nightingale, sun-swart as he,
Sang his one wife, love's passionate orison:
Haply thou mayst have pleased old Prester John
Among his pastures, when full royally
He sat in tent--grave shepherds at his knee--
While lamps of balsam winked and glimmered on.

What dost thou here? Thy masters are all dead.
My heart is full of ruth and yearning pain
At sight of thee, O king that hast a crown
Outlasting theirs, and tells of greatness fled
Through cloud-hung nights of unabated rain
And murmur of the dark majestic town.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, March 10, 2010



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