Anna Laetitia Barbauld

(20 June 1743 – 9 March 1825 / Leicestershire, England)

On The King's Illness


Rest, rest, afflicted spirit, quickly pass
Thine hour of bitter suffering! Rest awaits thee,
There, where, the load of weary life laid down,
The peasant and the king repose together:
There peaceful sleep, thy quiet grave bedewed
With tears of those who loved thee. Not for thee,
In the dark chambers of the nether world,
Shall spectre kings rise from their burning thrones
And point the vacant seat, and scoffing say,
Art thou become like us?—O not for thee!
For thou hadst human feelings, and hast lived
A man with men; and kindly charities,
Even such as warm the cottage hearth, were thine.

And therefore falls the tear from eyes not used
To gaze on kings with admiration fond.
And thou hast knelt at meek Religion's shrine
With no mock homage, and hast owned her rights
Sacred in every breast: and therefore rise,
Affectionate, for thee, the orisons
And mingled prayers, alike from vaulted domes
Whence the loud organ peals, and raftered roofs
Of humbler worship.—Still remembering this,
A nation's pity and a nation's love
Linger beside thy couch, in this the day
Of thy sad visitation, veiling faults
Of erring judgement, and not will perverse.
Yet, O that thou hadst closed the wounds of war!
That had been praise to suit a higher strain.

Farewell the years rolled down the gulf of time!
Thy name has chronicled a long bright page
Of England's story; and perhaps the babe
Who opens, as thou closest thine, his eyes
On this eventful world, when aged grown,
Musing on times gone by, shall sigh and say,
Shaking his thin grey hairs, whitened with grief,
Our fathers' days were happy. Fare thee well!
My thread of life has even run with thine
For many a lustre; and thy closing day
I contemplate, not mindless of my own,
Nor to its call reluctant.

Submitted: Monday, September 06, 2010

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