Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906 / Ohio / United States)
The King Is Dead
Aye, lay him in his grave, the old dead year!
His life is lived--fulfilled his destiny.
Have you for him no sad, regretful tear
To drop beside the cold, unfollowed bier?
Can you not pay the tribute of a sigh?
Was he not kind to you, this dead old year?
Did he not give enough of earthly store?
Enough of love, and laughter, and good cheer?
Have not the skies you scanned sometimes been clear?
How, then, of him who dies, could you ask more?
It is not well to hate him for the pain
He brought you, and the sorrows manifold.
To pardon him these hurts still I am fain;
For in the panting period of his reign,
He brought me new wounds, but he healed the old.
One little sigh for thee, my poor, dead friend--
One little sigh while my companions sing.
Thou art so soon forgotten in the end;
We cry e'en as thy footsteps downward tend:
'The king is dead! long live the king!'
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