David Lewis Paget
The Fall Of The Earl Of Grace - Poem by David Lewis Paget
One last night in the dungeon,
One last night to his fall,
The Earl of Grace was chained in place
To the damp of the dungeon wall.
They’d taken him at the tourney,
The knights of the Duke of Beck,
While the King had turned his face away
As they fettered him by the neck.
They’d taken his chain of office,
They’d taken his rings and seal,
The shifting tides of the time had sighed
In showing him what was real,
The King had removed his favour,
The court had looked on askance,
That final fall from a height so high
Was part of the courtly dance.
For no-one survived forever,
In that court of grim intrigue,
He’d been aligned with the prince to find
The prince was brought to his knees.
Grace didn’t have the King’s permit
To marry the Lady Grey,
And that, just one of the sins he wore
Conspired to put him away.
For Beck was stalking the lady,
The wealth and the lands she had,
Her cold response to his needs and wants
Had driven the Duke quite mad.
The prince, confined to his quarters
Was backing the Earl of Grace,
But once the marriage had come to light
The scandal had brought disgrace.
He stood in the dark, and shivered,
In the hour before the dawn,
And watched them setting the gallows up
That would take his quaking form.
Beck had wanted the axe and block
But the King had murmured, ‘No! ’
‘I’ll not part him from his noble head,
But I’ll hang him, long and slow! ’
The hangman came at the dawning,
Was strapping his hands and feet,
While shuffling him to the drop, he said,
‘Hanging an Earl’s a treat! ’
And Beck was there to await him,
To whisper his evil spite,
‘You’ll be deep in the earth, while I
Will be with your wife tonight.’
They took their time with the halter,
Were seeming to draw it out,
When down in the court a clatter
Of knights, and an awful shout:
‘The King is dead, long live the King, ’
As they rescued the Earl of Grace,
Shuffled him off the drop, and then
They hung the Duke in his place.
17 March 2015
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