John Boyle O'Reilly

(28 June 1844 - 10 August 1890 / Dowth Castle, County Meath)

The King’s Evil - Poem by John Boyle O'Reilly

They brought them up from their huts in the fens,
The woeful sufferers gaunt and grim;
They flocked from the city's noisome dens
To the Monarch's throne to be touched by him.
'For his touch,' they whisper, 'is sovereign balm,
The anointed King has a power to heal.'
Oh, the piteous prayers as the royal palm
Is laid on their necks while they humbly kneel!

Blind hope! But the cruel and cold deceit
A rich reward to the palace brings;
A snare for the untaught People's feet,
And a courtier's lie for the good of Kings.
But the years are sands, and they slip away
Till the baseless wall in the sun lies bare;
The touch of the King has no balm to-day,
And the Right Divine is the People's share.

The word remains: but the Evil now
Is caused, not cured, by imperial hands,—
The lightless soul and the narrow brow,
The servile millions in armed bands;
The sweat-wrung gold from the peasant's toil
Flung merrily out by the gambling lord,
Who is reckless owner of serf and soil,
And master of church and law and sword.

But the night has receded: the dawn like a tide
Creeps slow round the world, till the feet of the throne
Are lapped by the waves that shall seethe and ride
Where the titles are gulfed and the shields overblown.
Our Kings are the same as the Kings of old,
But a Man stands up where there crouched a clown;
The Evil shall die when his hand grows bold,
And the touch of the People is laid on the Crown!

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Poem Submitted: Monday, May 21, 2012

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