A King's Soliloquy

From the slow march and muffled drum,

And crowds distrest,

And book and bell, at length I have come

To my full rest.

A ten years' rule beneath the sun

Is wound up here,

And what I have done, what left undone,

Figures out clear.

Yet in the estimate of such

It grieves me more

That I by some was loved so much

Than that I bore,

From others, judgment of that hue

Which over-hope

Breeds from a theoretic view

Of regal scope.

For kingly opportunities

Right many have sighed;

How best to bear its devilries

Those learn who have tried!

I have eaten the fat and drunk the sweet,

Lived the life out

From the first greeting glad drum-beat

To the last shout.

What pleasure earth affords to kings

I have enjoyed

Through its long vivid pulse-stirrings

Even till it cloyed.

What days of strain, what nights of stress

Can cark a throne,

Even one maintained in peacefulness,

I too have known.

And so, I think, could I step back

To life again,

I should prefer the average track

Of average men,

Since, as with them, what kingship would

It cannot do,

Nor to first thoughts however good

Hold itself true.

Something binds hard the royal hand,

As all that be,

And it is That has shaped, has planned

My acts and me.

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