When Thran Was King


In memory of Theodore Roosevelt

There was never rust on the oarlocks
When Thran was king;
Our ships were as swift as swallows
On dipping wing;
There was never rust on the spearhead
Nor on the sword
When Thran, that mighty viking,
Was over-lord.
How we shouted at the oar-sweeps
As down the day
Our beaked prows clove asunder
Their foamy way.…

Multitudinous as armies
That bivouac wide
The stars they camped about us,
And the great tide
Was powdered golden with them
Till we beheld
That naught was true but Magic
And, wonder-spelled,
We knew Romance was greater
Than Fact can say
As the dawn set us, golden,
In golden day.…

Oh, there were lands to greet us
Fringed round with foam
That almost slew forever
All thoughts of home;
Oh, there were copper women
In isles sun-trod
Who bent down low before us,
Each man, a god;
And there were ancient cities
That loomed alone
Each shining tower a ruby,
A gem, each stone.…

Yea, we've come back to Norland,
Now Thran has died,
To men who love their bellies
And naught beside,
Who think that we are children
And smile askance,
Daring not drink the vintage
Of High Romance.…
Aye, fat smoke wreathes the cottage;
There's much to eat:
You've full grain from the harvest,
You've good red meat—
But, though you call us madmen,
We'll ever sing
Of the great years of wonder
When Thran was king!
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