AN OLD HARPER’S TALE.
The tide of time hath swept the land, and the blight of blackened grain
Lies withered, and ungarnered, that encumbered England’s plain;
The sowers cast the seeds of death, and reaped with blood-stained sword,
That day they sent the white king’s soul to meet their Judge and Lord.
I knew him in his youth, my Lords! and loved his winsome ways,
The scholars’ or the artists’ taste for quiet and restful days;
I said ‘Tis well for England’s need, bold Harry holds the helm,
And not this gentle boy whom adverse winds would soon o’erwhelm.
I trembled, for I loved him so, that day I saw him crowned,
To mark the dreamer’s listless gaze unheed the lowering brows around.
‘No power to stand between thy will and God’s—O! Sovereign Lord, and King,
‘Twas much to place in that frail hand, the power of one man’s seal and ring.
Of mind too delicate to bear the glare and dazzle of a throne,
I ne’er had feared for Harry’s sake—had he to stand alone!
God willed it otherwise, my Lords! the strong was ta’en in death,
To leave the sceptre of his race to pass—with one poor victim’s death.
I saw him in his spotless garb, that winter’s day he died!
The dreamer’s gaze had gone, my Lords! the gold was there in furnace tried.
Not Harry in his boldest mood, more fearless could have stood,
Nor sweeter smile have lit that face, the day his Spanish bride he woo’ed.
Had he but waked to clearer sight, nor tried to quell with cold disdain,
But one short year o’er this, he had not reigned a king in vain!
Yet ah! the cruel destiny that erst pursued his race, he shared:
To nerve the murderer Cromwell’s hand, to raise the flashing steel unbared.
I saw him die, my Lords! I wept the blood-stain on our land,
I never wept for him, my Lords! he was too high and grand.
White was his chastened soul, my Lords! white were the robes he wore,
And the white snow fell from God’s own hand on the purple pall they bore.
White to his cruel grave he went, so quiet, so calm, so pale,
For kingly race will tell, my Lords! where baser blood would fail.
— Alice C. MacDonell of Keppoch.