Tristram of Lyonesse and Other Poems



Ad generem Cereris sine cæde et vulnere pauci
Descendunt reges, aut siccâ morte tyranni.

Algernon Charles Swinburne

BY no dry death another king goes down
    The way of kings. Yet may no free man’s voice,
    For stern compassion and deep awe, rejoice
That one sign more is given against the crown,
That one more head those dark red waters drown
    Which rise round thrones whose trembling equipoise
    Is propped on sand and bloodshed and such toys
As human hearts that shrink at human frown.
The name writ red on Polish earth, the star
That was to outshine our England’s in the far
    East heaven of empire where is one that saith
Proud words now, prophesying of this White Czar?
    ‘In bloodless pangs few kings yield up their breath,
    Few tyrants perish by no violent death,’

        March 14, 1881.

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