Where the Pelican Builds
and Other Poems

To Henry the Fifth

Named King of France, A.D. 1873.
Translated from the French of Victor Hugo.

Mary Hannay Foott

MY YOUTH was passing, Sire, whilst you among
The cradle-wrappings slept; my morning-song
Sung o’er your pillow. Winds of heaven have thrown
Us both, since then, on heights apart and lone.
Heights! For misfortune drear, our destined land,
So thunder-scarred, a-nigh to heaven must stand!
The north and south are nearer than our ways
Are near to one another; and Fate lays
The purple round you, and has not withheld
Our France’s sceptre-dazzlements of eld.
I, crowned with silver hairs, say—praising you—
“Well done!” That man is to his manhood true
Who bravely, at his own behest, will do
High deeds of self -undoing; will forego
All—all—save immemorial Honour;—though
She seem to earthlier eyes a phantom, more
Will follow her (as erst in Elsinore
One faithful heart obeyed the beckoning ghost),
Nor stoop to buy a kingdom at her cost.
That you are aught save honest, none may say;
The Lily must be white—all white—for aye.
A Bourbon can but reign as Capet’s heir,
Or waive his kingship. History is aware
Of wrecks enough—of changing battles’ din—
Of those who grandly lose, or basely win!
Better with honour, Prince, the throne to quit.
Than, where St. Louis sat, dishonoured sit!

Melbourne Argus, 1873.

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