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Poem by Francis Turner Palgrave


A Home in the Palace


      1840-1861

        Thrice fortunate he
Who, in the palace born, has early learn'd
  The lore of sweet simplicity:
From smiling gold his eyes inviolate turn'd,
Turn'd unreturning:--Who the people's cause,
      The sovereign-levelling laws,

        Above the throne,
--He made for them, not they for him,--has set;
  Life-lavish for his land alone,
Whether she crown with gratitude, or forget:--
He, who in courts beneath the purple weight
      Of precedence moves sedate,

        By all that glare
Of needful pageantry less stirr'd than still'd,
  Bringing a waft of natural air
Through halls with pomp and flattering incense fill'd;
And in the central heart's calm secret, waits
      The closure of the gates,

        The music mute,
The darkling lamps, the festal tables clear:--
  Then,--glad as one who from pursuit
Breathes safe, and lets himself himself appear,--
Turns to the fireside jest, the laughing eyes,
      The love without disguise,--

        On home alone,
The loyal partnership of man with wife,
  Building a throne beyond the throne;
All happiness in that common household life
By peasant shared with prince,--when toil and health,
      True parents of true wealth,

        To its fair close
Round the long day, and all are in the nest,
  And care relaxes to repose,
And the blithe restless nursery lulls to rest;
Prayer at the mother's knee; and on their beds
      We kiss the shining heads!

        --Thrice fortunate he
Who o'er himself thus won his masterdom,
  Earning that rare felicity
E'en in the palace walls to find the Home!
Who shaped his life in calmness, firm and true,
      Each day, and all day through,

        To that high goal
Where self, for England's sake, was self-effaced,
  In silence reining-in his soul
On the strait difficult line by wisdom traced,
'Twixt gulf and siren, avalanche and ravine,
      Guarding the golden mean.

        Hence, as the days
Went by, with insight time-enrich'd and true,
  O'er Europe's policy-tangled maze
He glanced, and touch'd the central shining clue:
And when the tides of party roar'd and surged,
      'Gainst the state-bulwarks urged

        By factious aim
Masquing beneath some specious patriot cloke,
  Or flaunting a time-honour'd name,--
Athwart the flood he held an even stroke;
Between extremes on her old compass straight
      Aiding to steer the state.

        With equal mind,
Hence,--sure of those he loved on earth, and then
  His loved ones sure again to find,--
For Christ's and England's cause, Goodwill to men,
To the end he strove, and put the fever by,--
      Ready to live or die.

        --And if in death
We were not so alone, who might not quit,
  Smiling, this tediousness of breath,
These bubble joys that flash and burst and flit,--
This tragicomedy of life, where scarce
      We know if it be farce,

        A puppet-sight
Of nerve-pull'd dolls that o'er the world dance by,
  Or Good in that unequal fight
With Ill . . . who from such theatre would not fly?
--But those dear faces round the bed disarm
      Death of his natural charm!

        --O Prince, to Her
First placed, first honour'd in our love and faith,
  True stay, true constant counseller,
From that first love of boyhood's prime,--to death!
O if thy soul on earth permitted gaze
      In these less-fortunate days

        When, hour by hour,
The million armaments of the world are set
  Skill-weapon'd with new demon-power,
Mouthing around this little isle, . . . and yet
On dream-security our fate we cast,
      Of all that glory-past

        With light fool-heart
Oblivious! . . . O in spirit again restored,
  Insoul us to the nobler part,
The chivalrous loyalty of thy life and word!
Thou, who in Her to whom first love was due,
      Didst love her England too,

        If earthly care
In that eternal home, where thou dost wait
  Renewal of the days that were,
Move thee at all,--upon the realm estate
The wisdom of thy virtue, the full store
      Thy life's experience bore!

        O known when lost,
Lost, yet not fully known, in all thy grace
  Of bloom by cruel early frost,
Best prized and most by Her, to whom thy face
Was love and life and counsel:--If this strain
      Renew not all in vain

        The bitter cry
Of yearning for the loss we yet deplore,--
  Yet for her heart, who stood too nigh
For comfort, till God's hour thy face restore.
Man has no lenitive!  He, who wrought the grief, . . .
      Alone commands relief.

        --Thou, as the rose
Lies buried in her fragrance, when on earth
  The summer-loosen'd blossom flows,
Art sepulchred and embalm'd in native worth:
While to thy grave, in England's anxious years,
      We bring our useless tears.



Francis Turner Palgrave


Francis Turner Palgrave's other poems:
  1. Edith of England
  2. Alfred The Great
  3. England Once More
  4. Elizabeth at Tilbury
  5. A Crusader's Tomb


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