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Poem by Thomas Aird

Wash the Feet of Poor Old Age

Thou, the King of kingdoms great,
Thou, the Consort of his state,
Ye have eaten Heavenly food,
Jesus' body, Jesus' blood;
Hence His holy will to do,
Strength and grace be given to you!
Be the pledge of this, that crown,
Sword, and sceptre ye lay down:
Girt with Jesus' towel be,
Bow the head and bend the knee;
Best His warfare would ye wage?
Wash the feet of poor old Age.
Sitting twelve and twelve, behold
Men and women poor and old;
Yet their looks are meekly high,
For The Twelve they typify.
Here the Austrian Cæsar bends,
There his Empress condescends;
Yet the honour mild they feel,
As they bow and as they kneel,
Washing, as the King of kings
(Heavenliest of His Heavenly things,
In His earthly pilgrimage)
Washed the feet of poor old Age.
Eldest on the stage of men,
Far past our threescore years and ten,
Nought in you but dignity
Can those Royal children see,
Self-command, if passions keen;
God's good keeping; age serene,
Winning, as the setting day
Wears the cognate morrow's ray,
Gleams from lights beyond the grave,
Lights to beautify and save:
They with you in speech engage,
As they wash the feet of Age.
Patriarch, tell the Cæsar, life,
Even the calmest, is a strife;
Even the longest, is a span:
Pain and fear are born with man,
Many tears and heavy sighing,
(Still the sparks are upward flying!)
All the days that thou hast seen,
Few and evil have they been.
Harp and truncheon, crook and crown,
To the dust must all go down.
Happiest they who, lowly sage,
Wash the feet of poor old Age.

The agèd folk are rising slow,
As the Princely Consorts go;
Leaning on their staves they rise,
Peace and love are in their eyes,
Shakes their hair in thin white slips,
Murmured blessings move their lips:
From those Royal heads be far
Treason, stratagem, and war!
Earthquake miss them, plague, and pain;
Quiet honours crown their reign!
Christ receive them from life's stage,
For they washed the feet of Age!

May 1841

Thomas Aird

Thomas Aird's other poems:
  1. The Devil's Dream on Mount Aksbeck
  2. My Mother's Grave
  3. Fitte the First
  4. Song the Seventh
  5. Fall of Babylon

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