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CROMWELL'S SOLILOQUY OVER THE DEAD BODY OF CHARLES, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Charles sleeps, and feels no more the grinding cares
Last Line: My spirit, like a bark, sweeps on to fortune!
Alternate Author Name(s): Bulwer, Edward; Lytton Of Knebworth, 1st Baron; Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer, Lord
Subject(s): Charles I, King Of England (1600-1649); Cromwell, Oliver (1599-1658)

CHARLES sleeps, and feels no more the grinding cares,
The perils and the doubts, that wait on POWER.
For him no more the uneasy day, -- the night
At war with sleep! for him are hush'd at last
Loud Hate and hollow Love. Reverse thy law,
O blind Compassion of the human heart!
And let not Death, which feels not, sins not, weeps not,
Rob Life of all that Suffering asks from Pity. --
Lo! what a slender barrier parts in twain
The presence of the breathing and the dead,
The vanquisher and victim; the firm foot
Of lusty strength, and the unmoving mass
Of that all strength must come to. Yet once more,
Ere the grave closes on that solemn dust,
Will I survey what men have fear'd to look on.

'Tis a firm frame; the sinews strongly knit,
The chest deep-set and broad; save some gray hairs
Saddening those locks of love, no sign of age!
Had nature been his executioner,
He would have outlived me! And to this end --
This narrow empire -- this unpeopled kingdom --
This six feet realm -- the over lust of sway
Hath been the guide! He would have stretch'd his will
O'er that unlimited world which men's souls are!
Fetter'd the earth's pure air -- for Freedom is
That air to honest lips; -- and here he lies,
In dust most eloquent -- to after-time
A never silent oracle for Kings! --
Was this the hand that strain'd within its grasp
So haught a sceptre? -- this the shape that wore
Majesty like a garment? Spurn that clay,
It can resent not: speak of royal crimes,
And it can frown not: schemeless lies the brain
Whose thoughts were sources of such fearful deeds.
What things are we, O Lord, when at thy will
A worm like this could shake the mighty world!
A few years since, and in the port was moor'd
A bark to far Columbia's forests bound;
And I was one of those indignant hearts
Panting for exile in the thirst of freedom;
Then, that pale clay (poor clay that was a King!)
Forbade my parting, in the wanton pride
Of vain command, and with a fated sceptre
Waved back the shadow of the death to come.
Here stands that baffled and forbidden wanderer,
Loftiest amid the wrecks of ruin'd empire,
Beside the coffin of a headless King!
He thrall'd my fate -- I have prepared his doom:
He made me captive -- lo! his narrow cell!

So hands unseen do fashion forth the earth
Of our frail schemes into our funeral urns;
So walking, dream-led in life's sleep, our steps
Move blindfold to the scaffold, or the throne! --
Ay, to the THRONE! From that dark thought I strike
The light which cheers me onward to my goal.
Wild though the night, and angry though the winds,
High o'er the billows of the battling sea
My spirit, like a bark, sweeps on to fortune!

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