Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON THE QUEEN'S VISIT TO LONDON, by WILLIAM COWPER



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ON THE QUEEN'S VISIT TO LONDON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When, long sequestered from his throne
Last Line: Such previous woe the price!
Subject(s): George Iii, King Of England (1738-1820)


(THE NIGHT OF THE 17TH MARCH, 1789)

WHEN, long sequestered from his throne,
George took his seat again,
By right of worth, not blood alone,
Entitled here to reign;

Then Loyalty, with all her lamps
New trimmed, a gallant show,
Chasing the darkness and the damps,
Set London in a glow.

'Twas hard to tell of streets or squares
Which formed the chief display;
These most resembling clustered stars,
Those the long milky way.

Bright shone the roofs, the domes, the spires,
And rockets flew, self-driven,
To hang their momentary fires
Amid the vault of heaven.

So, fire with water to compare,
The ocean serves, on high
Up-spouted by a whale in air,
To express unwieldy joy.

Had all the pageants of the world
In one procession joined,
And all the banners been unfurled
That heralds e'er designed,

For no such sight had England's Queen
Forsaken her retreat,
Where George recovered made a scene,
Sweet always, doubly sweet.

Yet glad she came that night to prove,
A witness undescried,
How much the object of her love
Was loved by all beside.

Darkness the skies had mantled o'er
In aid of her design,--
Darkness, O Queen! ne'er called before
To veil a deed of thine.

On borrowed wheels away she flies,
Resolved to be unknown,
And gratify no curious eyes
That night, except her own.

Arrived, a night like noon she sees,
And hears the million hum;
As all by instinct, like the bees,
Had known their sovereign come.

Pleased she beheld aloft portrayed,
On many a splendid wall,
Emblems of health and heavenly aid,
And George the theme of all:

Unlike the enigmatic line,
So difficult to spell,
Which shook Belshazzar at his wine
The night his city fell.

Soon, watery grew her eyes and dim,
But with a joyful tear:
None else, except in prayer for him,
George ever drew from her.

It was a scene in every part
Like those in fable feigned,
And seemed by some magician's art
Created and sustained.

But other magic there, she knew,
Had been exerted none,
To raise such wonders in her view,
Save love of George alone.

That cordial thought her spirits cheered,
And through the cumbrous throng,
Not else unworthy to be feared,
Conveyed her calm along.

So, ancient poets say, serene
The sea-maid rides the waves,
And fearless of the billowy scene
Her peaceful bosom laves.

With more than astronomic eyes
She viewed the sparkling show;
One Georgian star adorns the skies,
She myriads found below.

Yet let the glories of a night
Like that, once seen, suffice;
Heaven grant us no such future sight,
Such previous woe the price!





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