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COEUR DE LION AT THE BIER OF HIS FATHER, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Torches were blazing clear
Last Line: "look on me till I die!"
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, Felicia Dorothea
Subject(s): Henry Ii, King Of England (1133-1189); Remorse; Richard I, King Of England (1157-1199)

TORCHES were blazing clear,
Hymns pealing deep and slow,
Where a king lay stately on his bier
In the church of Fontevraud.
Banners of battle o'er him hung,
And warriors slept beneath;
And light, as noon's broad light, was flung
On the settled face of death.
On the settled face of death
A strong and ruddy glare,
Though dimmed at times by the censer's breath,
Yet it fell still brightest there:
As if each deeply furrowed trace
Of earthly years to show.
Alas! that sceptred mortal's race
Had surely closed in woe!
The marble floor was swept
By many a long dark stole,
As the kneeling priests round him that slept
Sang mass for the parted soul:
And solemn were the strains they poured
Through the stillness of the night,
With the cross above, and the crown and sword,
And the silent king in sight.

There was heard a heavy clang,
As of steel-girt men that tread,
And the tombs and the hollow pavement rang
With a sounding thrill of dread;
And the holy chant was hushed awhile,
As, by the torch's flame,
A gleam of arms up the sweeping aisle
With a mail-clad leader came.

He came with haughty look,
An eagle-glance and clear;
But his proud heart through its breast-plate shook
When he stood beside the bier!
He stood there still with a drooping brow,
And clasped hands o'er it raised
For his father lay before him low --
It was Coeur-de-Lion gazed!

And silently he strove
With the workings of his breast,
But there's more in late repentant love
Than steel may keep suppressed,
And his tears brake forth, at last, like rain, --
Men held their breath in awe;
For his face was seen by his warrior train,
And he recked not that they saw.

He looked upon the dead --
And sorrow seemed to lie,
A weight of sorrow, even like lead,
Pale on the fast-shut eye.
He stooped -- and kissed the frozen cheek,
And the heavy hand of clay;
Till bursting words -- yet all too weak --
Gave his soul's passion way.

"O father! is it vain,
This late remorse and deep?
Speak to me, father! once again:
I weep -- behold, I weep!
Alas! my guilty pride and ire! --
Were but this work undone,
I would give England's crown, my sire!
To hear thee bless thy son.

"Speak to me! Mighty grief
Ere now the dust hath stirred!
Hear me, but hear me! -- father, chief,
My king! I must be heard!
Hushed, hushed -- how is it that I call,
And that thou answerest not?
When was it thus? -- Woe, woe for all
The love my soul forgot!

"Thy silver hairs I see,
So still, so sadly bright!
And father, father! but for me,
They had not been so white!
I bore thee down, high heart! at last:
No longer couldst thou strive.
Oh! for one moment of the past,
To kneel and say -- 'forgive!'

"Thou wert the noblest king
On royal throne e'er seen;
And thou didst wear in knightly ring,
Of all, the stateliest mien;
And thou didst prove, where spears are proved,
In war, the bravest heart:
Oh! ever the renowned and loved
Thou wert -- and there thou art!

"Thou that my boyhood's guide
Didst take fond joy to be! --
The times I've sported at thy side,
And climbed thy parent knee!
And there before the blessed shrine,
My sire! I see thee lie, --
How will that sad still face of thine
Look on me till I die!"

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