Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, KING HENRY V AND THE HERMIT OF DREUX, by ROBERT SOUTHEY



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KING HENRY V AND THE HERMIT OF DREUX, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: He past unquestioned through the camp
Last Line: Upon his dying day.
Subject(s): Great Britain - History; Henry V, King Of England (1387-1422); Hermits; Punishment; Repentance; Sickness; Soldiers; War; English History; Penitence; Illness


HE past unquestioned through the camp,
Their heads the soldiers bent
In silent reverence, or begg'd
A blessing as he went;
And so the hermit past along,
And reach'd the royal tent.

King Henry sate in his tent alone,
The map before him lay,
Fresh conquests he was planning there
To grace the future day.

King Henry lifted up his eyes
The intruder to behold,
With reverence he the hermit saw,
For he was very old;
His look was gentle as a saint's,
And yet his eye was bold.

Repent thee, Henry, of the wrongs
That thou hast done this land;
O King, repent in time, for know
The judgment is at hand.

I have past forty years of peace
Beside the river Blaise,
But what a weight of woe hast thou
Laid on my latter days.

I used to see along the stream,
The white sail sailing down,
That wafted food in better times
To yonder peaceful town.

Henry! I never now behold
The white sail sailing down;
Famine, disease, and death, and thou,
Destroy that wretched town.

I used to hear the traveller's voice,
As here he past along;
Or maiden, as she loiter'd home,
Singing her even song.

I never hear the traveller's voice,
In fear he hastens by;
But I have heard the village maid
In vain for succour cry.

I used to see the youths row here,
And watch the dripping oar,
As pleasantly their viols' tones
Came softened to the shore.

King Henry, many a blacken'd corpse
I now see floating down!
Thou bloody man! repent in time,
And leave this leaguer'd town.

I shall go on, King Henry cried,
And conquer this good land:
Seest thou not, hermit, that the Lord
Has given it to my hand?

The hermit heard King Henry speak;
And angrily look'd down;
His face was gentle, and for that
More solemn was his frown.

What, if no miracle from heaven
The murderer's arm control,
Think you for that the weight of blood
Lies lighter on his soul?

Thou conqueror King, repent in time,
Or dread the coming woe;
For, Henry, thou hast heard the threat,
And soon shalt feel the blow.

King Henry forced a careless smile,
As the hermit went his way;
But Henry soon remembered him,
Upon his dying day.





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