Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TRIFLES, by JOHN TOWNSEND TROWBRIDGE

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TRIFLES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The king's men, when he had slain the boar
Last Line: And all these things are trifles!
Variant Title(s): How The King Lost His Crown

THE King's men, when he had slain the boar,
Strung him aloft on the fisher's oar,
And, two behind and two before,
In triumph bore him along the shore.
An oar! says the King: 'tis a trifle! why
Did the fisher frown and the good wife sigh?
A trifle, sire! was the Fool's reply:
Then frown or laugh who will: for I,
Who laugh at all and am only a clown,
Will never more laugh at trifles!

A Runner next day leaped down the sand,
And launched a skiff from the fisher's strand;
For he cried,—An army invades the land!
The passes are seized on either hand!
And I must carry my message straight,
Across the lake to the castle gate! . . . . .
The castle he neared, but the waves were great,
The fanged rocks foamed like the jaws of Fate;
And lacking an oar the boat went down . . . . .
The Furies laugh at trifles!

The swimmer against the waves began
To strive as a valiant swimmer can.
Methinks, said the Fool, 'twere no bad plan
If succor were sent the drowning man!
To succor a periled pawn instead,
The monarch, moving his rook ahead,
Bowed over the chessmen, white and red,
Gave Check! then looked on the lake and said,
The boat is lost, the man will drown!
O King! beware of trifles!

To the lords and mirthful dames the bard
Was trolling his latest song; the guard
Were casting dice in the castle yard;
And the captains all were drinking hard.
Then came the chief of the halberdiers,
And told to the King's astounded ears:
An army on every side appears!
An army with banners and bows and spears.
They have gained the wall and surprised the town! . . . . .
Our fates are woven of trifles.

The red usurper reached the throne;
The tidings over the realm were blown;
And, flying to alien lands alone
With a trusty few, the King made moan ...
But long and loudly laughed the Clown:
We broke the oar and the boat went down,
And so the messenger chanced to drown:
The messenger lost, we lost the town;
And the loss of the town has cost a crown;
And all these things are trifles!

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