For the sake of that dear olden time,
That sweet, sweet olden time,
I look forth ever sadly still,
And hope the time may come again,
When Life hath borne its meed of pain,
And stoutly struggled up the hill,
When I once more, with heart elate,
May meet her at another gate,
Beyond the blighting breath of fate,
That chill’d the sweet, sweet olden time.
The King call’d forth his first-born, and took
him by the hand,
“Come! boy, and see the people you must soon command:
A bold and stalwart nation, dauntless in the fight,
Strong as an iron buckler to guard their monarch’s right.”
Then the trumpets sounded, and his vassals came,
Gather’d round his banner, loudly rang his name;
Clash’d their burnish’d targets, waved
their flashing steel
A goodly gath’ring look’d they, arm’d from head to heel.
“Child! my heart beats proudly, now I feel a
As I look around me on this martial ring;
There I see the sinews that support a state,
There I see the strength that makes a monarch great.
Men whose life is glory—men whose death
Living still in story past the reach of shame.”
Many years pass’d over—the old King
And his child, his first-born, reigned in his stead.
Many years he reigned, and upon his brow
Now the frost of age lay like the winter’s snow.
So he took his son forth, as his father had,
“Come! and see thy people,” said he to the lad.
And they rode together through the busy town:
Many a peaceful merchant passing up and down;
Loud the workman’s hammer sounded through the
Portly look’d the craftsmen, standing ’mid their ware;
And the sounds of labour, blent with cheerful song,
Told of peace and plenty as they rode along.
Smith and craftsman pausing, youth and smiling lass,
Trader, man and master, stood to see them pass,
With a bonnet lifted, and “God bless him!”
By many a gentle bosom, many a reverend head.
So the father turn’d him to his son and cried,
“Are not these bold subjects worth a monarch’s pride?
In their own free circles, by their quiet hearth,
Rearing him a bulwark steady as the Earth:
On their mighty anvils, with a giant’s skill,
Bending stubborn iron to his lightest will:
Prosperous and happy, free in heart and soul,
These send forth my glory to the furthest Pole.
Where is there in story any fame above
That King’s whose deeds are written in his people’s love?”
“A hunter of shadows, himself a shade.”—HOMER.