Sydney Wheeler Jephcott


A Ballad of the Last King of Thule


There was a King of Thule
Whom a Witch-wife stole at birth;
In a country known but newly,
All under the dumb, huge Earth.

That King's in a Forest toiling;
And he never the green sward delves
But he sees all his green waves boiling
Over his sands and shelves;

In these sunsets vast and fiery,
In these dawns divine he sees
Hy-Brasil, Mannan and Eire,
And the Isle of Appletrees;

He watches, heart-still and breathless,
The clouds through the deep day trailing,
As the white-winged vessels gathered,
Into his harbours sailing;

Ranked Ibis and lazy Eagles
In the great blue flame may rise,
But ne'er Sea-mew or Solan beating
Up through their grey low skies;

When the storm-led fires are breaking,
Great waves of the molten night,
Deep in his eyes comes aching
The icy Boreal Light.

O, lost King, and O, people perished,
Your Thule has grown one grave!
Unvisited as uncherished,
Save by the wandering wave!

The billows burst in his doorways,
The spray swoops over his walls! --
O, his banners that throb dishonoured
O'er arms that hide in his halls --

Deserved is your desolation! --
Why could you not stir and save
The last-born heir of your nation? --
Sold into the South, a slave

Till he dies, and is buried duly
In the hot Australian earth --
The lorn, lost King of Thule,
Whom a Witch-wife stole at birth

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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