Edith Nesbit

(15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924 / Kennington / Surrey / England)

A Prayer For The King's Majesty


22nd January, 1901.

THE Queen is dead. God save the King,
In this his hour of grief,
When sorrow gathers memories in a sheaf
To lay them on his shoulders as he stands
Inheriting her glories and her lands--
First gain of his at which his Mother's voice
Has not been first to bless and to rejoice--
A man, set lonely between gain and loss.
(O words of love the heart remembereth,
O mighty loss outweighing every gain!)
A Son whose kingdom Death's arm lies across,
A King whose Mother lies alone with Death
Wrapped in the folds of white implacable sleep.
O God, who seest the tears Thy children weep,
O God, who countest each sad heart-beat, see
How our King needs the grace we ask of Thee!
Thou knowest how little and how vain a thing
Is Empire, when the heart is sick with pain--
God, save the King!
The Queen is dead. The splendour of her days,
The sorrow of them both alike merge now
In the new aureole that lights her brow.
The clamour of her people's voice in praise
Must hush itself to the still voice that prays
In the holy chamber of Death. Tread softly here,
A mighty Queen lies dead.
Her people's heart wears black,
The black bells toll unceasing in their ear,
And on the gold sun's track
The great world round
Like a black ring the voice of mourning goes,
Till even our ancient foes
With eyes downbent, and brotherly bared head,
Keep mourning watch with us. This is the hour
When Love lends all his power
To speed grief's arrows from the bow of Death,
When sighs are idle breath,
When tears are fountains vain.
She will not wake again,
Not now, not here.
O great and good and infinitely dear,
O Mother of your people, sleep is sweet,
No more Life's thorny ways will wound your feet.

O Mother dear, sleep sound!
When you shall wake,
Your brows freed from the crown that made them ache
So many a time, and wear the heavenly crown,
Then, then you will look down
On us who love you, and, remembering,
The love of earth will breathe with us our prayer,
Our prayer prayed here, joined to your prayer prayed there:
Who knows what radiant answer it may bring?
'God save the King!'

The Queen is dead. God save the King!
From all ill thought and deed,
From heartless service and from selfish sway,
From treason, and the vain imagining
Of evil counsellors, and the noisome breed
Of flatterers who eat the soul away,
God save the King!

From loss and pain and tears
Such as her many years
Brought her; from battle and strife,
And the inmost hurt of life,
The wounds that no crown can heal,
No ermine robes conceal,
God save the King!

God, by our memories of his Mother's face,
By the love that makes our heart her dwelling-place,
Grant to our sorrow this desired grace:
God save the King!

* * * * * * * * *

The Queen is dead. God save the King.
This is no hour when joy has leave to sing;
Only, amid our tears, we are bold to pray,
More boldly, in that we pray sorrowing,
In this most sorrowful day.
God, who wast of a mortal Mother born,
Who driest the tears with which Thy children mourn,
God, save the King!

Look down on him whose crown is wet with tears
In which its splendour fades and disappears--
His tears, our tears, tears out of all her lands.
The Queen is dead.
God! strengthen the King's hands!
God, save the King!

Submitted: Monday, April 19, 2010

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