Philip IV to His Barber

by Eugene Lee-Hamilton

Eugene Lee-Hamilton

I'll tell thee, if thou carest, what's a king:

A creature all men feed on, — sucked, and bled;

A carcass in the leech-pond, not yet dead;

Whose shape you scarce can see, so close they cling.

Sunk to the throat in forms; as cramped a thing

As is the Turkish felon, who is said

To be interred alive, all save the head,

For passing dogs to sniff at, wondering.

In life he bears the weight of pomp and fear,

Of all the instincts that he has repressed,

Of all the fictions that he has to wear;

In death no sun nor blade of grass may rest

Upon the horror of his triple bier,

But some dark minster weighs upon his chest.

Last updated January 14, 2019