by Hugh McCulloch
And when in the crusade he led the van,
He acted rather as his people's sire.
And spared their strength as much as leader can.
And for the first ideal of his desire —
His service to his Master — as a lad
He taught his spirit upward to aspire.
A keen delight in godly things he had,
He loved his matins and his vespers well,
He made the hearts of Christian shepherds glad.
And more ; a feith-sustaining miracle,
Within the dingy walls of Paris-town
He reared for Mary's love the Sainte ChapeUe.
Yet never suffered to be trodden down
For all his meekness ; rather held his own
With sturdy arm, and girt up knightly gown
'Gainst threateners of his conscience or his throne,
Whether the crosier or the lance they bore.
And even the Holy Father had to own
The king was right, and never ventured more
Against the Gallic freedom to advance
While Louis IX. the royal mantle wore.
Yet more he wrought for God; uplifted lance
Undaunted did he bear in two crusades,
Tho' all his heart was pining for his France.
He toiled through perils, sudden ambuscades.
Long sieges, fevers, battles, fights at sea.
Nor 'scaped the skill of Saracenic blades.
And though his prowess oft snatched victory
From hopelessness, the times were not in tune
For Palestine in Christian hands to be.
So Louis was denied the utmost boon
A knight could ask : to free the Sepulchre —
Yet suffered in the trying, for, one noon.
In Egypt, when the air could scarcely stir
For siillen heat, while yet the battle roared
More fiercely than the fabled thunderer.
The king, with shattered strength and broken sword.
Divided from his knights in the affray.
Was captured by the Babylonian lord.
And captive held until his land should pay
A royal ransom for her knight and king.
All Christendom was drowned in tears that day.
His death came from his second journeying
As holy warrior ; for a second time
Against the Pagans warred this sainted king.
But this time he was somewhat past his prime,
Was spent with all his years of knightly war,
And weary with combatting earthly crime.
Last updated August 24, 2017