The King is dead! Long Live the King!

by Isabella Valancy Crawford

Isabella Valancy Crawford

A HERALD stood upon the wold,
A round moon high above him rolled;
He blew a clear blast, shrill and bold,

Up to the star-touched hills, and low
To moor and valley deep in snow.
The long, fine, silver notes did blow

Where taper-jewelled cities lay,
Like mantles spread upon the way
The feet of queens might hap to stray.

On palace wall the loud blast beat,
Pierced the small vein of narrow street,
O'erblew the lute and dancers' feet.

The herald turned him east and west;
His silver beard rolled down his breast,
White samite glowed his spangled vest.

Again that shrill, clear blast took wing;
The round earth with its voice did ring:
"The King is dead! Long live the King!"

To north, to south, he turned his head;
His trumpet spake: "The King is dead!
Long live the King!" again it said.

Said one of twain who heard the cry:
"The dear old year can never die;
He saw us wedded, thou and I.

"His days were flushed with flame of spring
What time he blessed our nuptial ring;
We heard his youngest robins sing.

"And if it chance that we should see
From that fair day a century,
My wife, together, it will be

"That when thy foot, dear heart, draws near,
With thee shall come that happy year.
To let them lay him on his bier,

"And let the shrill, sweet trumpet cry:
"The King is dead!' He cannot die
While love abides within our sky."

By brooklet slim as silver sword,
Ice-stifled thunders of the ford,
Again the trumpet rang its word.

Round the white moon its voice did cling;
It smote the cold stars with its wing:
"The King is dead! Long live the King!"

Said one who gazed upon the sky:
"Oh, wherefore mock me with that cry?
The bygone year can never die.

"His days were gilded tissues, spun
By laughing earth and yellow sun;
His roses like red planets shone.

"His breath was wine, his beard was gold,
His leafy mantle richly rolled
O'er forest, meadow, lea and wold.

"He came in state by town and lea;
His blue eyes swelled on mine and me—
I had my babe upon my knee.

"Her sweet, small head his lips caressed;
He took my one babe from my breast—
She in his flowery arms was pressed.

"Ah, God, dear God! was ever grief
In mother heart more poorly brief
Than time itself? His bud and leaf

"A fresh, fair anguish still must be,
Until some day again I see
The babe he took upon my knee.

"To let them lay him on his bier!
He lives; while grief can shed a tear
He cannot die—the bygone year."

The earth was spangled with the eyes
Of children, as with stars and skies,
Who watched the New Year in.
Lark-clear they sang from hut and hall:
"The new King is the baby small,
Without a spot or sin.

"Our little King! Our little King!
The baby sweet with trumpets bring,
In snowy cloak and cope;
But who shall hold him up that we
His dimples and his smiles may see?
The Fairy Princess, Hope.

"O dear, bright stars, fly down, fly down,
And make our baby such a crown
As men shall joy to see!
And who shall rock his cradle bed?
First place his crown upon his head?
Faith, Hope, and Charity."

Last updated April 01, 2023