At Westminster, hid from the light of day,
Many who once had shone as monarchs lay.
Edward the Pious, and two Edwards more,
The second Richard, Henrys three or four;
That is to say, those who were called the Third,
Fifth, Seventh, and Eighth (the much self-widowered),
And James the Scot, and near him Charles the Second,
And, too, the second George could there be reckoned.
Of women, Mary and Queen Elizabeth,
And Anne, all silent in a musing death;
And William’s Mary, and Mary, Queen of Scots,
And consort-queens whose names oblivion blots;
And several more whose chronicle one sees
Adorning ancient royal pedigrees.
– Now, as they drowsed on, freed from Life’s old thrall,
And heedless, save of things exceptional,
Said one: “What means this throbbing thudding sound
That reaches to us here from overground;
“A sound of chisels, augers, planes, and saws,
Infringing all ecclesiastic laws?
“And these tons-weight of timber on us pressed,
Unfelt here since we entered into rest?
“Surely, at least to us, being corpses royal,
A meet repose is owing by the loyal?”
“–Perhaps a scaffold!” Mary Stuart sighed,
“If such still be. It was that way I died.”
“–Ods! Far more like,” said he the many-wived,
“That for a wedding ’tis this work’s contrived.
“Ha-ha! I never would bow down to Rimmon,
But I had a rare time with those six women!”
“Not all at once?” gasped he who loved confession.
“Nay, nay!” said Hal. “That would have been transgression.”
“–They build a catafalque here, black and tall,
Perhaps,” mused Richard, “for some funeral?”
And Anne chimed in: “Ah, yes: it maybe so!”
“Nay!” squeaked Eliza. “Little you seem to know –
“Clearly ’tis for some crowning here in state,
As they crowned us at our long bygone date;
“Though we’d no such a power of carpentry,
But let the ancient architecture be;
“If I were up there where the parsons sit,
In one of my gold robes, I’d see to it!”
“But you are not,” Charles chuckled. “You are here,
And never will know the sun again, my dear!”
“Yea,” whispered those whom no one had addressed;
“With slow, sad march, amid a folk distressed,
We were brought here, to take our dusty rest.
“And here, alas, in darkness laid below,
We’ll wait and listen, and endure the show . . .
Clamour dogs kingship; afterwards not so!”