(0.00 / 0 votes) “
The second time I lived on earth
Was several hundred years ago;
And—royal by my second birth—
I know as much as most men know.
I was a king who held the reins
As never modern monarch can;
I was a king, and I had brains,
And, what was more, I was a man!
Called to the throne in stormy times,
When things were at their very worst,
I had to fight—and not with rhymes—
My own self and my kindred first;
And after that my friends and foes,
And great abuses born of greed;
And when I’d fairly conquered those,
I ruled the land a king indeed.
I found a deal of rottenness,
Such as in modern towns we find;
I camped my poor in palaces
And tents upon the plain behind.
I marked the hovels, dens and drums
In that fair city by the sea.
And burnt the miles of wretched slums
And built the homes as they should be.
I stripped the baubles from the State,
And on the land I spent the spoil;
I hunted off the sullen great,
And to the farmers gave the soil.
My people were their own police;
My courts were free to everyone.
My priests were to preach love and peace;
My Judges to see justice done.
I’d studied men and studied kings,
No crawling cant would I allow;
I hated mean and paltry things,
As I can hate them even now.
A land of men I meant to see,
A strong and clean and noble race—
No subject dared kneel down to me,
But looked his king straight in the face
Had I not been a king in fact,
A king in council-hall and tent,
I might have let them crawl and act
The courtier to their heart’s content;
But when I called on other kings,
And saw men kneel, I felt inclined
To gently tip the abject things
And kick them very hard behind.
My subjects were not slaves, I guess,
But though the women in one thing—
A question ’twas of healthy dress—
Would dare to argue with their king
(I had to give in there, I own,
Though none denied that I was strong),
Yet they would hear my telephone
If anything went very wrong.
I also had some poets bright—
Their songs were grand, I will allow—
They were, if I remember right,
About as bad as bards are now.
I had to give them best at last,
And let them booze and let them sing;
As it is now, so in the past,
They’d small respect for gods or king.
I loved to wander through the streets—
I carried neither sword nor dirk—
And watch the building of my fleets,
And watch my artisans at work.
At times I would take off my coat
And show them how to do a thing—
Till someone, clucking in his throat,
Would stare and gasp, ‘It is the king!’
And I would say, ‘Shut up, you fools!
Is it for this my towns I burn?
You don’t know how to handle tools,
And by my faith you’ll have to learn!’
I was a king, but what of that?
A king may warble in the spring
And carry eggs home in his hat,
Provided that he is a king.
I loved to stroll about the town
With chums at night, and talk of things,
And, though I chanced to wear the crown,
My friends, by intellect, were kings.
When I was doubtful, then I might
Discuss a matter quietly,
But when I felt that I was right
No power on earth could alter me!
And now and then it was no sin
Nor folly to relax a bit—
I’d take my friends into an inn
And call for wine and pay for it.
And then of many things we’d clack
With loosened tongues and visions clear—
I often heard behind my back
The whispered ‘Peace, the king is here!’
The women harped about a queen,
I knew they longed to have a court
And flaunt their feathers on the scene,
But hitherto I’d held the fort.
My subjects wanted me, no doubt,
To give the throne a son and heir—
(There were some little kings about,
But that was neither here nor there).
I’d no occasion for a wife—
A queen as yet was not my plan;
I’d seen a lot of married life—
My sire had been a married man.
‘A son and heir be hanged!’ I said—
‘How dare you ask for such a thing,
‘You fight it out when I am dead
‘And let the best man be the king!’
‘Your Majesty, we love you well!’
A candid friend would say to me—
‘But there be tales that people tell
‘Unfitted to thy dignity’—
‘My dignity be damned!’ I’d say,
‘Bring me no women’s chattering!
‘I’ll be a man while yet I may—
‘When trouble comes I’ll be a king!
I’d kept my kingdom clean and strong
While other kingdoms were like ours—
I had no need to brook a wrong,
I feared not all the rotten Powers
I did not eat my heart out then,
Nor feebly fight
Discuss this Henry Lawson poem with the community:
Find a translation for this poem in other languages:
Select another language:
- - Select -
- 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
- 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
- Español (Spanish)
- Esperanto (Esperanto)
- 日本語 (Japanese)
- Português (Portuguese)
- Deutsch (German)
- العربية (Arabic)
- Français (French)
- Русский (Russian)
- ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
- 한국어 (Korean)
- עברית (Hebrew)
- Gaeilge (Irish)
- Українська (Ukrainian)
- اردو (Urdu)
- Magyar (Hungarian)
- मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
- Indonesia (Indonesian)
- Italiano (Italian)
- தமிழ் (Tamil)
- Türkçe (Turkish)
- తెలుగు (Telugu)
- ภาษาไทย (Thai)
- Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
- Čeština (Czech)
- Polski (Polish)
- Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
- Românește (Romanian)
- Nederlands (Dutch)
- Ελληνικά (Greek)
- Latinum (Latin)
- Svenska (Swedish)
- Dansk (Danish)
- Suomi (Finnish)
- فارسی (Persian)
- ייִדיש (Yiddish)
- հայերեն (Armenian)
- Norsk (Norwegian)
- English (English)