The Last Rhyme Of True Thomas



The King has called for priest and cup,
 The King has taken spur and blade
To dub True Thomas a belted knight,
 And all for the sake o' the songs he made.
 
They have sought him high, they have sought him low,
 They have sought him over down and lea;
They have found him by the milk-white thorn
 That guards the gates o' Faerie.
 
     'Twas bent beneath and blue above,
      Their eyes were held that they might not see
     The kine that grazed beneath the knowes,
      Oh, they were the Queens o' Faerie!
 
"Now cease your song," the King he said,
 "Oh, cease your song and get you dight
To vow your vow and watch your arms,
 For I will dub you a belted knight.
 
"For I will give you a horse o' pride,
 Wi' blazon and spur and page and squire;
Wi' keep and tail and seizin and law,
 And land to hold at your desire."
 
True Thomas smiled above his harp,
 And turned his face to the naked sky,
Where, blown before the wastrel wind,
 The thistle-down she floated by.
 
"I ha' vowed my vow in another place,
 And bitter oath it was on me,
I ha' watched my arms the lee-long night,
 Where five-score fighting men would flee.
 
"My lance is tipped o' the hammered flame,
 My shield is beat o' the moonlight cold;
And I won my spurs in the Middle World,
 A thousand fathom beneath the mould.
 
"And what should I make wi' a horse o' pride,
 And what should I make wi' a sword so brown,
But spill the rings o' the Gentle Folk
 And flyte my kin in the Fairy Town?
 
"And what should I make wi' blazon and belt,
 Wi' keep and tail and seizin and fee,
And what should I do wi' page and squire
 That am a king in my own countrie?
 
"For I send east and I send west,
 And I send far as my will may flee,
By dawn and dusk and the drinking rain,
 And syne my Sendings return to me.
 
"They come wi' news of the groanin' earth,
 They come wi' news o' the roarin' sea,
Wi' word of Spirit and Ghost and Flesh,
 And man, that's mazed among the three."
 
The King he bit his nether lip,
 And smote his hand upon his knee:
"By the faith o' my soul, True Thomas," he said,
 "Ye waste no wit in courtesie!
 
"As I desire, unto my pride,
 Can I make Earls by three and three,
To run before and ride behind
 And serve the sons o' my body."
 
"And what care I for your row-foot earls,
 Or all the sons o' your body?
Before they win to the Pride o' Name,
 I trow they all ask leave o' me.
 
"For I make Honour wi' muckle mouth,
 As I make Shame wi' mincin' feet,
To sing wi' the priests at the market-cross,
 Or run wi' the dogs in the naked street.
 
"And some they give me the good red gold,
 And some they give me the white money,
And some they give me a clout o' meal,
 For they be people o' low degree.
 
"And the song I sing for the counted gold
 The same I sing for the white money,
But best I sing for the clout o' meal
 That simple people given me."
 
The King cast down a silver groat,
 A silver groat o' Scots money,
"If I come wi' a poor man's dole," he said,
 "True Thomas, will ye harp to me?"
 
"Whenas I harp to the children small,
 They press me close on either hand.
And who are you," True Thomas said,
 "That you should ride while they must stand?
 
"Light down, light down from your horse o' pride,
 I trow ye talk too loud and hie,
And I will make you a triple word,
 And syne, if ye dare, ye shall 'noble me."
 
He has lighted down from his horse o' pride,
 And set his back against the stone.
"Now guard you well," True Thomas said,
 "Ere I rax your heart from your breast-bone!"
 
True Thomas played upon his harp,
 The fairy harp that couldna lee,
And the first least word the proud King heard,
 It harpit the salt tear out o' his ee.
 
"Oh, I see the love that I lost long syne,
 I touch the hope that I may not see,
And all that I did o' hidden shame,
 Like little snakes they hiss at me.
 
"The sun is lost at noon -- at noon!
 The dread o' doom has grippit me.
True Thomas, hide me under your cloak,
 God wot, I'm little fit to dee!"
 
     'Twas bent beneath and blue above --
      'Twas open field and running flood --
     Where, hot on heath and dike and wall,
      The high sun warmed the adder's brood.
 
"Lie down, lie down," True T
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on April 30, 2023

4:04 min read
111

Quick analysis:

Scheme xaba xcde Fcge hagb iexe jklk gcbc mnxn iopo xcee xcxc xcxc xchg iclc gcmc xqgq ncrc ncrc xchc stht ixuc ivhv jcuc dcmc xcpc Fxsx c
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 4,020
Words 825
Stanzas 27
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 1

Rudyard Kipling

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist chiefly remembered for his tales and poems of British soldiers in India and his tales for children. more…

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