Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
A Ballade of Playing Cards
Gleeson White (b. 185–)
TO soothe a mad King’s fevered brain
  (So runs the legend), cards were made,
When Gringonneur for Charles insane
  “Diversely colored” heart and spade,
  Diamond and club, the painted jade,        5
The light-heeled Jack, and beckoning
  Called, to their royal cousin’s aid,
Puppets of knave, and queen, and king.
Grim fancy! that the playful train,
  The quaint, grimacing cavalcade,        10
Should wreck such ills where they obtain
  The victims to their sorry trade,
  The player cozened by the played;
Pasteboards supreme; to this they bring
  Both gallant buck and roystering blade,        15
Puppets of knave, and queen, and king.
From reckless play, what noble gain?
  One friend hard hit, the rest afraid
To show their pleasure at his pain,
  Such sympathy might well persuade        20
  The cards in garish heaps displayed
To join, with impish revelling,
  And jeer as all his fortunes fade—
Puppets of knave, and queen, and king.

Prince! after all, they are the shade,
  The type of every earthly thing,
And we, through all life’s masquerade,
  Puppets of knave, and queen, and king.


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