Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
By the Statue of King Charles at Charing Cross
By Lionel Johnson (1867–1902)
 
SOMBRE and rich, the skies,
Great glooms, and starry plains;
Gently the night wind sighs;
Else a vast silence reigns.
 
The splendid silence clings        5
Around me: and around
The saddest of all Kings,
Crown’d, and again discrown’d.
 
Comely and calm, he rides
Hard by his own Whitehall.        10
Only the night wind glides:
No crowds, nor rebels, brawl.
 
Gone, too, his Court: and yet,
The stars his courtiers are:
Stars in their stations set;        15
And every wandering star.
 
Alone he rides, alone,
The fair and fatal King:
Dark night is all his own,
That strange and solemn thing.        20
 
Which are more full of fate:
The stars; or those sad eyes?
Which are more still and great:
Those brows, or the dark skies?
 
Although his whole heart yearn        25
In passionate tragedy,
Never was face so stern
With sweet austerity.
 
Vanquish’d in life, his death
By beauty made amends:        30
The passing of his breath
Won his defeated ends.
 
Brief life, and hapless? Nay:
Through death, life grew sublime.
Speak after sentence? Yea:        35
And to the end of time.
 
Armour’d he rides, his head
Bare to the stars of doom;
He triumphs now, the dead,
Beholding London’s gloom.        40
 
Our wearier spirit faints,
Vex’d in the world’s employ:
His soul was of the saints;
And art to him was joy.
 
King, tried in fires of woe!        45
Men hunger for thy grace:
And through the night I go,
Loving thy mournful face.
 
Yet, when the city sleeps,
When all the cries are still,        50
The stars and heavenly deeps
Work out a perfect will.
 
 
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