Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
A Royal Lamentation
By King Charles I. (1600–1649)
GREAT 1 Monarch of the world, from whose power springs
The potency and power of earthly kings,
Record the royal woe my suffering sings.
Nature and law by thy divine decree
(The only root of righteous royalty),        5
With this dim diadem invested me:
With it the sacred sceptre, purple robe,
The holy unction, and the royal globe;
Yet am I levelled with the life of Job.
The fiercest furies, that do daily tread        10
Upon my grief, my grey discrownèd head,
Are they that owe my bounty for their bread.
With my own power my majesty they wound,
In the King’s name the King’s himself uncrowned;
So doth the dust destroy the diamond.        15
They promise to erect my royal stem,
To make me great, t’ advance my diadem,
If I will first fall down, and worship them.
My life they prize at such a slender rate,
That in my absence they draw bills of hate,        20
To prove the King a traitor to the State.
Felons obtain more privilege than I;
They are allowed to answer ere they die:
’Tis death for me to ask the reason why.
But, sacred Saviour, with thy words I woo        25
Thee to forgive, and not be bitter to
Such as Thou know’st do not know what they do.
Augment my patience, nullify my hate,
Preserve my issue, and inspire my mate;
Yet, though we perish, bless this Church and State.        30
Note 1. These verses were printed by Bishop Burnet in the Memoirs of the Lives and Actions of James and William, Dukes of Hamilton and Castle-Herald, 1673, p. 483. In vouching for the authenticity of the verses Burnet says: “I shall therefor insert a copy of verses written by his majesty in his captivity, which a very worthy gentleman, who had the honor of waiting on him then, and was much trusted by him, copied out from the original, who avoucheth it to be a true copy.” The poem as printed by Bishop Burnet is of unequal merit, and I have chosen to follow Archbishop Trench in omitting several stanzas. [back]

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