Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
An Ironic Requiem
By Thomas Hood (1799–1845)
From ‘A Lament for the Decline of Chivalry’

WELL hast thou said, departed Burke,—
All chivalrous romantic work
      Is ended now and past!
That iron age, which some have thought
Of mettle rather overwrought,        5
      Is now all over-cast.
Ay! where are those heroic knights
Of old—those armadillo wights
      Who wore the plated vest?
Great Charlemagne and all his peers        10
Are cold—enjoying with their spears
      An everlasting rest.
The bold King Arthur sleepeth sound;
So sleep his knights who gave that Round
      Old Table such éclat!        15
Oh, Time has plucked the plumy brow!
And none engage at turneys now
      But those that go to law!…
Where are those old and feudal clans,
Their pikes, and bills, and partisans;        20
      Their hauberks, jerkins, buffs?
A battle was a battle then,
A breathing piece of work; but men
      Fight now with powder puffs!
The curtal-axe is out of date!        25
The good old cross-bow bends to Fate;
      ’Tis gone, the archer’s craft!
No tough arm bends the springing yew,
And jolly draymen ride, in lieu
      Of Death, upon the shaft….        30
In cavils when will cavaliers
Set ringing helmets by the ears,
      And scatter plumes about?
Or blood—if they are in the vein?
That tap will never run again—        35
      Alas, the casque is out!
No iron crackling now is scored
By dint of battle-axe or sword,
      To find a vital place;
Though certain doctors still pretend,        40
Awhile, before they kill a friend,
      To labor through his case!
Farewell, then, ancient men of might
Crusader, errant squire, and knight!
      Our coats and customs soften;        45
To rise would only make you weep:
Sleep on in rusty iron, sleep
      As in a safety coffin!

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