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King Cole by John Masefield

KING COLE

_By_

JOHN MASEFIELD

Rosas Gallipoli Right Royal The Faithful Selected Poems Lost Endeavour A Mainsail Haul Captain Magaret Reynard the Fox The Daffodil Fields The Old Front Line Multitude and Solitude Collected Poems and Plays Salt Water Poems and Ballads Good Friday and Other Poems The Tragedy of Pompey the Great Philip the King and Other Poems The Tragedy of Nan and Other Poems Lollingdon Downs and Other Poems The Story of a Round-House and Other Poems The Locked Chest; and The Sweeps of Ninety-eight The Everlasting Mercy and the Widow in the Bye Street

KING COLE

BY

JOHN MASEFIELD

WITH DRAWINGS IN BLACK AND WHITE

BY

JUDITH MASEFIELD

New York

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

1921

_All rights reserved_

COPYRIGHT, 1921,

BY JOHN MASEFIELD.

Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1921.

_To_

MY WIFE

KING COLE

[Illustration]

King Cole was King before the troubles came, The land was happy while he held the helm, The valley-land from Condicote to Thame, Watered by Thames and green with many an elm. For many a year he governed well his realm, So well-beloved, that, when at last he died, It was bereavement to the countryside.

So good, so well-beloved, had he been In life, that when he reached the judging-place (There where the scales are even, the sword keen), The Acquitting Judges granted him a grace, Aught he might choose, red, black, from king to ace, Beneath the bright arch of the heaven's span; He chose, to wander earth, the friend of man.

So, since that time, he wanders shore and shire, An old, poor, wandering man, with glittering eyes Helping distressful folk to their desire By power of spirit that within him lies. Gentle he is, and quiet, and most wise, He wears a ragged grey, he sings sweet words, And where he walks there flutter little birds.

And when the planets glow as dusk begins He pipes a wooden flute to music old. Men hear him on the downs, in lonely inns, In valley woods, or up the Chiltern wold; His piping feeds the starved and warms the cold, It gives the beaten courage; to the lost It brings back faith, that lodestar of the ghost.

And most he haunts the beech-tree-pasturing chalk, The Downs and Chilterns with the Thames between. There still the Berkshire shepherds see him walk, Searching the unhelped woe with instinct keen, His old hat stuck with never-withering green, His flute in poke, and little singings sweet Coming from birds that flutter at his feet.


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