Bayard Taylor image

Bayard Taylor

Jan. 11, 1825 - Dec 19, 1878

 

Porphyrogenitus

by Bayard Taylor

I.

Born in the purple! born in the purple!
Heir to the sceptre and crown!
Lord over millions and millions of vassals, --
Monarch of mighty renown!
Where, do you ask, are my banner-proud castles?
Where my imperial town?

II.

Where are the ranks of my far-flashing lances, --
Trumpets, courageous of sound, --
Galloping squadrons and rocking armadas,
Guarding my kingdom around?
Where are the pillars that blazon my borders,
Threatening the alien ground?

III.

Vainly you ask, if you wear not the purple,
Sceptre and diadem own;
Ruling, yourself, over prosperous regions,
Seated supreme on your throne.
Subjects have nothing to give but allegiance:
Monarchs meet monarchs alone.

IV.

But, if a king, you shall stand on my ramparts,
Look on the lands that I sway,
Number the domes of magnificent cities,
Shining in valleys away, --
Number the mountains whose foreheads are golden,
Lakes that are azure with day.

V.

Whence I inherited such a dominion?
What was my forefathers' line?
Homer and Sophocles, Pindar and Sappho,
First were anointed divine:
Theirs were the realms that a god might have governed,
Ah, and how little is mine!

VI.

Hafiz in Orient shared with Petrarca
Thrones of the East and the West;
Shakespeare succeeded to limitless empire,
Greatest of monarchs, and best:
Few of his children inherited kingdoms,
Provinces only, the rest.

VII.

Keats has his vineyards, and Shelley his islands;
Coleridge in Xanadu reigns;
Wordsworth is eyried aloft on the mountains,
Goethe has mountains and plains;
Yet, though the world has been parcelled among them,
A world to be parcelled remains.

VIII.

Blessing enough to be born in the purple,
Though but a monarch in name, --
Though in the desert my palace is builded,
Far from the highways of Fame:
Up with my standards! salute me with trumpets!
Crown me with regal acclaim!

Source:

The Poet's Journal
Copyright 1863
Ticknor and Fields, Boston
 
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