Edmund Clarence Stedman

1833-1908

 

The Duke's Exequy

by Edmund Clarence Stedman

Arras, A. D. 1404.

Clothed in sable, crowned with gold,
All his wars and councils ended,
Philip lay, surnamed The Bold:
Passing-bell his quittance tolled,
And the chant of priests ascended.

Mailéd knights and archers stand,
Thronging in the church of Arras;
Nevermore at his command
Shall they scour the Netherland,
Nevermore the outlaws harass;

Naught is left of his array
Save a barren territory;
Forty years of generous sway
Sped his princely hoards away,
Bartered all his gold for glory.

Forth steps Flemish Margaret then,
Striding toward the silent ashes;
And the eyes of arméd men
Fill with startled wonder, when
On the bier her girdle clashes!

Swift she drew it from her waist,
And the purse and keys it carried
On the ducal coffin placed;
Then with proud demeanor faced
Sword and shield of him she married.

No encumbrance of the dead
Must the living clog forever;
From thy debts and dues,
she said,
From the liens of thy bed,
We this day our line dissever.

From thy hand we gain release,
Know all present by this token!
Let the dead repose in peace,
Let the claims upon us cease
When the ties that bound are broken.

Philip, we have loved thee long,
But, in years of future splendor,
Burgundy shall count among
Bravest deeds of tale and song
This, our widowhood's surrender.

Back the stately Duchess turned,
While the priests and friars chanted,
And the swinging incense burned:
Thus by feudal rite was earned
Greatness for a race undaunted.

Source:

The Blameless Prince, And Other Poems
Copyright 1869
Fields, Osgood, and Co., Boston
 
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