Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
 
Funeral Ode on the Death of the Princess Charlotte
By Robert Southey (1774–1843)
 
IN its summer pride array’d,
Low our Tree of Hope is laid!
Low it lies:.. in evil hour,
Visiting the bridal bower,
Death hath levell’d root and flower.        5
Windsor, in thy sacred shade,
(This the end of pomp and power!)
Have the rites of death been paid:
Windsor, in thy sacred shade
Is the Flower of Brunswick laid!        10
 
  Ye whose relics rest around,
Tenants of this funeral ground!
Know ye, Spirits, who is come,
By immitigable doom
Summon’d to the untimely tomb?        15
Late with youth and splendour crown’d,
Late in beauty’s vernal bloom,
Late with love and joyaunce blest;
Never more lamented guest
Was in Windsor laid to rest.        20
 
  Henry, thou of saintly worth,
Thou, to whom thy Windsor gave
Nativity and name, and grave;
Thou art in this hallowed earth
Cradled for the immortal birth!        25
Heavily upon his head
Ancestral crimes were visited:
He, in spirit like a child,
Meek of heart and undefiled,
Patiently his crown resign’d,        30
And fix’d on heaven his heavenly mind,
Blessing, while he kiss’d the rod,
His Redeemer and his God.
Now may he in realms of bliss
Greet a soul as pure as his.        35
 
  Passive as that humble spirit,
Lies his bold dethroner too;
A dreadful debt did he inherit
To his injured lineage due;
Ill-starr’d prince, whose martial merit        40
His own England long might rue!
Mournful was that Edward’s fame,
Won in fields contested well,
While he sought his rightful claim:
Witness Aire’s unhappy water,        45
Where the ruthless Clifford fell;
And when Wharfe ran red with slaughter,
On the day of Towton’s field,
Gathering, in its guilty flood,
The carnage and the ill-spilt blood        50
That forty thousand lives could yield.
Cressy was to this but sport,—
Poictiers but a pageant vain;
And the victory of Spain
Seem’d a strife for pastime meant,        55
And the work of Agincourt
Only like a tournament;
Half the blood which there was spent
Had sufficed again to gain
Anjou and ill-yielded Maine,        60
Normandy and Aquitaine;
And Our Lady’s Ancient towers,
Maugre all the Valois’ powers,
Had a second time been ours.—
A gentle daughter of thy line,        65
Edward, lays her dust with thine.
 
  Thou, Elizabeth, art here;
Thou to whom all griefs were known;
Who wert placed upon the bier
In happier hour than on the throne.        70
Fatal daughter, fatal mother,
Raised to that ill-omen’d station,
Father, uncle, sons, and brother,
Mourn’d in blood her elevation!
Woodville, in the realms of bliss,        75
To thine offspring thou may’st say,
Early death is happiness;
And favour’d in their lot are they
Who are not left to learn below
That length of life is length of woe.        80
Lightly let this ground be prest;
A broken heart is here at rest.
 
  But thou, Seymour, with a greeting,
Such as sisters use at meeting,
Joy, and sympathy, and love,        85
Wilt hail her in the seats above.
Like in loveliness were ye,
By a like lamented doom,
Hurried to an early tomb.
While together, spirits blest,        90
Here your earthly relics rest,
Fellow angels shall ye be
In the angelic company.
 
  Henry, too, hath here his part;
At the gentle Seymour’s side,        95
With his best beloved bride,
Cold and quiet, here are laid
The ashes of that fiery heart.
Not with his tyrannic spirit
Shall our Charlotte’s soul inherit;        100
No, by Fisher’s hoary head,—
By More, the learned and the good,—
By Katharine’s wrongs and Boleyn’s blood,—
By the life so basely shed
Of the pride of Norfolk’s line,        105
By the axe so often red,
By the fire with martyrs fed,
Hateful Henry, not with thee
May her happy spirit be!
 
  And here lies one whose tragic name        110
A reverential thought may claim;
That murder’d Monarch, whom the grave,
Revealing its long secret, gave
Again to sight, that we might spy
His comely face and waking eye!        115
There, thrice fifty years, it lay,
Exempt from natural decay,
Unclosed and bright, as if to say,
A plague, of bloodier, baser birth,
Than that beneath whose rage he bled,        120
Was loose upon our guilty earth;—
Such aweful warning from the dead,
Was given by that portentous eye;
Then it closed eternally.
 
  Ye whose relics rest around,        125
Tenants of this funeral ground;
Even in your immortal spheres,
What fresh yearnings will ye feel,
When this earthly guest appears!
Us she leaves in grief and tears;        130
But to you will she reveal
Tidings of old England’s weal;
Of a righteous war pursued,
Long, through evil and through good,
With unshaken fortitude;        135
Of peace, in battle twice achieved;
Of her fiercest foe subdued,
And Europe from the yoke reliev’d,
Upon that Brabantine plain!
Such the proud, the virtuous story,        140
Such the great, the endless glory
Of her father’s splendid reign!
He who wore the sable mail,
Might at this heroic tale,
Wish himself on earth again.        145
 
  One who reverently, for thee,
Raised the strain of bridal verse,
Flower of Brunswick! mournfully
Lays a garland on thy herse.
 
 
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