Chant Royal Of High Virtue

A poem by Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

Who lives in suit of armour pent
And hides himself behind a wall,
For him is not the great event,
The garland nor the Capitol.
And is God's guerdon less than they?
Nay, moral man, I tell thee Nay:
Nor shall the flaming forts be won
By sneaking negatives alone,
By Lenten fast or Ramazàn;
But by the challenge proudly thrown--
Virtue is that becrowns a Man!

God, in His Palace resident
Of Bliss, beheld our sinful ball,
And charged His own Son innocent
Us to redeem from Adam's fall.

"Yet must it be that men Thee slay."
"Yea, tho' it must, must I obey,"
Said Christ; and came, His royal Son,
To die, and dying to atone
For harlot, thief, and publican.
Read on that rood He died upon--
Virtue is that becrowns a Man!

Beneath that rood where He was bent
I saw the world's great captains all
Pass riding home from tournament
Adown the road from Roncesvalles--
Lord Charlemagne, in one array
Lords Caesar, Cyrus, Attila,
Lord Alisaundre of Macedon ...
With flame on lance and habergeon
They passed, and to the rataplan
Of drums gave salutation--
"Virtue is that becrowns a Man!"
Had tall Achilles lounged in tent
For aye, and Xanthus neigh'd in stall,
The towers of Troy had ne'er been shent,
Nor stay'd the dance in Priam's hall.
Bend o'er thy book till thou be grey,
Read, mark, perpend, digest, survey,
Instruct thee deep as Solomon,
One only chapter thou canst con,
One lesson learn, one sentence scan,
One title and one colophon--
Virtue is that becrowns a Man!

High Virtue's best is eloquent
With spur and not with martingall:
Swear not to her thou'rt continent:
BE COURTEOUS, BRAVE, AND LIBERAL.
God fashion'd thee of chosen clay
For service, nor did ever say,
"Deny thee this," "Abstain from yon,"
But to inure thee, thew and bone.
To be confirmèd of the clan
That made immortal Marathon--
Virtue is that becrowns a Man!


ENVOY


Young Knight, the lists are set to-day!
Hereafter shall be time to pray
In sepulture, with hands of stone.
Ride, then! outride the bugle blown!
And gaily dinging down the van,
Charge with a cheer--"Set on! Set on!
Virtue is that becrowns a Man!"

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