Ave, Caesar!

A poem by R. C. Lehmann

(MAY 20, 1910)

Full in the splendour of this morning hour,
With tramp of men and roll of muffled drums,
In what a pomp and pageantry of power,
Borne to his grave, our lord, King EDWARD, comes!

In flashing gold and high magnificence,
Lo, the proud cavalcade of comrade Kings,
Met here to do the dead KING reverence,
Its solemn tribute of affection brings.

Heralds and Pursuivants and Men-at-arms,
Sultan and Paladin and Potentate,
Scarred Captains who have baffled war's alarms
And Courtiers glittering in their robes of state,

All in their blazoned ranks, with eyes cast down,
Slow pacing in their sorrow pass along
Where that which bore the sceptre and the crown
Cleaves at their head the silence of the throng.

And in a space behind the passing bier,
Looking and longing for his lord in vain,
A little playmate whom the KING held dear,
Caesar, the terrier, tugs his silver chain!

* * * * *

Hail, Caesar, lonely little Caesar, hail!
Little for you the gathered Kings avail.
Little you reck, as meekly past you go,
Of that solemnity of formal woe.
In the strange silence, lo, you prick your ear
For one loved voice, and that you shall not hear.
So when the monarchs with their bright array
Of gold and steel and stars have passed away,
When, to their wonted use restored again,
All things go duly in their ordered train,
You shall appeal at each excluding door,
Search through the rooms and every haunt explore;
From lawn to lawn, from path to path pursue
The well-loved form that still escapes your view.
At every tree some happy memories rise
To stir your tail and animate your eyes,
And at each turn, with gathering strength endued,
Hope, still frustrated, must be still renewed.
How should you rest from your appointed task
Till chance restore the happiness you ask,
Take from your heart the burden, ease your pain,
And grant you to your master's side again,
Proud and content if but you could beguile
His voice to flatter and his face to smile?

Caesar, the kindly days may bring relief;
Swiftly they pass and dull the edge of grief.
You too, resigned at last, may school your mind
To miss the comrade whom you cannot find,
Never forgetting, but as one who feels
The world has secrets which no skill reveals.
Henceforth, whate'er the ruthless fates may give,
You shall be loved and cherished while you live.
Reft of your master, little dog forlorn,
To one dear mistress you shall now be sworn,
And in her queenly service you shall dwell,
At rest with one who loved your master well.
And she, that gentle lady, shall control
The faithful kingdom of a true dog's soul,
And for the past's dear sake shall still defend
Caesar, the dead KING'S humble little friend.

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