During National Poetry Month I’ve been thinking about various types of poems and the history of poetry in the English language. So many poets have enriched our world by their verses, and I’m trying to pay them a little tribute this month.
You may be familiar with the poem, Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!) who told the angel that he loved his fellow-men. The following poem, which also tells an interesting tale, was penned by the same writer. I’ve smoothed out a few spots to make it easier reading.
The Glove And The Lions
by English poet Leigh Hunt
1784 – 1859
King Francis was a hearty king and loved a royal sport,
and one day, as his lions fought, sat looking on the court.
The nobles filled the benches, with the ladies in their pride—
amongst them sat the Count de Lorge with one for whom he sighed—
and truly ’twas a gallant thing to see that crowning show:
valor and love, and a king above, and the royal beasts below.
Ramped and roared the lions, with horrid laughing jaws
they bit, they glared, gave blows like beams, a wind went with their paws.
With wallowing might and stifled roar they rolled on one another
’til all the pit with sand and mane was in a thunderous smother.
The bloody foam above the bars came whisking through the air;
said Francis then, “Faith, gentlemen, we’re better here than there.”
De Lorge’s love o’erheard the King, a beauteous lively dame
with smiling lips and sharp bright eyes, which always seemed the same.
She thought, The Count, my lover, is brave as brave can be;
he surely would do wondrous things to show his love of me.
King, ladies, lovers, all look on; the occasion is divine;
I’ll drop my glove, to prove his love; great glory will be mine.
She dropped her glove, to prove his love, then looked at him and smiled;
he bowed, and in a moment leaped among the lions wild.
The leap was quick, return was quick; he had regained his place,
then threw the glove, but not with love, right in the lady’s face.
“By heaven,” said Francis, “rightly done!” and rose from where he sat.
“No love,” quoth he, “but vanity, sets love a task like that.”
Disclaimer: I deplore violent so-called sport, especially when it involves cruelty to animals. I found that part disgusting, but it couldn’t be omitted.