George Meredith

John Lackland

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A wicked man is bad enough on earth;
But O the baleful lustre of a chief
Once pledged in tyranny! O star of dearth
Darkly illumining a nation's grief!
How many men have worn thee on their brows!
Alas for them and us! God's precious gift
Of gracious dispensation got by theft -
The damning form of false unholy vows!
The thief of God and man must have his fee:
And thou, John Lackland, despicable prince -
Basest of England's banes before or since!
Thrice traitor, coward, thief! O thou shalt be
The historic warning, trampled and abhorr'd
Who dared to steal and stain the symbols of the Lord!

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George Meredith