Walter James Redfern Turner


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In low chalk hills the great King's body lay
And bright streams fell, tinkling like polished tin,
As though they carried off his armoury,
And spread it glinting through his wide domain.

Old bearded soldiers sat and gazed dim-eyed
At the strange brightness flowing under trees,
And saw his sword flashing in ancient battles,
And drank, and swore, and trembled helplessly.

And bright-haired maidens dipped their cold white arms,
And drew them glittering colder, whiter, still;
The sky sparkled like the dead King's blue eye
Upon the sentries that were dead as trees.

His shining shield lay in an old grey town,
And white swans sailed so still and dreamfully,
They seemed the thoughts of those white, peaceful hills
Mirrored that day within his glazing eyes.

And in the square the pale cool butter sold,
Cropped from the daisies sprinkled on the downs,
And old wives cried their wares, like queer day owls,
Piercing the old men's sad and foolish dreams.

And Time flowed on till all the realm forgot
The great King lying on the low chalk hills;
Only the busy water dripping through
His hard white bones knew of him lying there.

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Walter James Redfern Turner