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Solemnities of silence, and soft glooms,
Inspire due reverence around royal tombs.
So, in the great Cathedral, grand, he lay.

The Duke had gain'd his Dukedom in this way:
Once, on a winter night, . . . these things were written
Four centuries ago, when men, frost-bitten,
Blew on their nails, and curst, to warm their blood,
The times, the taxes, and what else they could . . . .
A hungry, bleak night sky, with frosty fires
Hung hard, and clipt with cold the chilly spires,
Bent, for some hateful purpose of its own,
To keep sharp watch upon the little town,
Which huddled in its shadow, as if there
'Twas safest, trying to look unaware;
Earth gave it no assistance, and small cheer
('Neath that sharp sky, resolved to interfere
For its affliction), but lockt up her hand,
Stared fiercely on man's need, and his command
Rejected, cold as kindness when it cools,
Or charity in some men's souls. The pools
And water-courses had become dead streaks
Of steely ice. The rushes in the creeks
Stood stiff as iron spikes. The sleety breeze
Itself had died for lack of aught to tease
On the gaunt oaks, or pine-trees numb'd and stark.
All fires were out, and every casement dark
Along the flinty streets. A famisht mouse,
Going his rounds in some old dismal house,
Disconsolate (for since the last new tax
The mice began to gnaw each other's backs),
Seem'd the sole creature stirring; save, perchance
(With steel glove slowly freezing to his lance),
A sullen watchman, half asleep, who stept
About the turret where the old Duke slept.

The young Duke, whom a waking thought, not new,
Had held from sleeping, the last night or two,
Consider'd he should sleep the better there,
Provided that the old Duke slept elsewhere.
Therefore, . . . . about four hundred years ago,
This point was settled by the young Duke so, . . . .
Adolfus (the last Duke of Egmont's race
Who reign'd in Guelders, after whom the place
Lapsed into the Burgundian line) put on
His surcoat, buckled fast his habergeon,
Went clinking up that turret stairway, came
To the turret chamber, whose dim taper flame
The gust that enter'd with him soon smote dead,
And found his father, sleeping in his bed
As sound as, just four hundred years ago,
Good Dukes and Kings were wont to sleep, you know.

A meagre moon, malignant as could be,
Meanwhile made stealthy light enough to see
The way by to the bedside, and put out
A hand, too eager long to grope about
For what it sought. A moment after that,
The old Duke, wide awake and shuddering, sat
Stark upright in the moon; his thin grey hair
Pluckt out by handfuls; and that stony stare,
The seal which terror fixes on surprise,
Widening within the white and filmy eyes
With which the ghastly father gazed upon
Strange meanings in the grim face of the son.

The young Duke haled the old Duke by the hair
Thus, in his nightgear, down the turret stair;
And made him trot, barefooted, on before
Himself, who rode a horseback, thro' the frore
And aching midnight, over frozen wold,
And icy meer, . . . . (that winter, you might hold
A hundred fairs, and roast a hundred sheep,
If you could find them, on the ice, so deep
The frost had fixt his floors on driven piles), . . . .
From Grave to Buren, five and twenty miles.
There in a dungeon, where newts dwell, beneath
The tower of Buren Castle, until death
Took him, he linger'd very miserably;
Some say for months; some, years. Tho' Burgundy
Summon'd both son and father to appear
Before him, ere the end of that same year,
And sought to settle, after mild rebuke,
Some sort of compromise between the Duke
And the Duke's father. But it fail'd.
                                                              This way
The Duke had gain'd his Dukedom.
                                                          At Tournay,
Afterwards, in the foray on that town,
He fell; and, being a man of much renown,
And very noble, with befitting state,
Was royally interr'd within the great
Cathedral. There, with work of costly stones
And curious craft, above his ducal bones
They builded a fair tomb. And over him
A hundred priests chanted the holy hymn.
Which being ended, . . . . "Our archbishop" (says
A chronicler, writing about those days)
"Held a most sweet discourse." . . . . And so the psalm,
And silver organ ceasing, in his calm
And costly tomb they left him; with his face,
Turn'd ever upward to the altar-place,
Smiling in marble from the shrine below.

These things were done four hundred years ago,
Adolfus, Duke of Guelders, in this way
First having gain'd his Dukedom, as I say.
After which time, the great Duke Charles the Bold
Laid hold on Guelders, and kept fast his hold.
Times change: and with the times too change the men.
A hundred years have roll'd away since then.
I mean, since "Our archbishop" sweetly preach'd
His sermon on the dead Duke, unimpeach'd
Of flattery in the fluent phrase that just
Tinkled the tender moral o'er the dust
Of greatness, and with flowers of Latin strew'd
(To edify a reverent multitude)
The musty surface of the faded theme
"All flesh is grass: man's days are but a dream."
A bad dream, surely, sometimes: waking yet
Too late deferr'd! Such honours to upset,
Such wrongs to right, such far truths to attain,
Time, tho' he toils along the road amain,
Is still behindhand; never quite gets thro'
The long arrears of work he finds to do.
You call Time swift? it costs him centuries
To move the least of human miseries
Out of the path he treads. You call Time strong?
He does not dare to smite an obvious wrong
Aside, until 'tis worn too weak to stand
The faint dull pressure of his feeble hand.
The crazy wrong, and yet how safe it thrives!
The little lie, and yet how long it lives!
Meanwhile, I say, a hundred years have roll'd
O'er the Duke's memory. Now, again behold!

Late gleams of dwindled daylight, glad to go:
A sullen autumn evening, scowling low
On Tournay: a fierce sunset, dying down
In clots of crimson fire, reminds a town
Of starving, stormy people, how the glare
Sunk into eyes of agonised despair,
When placid pastors of the flock of Christ
Had finish'd roasting their last Calvinist.
A hot and lurid night is steaming up.
Like a foul film out of some witch's cup,