new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

The Conquerors And Other Poems

Richard was captive too. The grey flags straining
Stiff in the wind against the prisoner’s tower
Brought little to him of his splendid hour —
Of conquests crushed like fruits, love’s mellow gaining,
The Sepulchre nigh won, he not the least
Of kings who sat at that victorious feast.
Now he might watch the bars, with heavy eye,
And drink his fill of glory well gone by.

Yet lesser men went free, and snapped their fingers,
Or held their thrones, being not overborne . . .
Whilst a grey conqueror sat and dreamed forlorn
Of honour that seemed far, of shame that lingers,
And old age soon, like snow, to cover all . . .
Prince Saladin had drawn him from that brawl
To call him brother, friend, lord of blue steel,
’Fore whom the white Arabian beasts should kneel.
Well, beasts are caged; old ships that dared the deep
Are taken to the hulks, before they sleep.


Last updated 11 September, 2003