Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


The Contrast

By Horace Smith (1779–1849)

Written under Windsor Terrace, the Day after the Funeral of George the Third

I SAW him last on this terrace proud,

Walking in health and gladness,

Begirt with his court; and in all the crowd

Not a single look of sadness.

Bright was the sun, and the leaves were green,

Blithely the birds were singing,

The cymbal replied to the tambourine,

And the bells were merrily ringing.

I have stood with the crowd beside his bier,

When not a word was spoken;

But every eye was dim with a tear,

And the silence by sobs was broken.

I have heard the earth on his coffin pour

To the muffled drum’s deep rolling,

While the minute-gun with its solemn roar

Drowned the death-bell’s tolling.

The time since he walked in his glory thus,

To the grave till I saw him carried,

Was an age of the mightiest change to us,

But to him a night unvaried.

We have fought the fight; from his lofty throne

The foe of our land we have tumbled;

And it gladdened each eye, save his alone,

For whom that foe we humbled.

A daughter beloved,—a Queen,—a son,—

And a son’s sole child have perished;

And sad was each heart, save the only one

By which they were fondest cherished.

For his eyes were sealed, and his mind was dark,

And he sat in his age’s lateness,

Like a vision throned, as a solemn mark

Of the frailty of human greatness.

His silver beard o’er a bosom spread,

Unvexed by life’s commotion,

Like a yearly-lengthening snow-drift shed

On the calm of a frozen ocean.

O’er him oblivion’s waters boomed,

As the stream of time kept flowing;

And we only heard of our King when doomed

To know that his strength was going.

At intervals thus the waves disgorge,

By weakness rent asunder,

A part of the wreck of the Royal George,

For the people’s pity and wonder.