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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.


The Duke’s Exequy

By Edmund Clarence Stedman (1833–1908)

CLOTHED in sable, crowned with gold,

All his wars and councils ended,

Philip lay, surnamed The Bold:

Passing-bell his quittance tolled,

And the chant of priests ascended.

Mailéd knights and archers stand,

Thronging in the church of Arras;

Nevermore at his command

Shall they scour the Netherland,

Nevermore the outlaws harass;

Naught is left of his array

Save a barren territory;

Forty years of generous sway

Sped his princely hordes away,

Bartered all his gold for glory.

Forth steps Flemish Margaret then,

Striding toward the silent ashes;

And the eyes of arméd men

Fill with startled wonder, when

On the bier her girdle clashes!

Swift she drew it from her waist,

And the purse and keys it carried

On the ducal coffin placed;

Then with proud demeanor faced

Sword and shield of him she married.

“No incumbrance of the dead

Must the living clog forever;

From thy debts and dues,” she said,

“From the liens of thy bed,

We this day our line dissever.

“From thy hand we gain release,

Know all present by this token!

Let the dead repose in peace,

Let the claims upon us cease,

When the ties that bound are broken.

“Philip, we have loved thee long,

But, in years of future splendor,

Burgundy shall count among

Bravest deeds of tale and song

This, our widowhood’s surrender.”

Back the stately duchess turned,

While the priests and friars chanted,

And the swinging incense burned:

Thus by feudal rite was earned

Greatness for a race undaunted.