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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Introductory to Spain

The Wake of the King of Spain

By Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743–1825)

  • The kings of Spain for nine days after death are placed sitting in robes of state with their attendants around them, and solemnly summoned by the proper officers to their meals and their amusements, as if living.

  • ARRAYED in robes of regal state,

    But stiff and cold the monarch sate;

    In gorgeous vests, his chair beside,

    Stood prince and peer, the nation’s pride;

    And paladin and high-born dame

    Their place amid the circle claim;

    And wands of office lifted high,

    And arms and blazoned heraldry,—

    All mute like marble statues stand,

    Nor raise the eye, nor move the hand;

    No voice, no sound to stir the air,

    The silence of the grave is there.

    The portal opens,—hark, a voice!

    “Come forth, O king! O king, rejoice!

    The bowl is filled, the feast is spread,

    Come forth, O king!” The king is dead.

    The bowl, the feast, he tastes no more,

    The feast of life for him is o’er.

    Again the sounding portals shake,

    And speaks again the voice that spake:

    “The sun is high, the sun is warm;

    Forth to the field the gallants swarm,

    The foaming bit the courser champs,

    His hoof the turf impatient stamps;

    Light on their steeds the hunters spring;

    The sun is high,—Come forth, O king!”

    Along these melancholy walls

    In vain the voice of pleasure calls:

    The horse may neigh, and bay the hound,—

    He hears no more; his sleep is sound.

    Retire;—once more the portals close;

    Leave, leave him to his dread repose.