To strike a playful note for today, the poem I chose comes from a lovely children’s book titled Kings and Queens, by Eleanor and Herbert Farjeon, illustrated by Rosalind Thornycroft. This book was first published in 1932, and my new edition was published by the British Library in 2011.
Of course every good little anglophile should know their English kings and queens; this book documents every English monarch, from William I (1066) to the current queen Elizabeth II, with a witty poem and a striking illustration. What caught my attention was the complex meter each poem uses; today’s choice, a poem about the terrible king Edward II (the first Marlowe play I ever saw), uses a triple rhyme scheme to great effect. As you should be doing with all these poems, please read it aloud:
Edward the Second
Is commonly reckoned
One of the feeblest of all of our kings.
Favours he lavished on
Pretty Piers Gaveston,
Giving him duchies and riches and rings.
Puffed-up and dandified
Man defied all of the Barons with sneers,
Playing his foolery
Dressed up in joolery
Sent by King Ned to his Sugar-plum Piers.
Though Ned was mad about
This giddy gadabout,
Others had had about all they could bear;
So the King’s favourite
They made to pay for it
On a find day for it, spring in the air.
When those that hated Piers
Edward was sorry, but everyone said,
“We executed him
Seeing it suited him–
Long ere we cut it off, Piers lost his head.”