The summer swelters through the slender night;
Sir Robert thinks his nodding fool a laggard.
He blinks for want of sleep, his bearing haggard,
but Robert keeps him up till morning’s light.
“O loneliness –
O loneliness of hours awake alone;
O loneliness of empty halls of stone;
O loneliness of unapproachéd throne,
for no one seeks of me.
In misery –
in misery of never knowing rest;
in misery to spend my life obsessed;
in misery of having what is blessed,
but not the worth of it.
And tragedy –
and tragedy of wasting all my wealth!
And tragedy of never knowing health -
and tragedy of living life by stealth,
in secret citadel.
Fool! Get thou up, and do your merry work;
now, for Sir Robert’s sake, seek not to shirk,
for, if my patience you should ever irk,
you know that you will join the rest.”
Fool: “There once was a king in a castle –“
Sir Robert: “Catch me no kings!”
Fool: “There once was a fool with a feather –“
Sir Robert: “Fetch me no fools!”
Fool: “There once was a knight with a nettle –“
Sir Robert: “Well?”
Fool: “Oh. Um –“
Sir Robert: “Gah!”
“Sire, it is just ‘fore dawn;
serve though I must, I yawn;
nerves that you’ve stretched are torn,
grant me to meet the morn
for once at rest?”
“Why should you rest when I
suffer here fit to die?
Leave me, would you, to sigh?
Do you expect I cry
at your small whims?
lone among men, for you I pity know;
ever the butt of my long years of woe.
Well, if you must, then get thee gone and go.
But in your heart, remember me.”