Ode to King Charles III

A poem for the new monarch

Someone shown from the legs down holds two paintings, one of Queen Elizabeth II and one of King Charles III
Olivia Arthur / Magnum

The trees groan like Morrissey, the rain comes down
and an owl hoots confidentially, knowing something I don’t.
Millions will mourn your departed mother
and millions won’t.

South from Scotland to darkly dripping London,
flag-draped and ghostly illumined
in the back of the glass-topped hearse,
her coffin swooped over the Westway,
dawdled round Hyde Park Corner
and into the next age. Your age. Which will—we trust—be worse.

What a lady she was. With legs well-hosed
and emotions foreclosed,
she broadcast nonetheless
a compact and saintly liveliness,
permitting no pique or peeve to perturb her throne—
unlike you, who appear to be somewhat tantrum-prone.

Immortal now in the world’s lens
is the spectacle of you losing it over those bloody pens:
your roast-beef hands fussing and fluttering,
the ludicrous words you were uttering ….
Are you up to the gig, o mystical monarch?
Yours is a complex path.
You’ve read your Blake and you’ve read your Jung.
And every evening a manservant runs your bath.

They buried her royally
and we watched it loyally,
munching our cereal while feeling funereal.
We’re the best at this. We do it so well.
The nodding plume and the dolorous bell.
And what’s coming next, who can tell?