To the Queen

by ROBERT GRAVES
I REMEMBER, Ma’am, a frosty morning
When I was five years old and brought ill news,
Marching solemnly upstairs with the paper
Like an angel of doom; knocked gently.
“Father, the Times has a black border. Look!
The Queen is dead.”
Then I grew scared
When big tears started, ran down both his cheeks
To hang glistening in the red-grey beard—
A sight I had never seen before.
My mother thought to comfort him, leaned closer,
Whispering softly: “It was a ripe old age. . . .
She saw her century out.”The tears still flowed,
He could not find his voice. My mother ventured:
“We have a King once more, a real King,
‘God Save the King’ is in the Holy Bible.
Our Queen was, after all, only a woman.”
At that my father’s grief burst hoarsely out.
“Only a woman! You say it to my face?
Queen Victoria only a woman! What ?
Was the orb nothing? Was the sceptre nothing?
To cry ‘God Save the King’ is honourable,
But to serve a Queen is lovely. Listen now:
Could I have one wish for this son of mine. . .”
A wish fulfilled at last after long years.
Think well, Ma’am, of your great-great-grandmother
Who earned love, who bequeathed love to her sons,
Yet left one crown in trusts for you alone.