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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

An Ironic Requiem

By Thomas Hood (1799–1845)

From ‘A Lament for the Decline of Chivalry’

WELL hast thou said, departed Burke,—

All chivalrous romantic work

Is ended now and past!

That iron age, which some have thought

Of mettle rather overwrought,

Is now all over-cast.

Ay! where are those heroic knights

Of old—those armadillo wights

Who wore the plated vest?

Great Charlemagne and all his peers

Are cold—enjoying with their spears

An everlasting rest.

The bold King Arthur sleepeth sound;

So sleep his knights who gave that Round

Old Table such éclat!

Oh, Time has plucked the plumy brow!

And none engage at turneys now

But those that go to law!…

Where are those old and feudal clans,

Their pikes, and bills, and partisans;

Their hauberks, jerkins, buffs?

A battle was a battle then,

A breathing piece of work; but men

Fight now with powder puffs!

The curtal-axe is out of date!

The good old cross-bow bends to Fate;

’Tis gone, the archer’s craft!

No tough arm bends the springing yew,

And jolly draymen ride, in lieu

Of Death, upon the shaft….

In cavils when will cavaliers

Set ringing helmets by the ears,

And scatter plumes about?

Or blood—if they are in the vein?

That tap will never run again—

Alas, the casque is out!

No iron crackling now is scored

By dint of battle-axe or sword,

To find a vital place;

Though certain doctors still pretend,

Awhile, before they kill a friend,

To labor through his case!

Farewell, then, ancient men of might

Crusader, errant squire, and knight!

Our coats and customs soften;

To rise would only make you weep:

Sleep on in rusty iron, sleep

As in a safety coffin!