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Leigh Hunt
1784 - 1859


King Francis was a hearty king, and loved a royal sport,

And one day, as his lions fought, sat looking on the court;

The nobles fill'd the benches, and the ladies in their pride,

And  'mongst them sat the Count de Lorge, with one for whom he sigh'd:

And truly 'twas a gallant thing to see that crowning show,

Valour and love, and a king above, and the royal beasts below.

Ramp'd and roar'd the lions, with horrid laughing jaws;

They bit, they glared, gave blows like beams, a wind went with their paws;

With wallowing might and stifled roar they roll'd on one another,

Till all the pit with sand and mane was in a thunderous smother;

The bloody foam above the bars came whisking through the air;

Said Francis then,  "Faith, gentlemen, we're better here than there."

De Lorge's love o'erheard the king, a beauteous lively dame

With smiling lips and sharp bright eyes, which always seem'd the same;

She thought,  the count my lover is brave as brave can be;

He surely would do wondrous things to show his love of me;

King, ladies, lovers, all look on; the occasion is divine;

I'll drop my glove to prove his love; great glory shall be mine.

She dropp'd her glove to prove his love, then look'd at him and smiled;

He bow'd and in a moment leap'd among the lions wild:

The leap was quick, return was quick, he has regain'd the place,

Then threw the glove, but not with love, right in the lady's face.

"By God ! "   Said Francis,   "rightly done ! "   And he rose from where he sat;

"No love,"  quoth he,  "but vanity,  sets love a task like that."


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