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Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)

The Glove and the Lions


              1King Francis was a hearty king, and loved a royal sport,
              2And one day as his lions fought, sat looking on the court;
              3The nobles filled the benches, and the ladies in their pride,
              4And 'mongst them sat the Count de Lorge, with one for whom he sighed:
              5And truly 'twas a gallant thing to see that crowning show,
              6Valour and love, and a king above, and the royal beasts below.

              7Ramped and roared the lions, with horrid laughing jaws;
              8They bit, they glared, gave blows like beams, a wind went with their paws;
              9With wallowing might and stifled roar they rolled on one another;
            10Till all the pit with sand and mane was in a thunderous smother;
            11The bloody foam above the bars came whisking through the air;
            12Said Francis then, "Faith, gentlemen, we're better here than there."

            13De Lorge's love o'erheard the King, a beauteous lively dame
            14With smiling lips and sharp bright eyes, which always seemed the same;
            15She thought, the Count my lover is brave as brave can be;
            16He surely would do wondrous things to show his love of me;
            17King, ladies, lovers, all look on; the occasion is divine;
            18I'll drop my glove, to prove his love; great glory will be mine.

            19She dropped her glove, to prove his love, then looked at him and smiled;
            20He bowed, and in a moment leaped among the lions wild:
            21The leap was quick, return was quick, he has regained his place,
            22Then threw the glove, but not with love, right in the lady's face.
            23"By God!" said Francis, "rightly done!" and he rose from where he sat:
            24"No love," quoth he, "but vanity, sets love a task like that."

Notes

1] The same theme is treated by Browning in The Glove, and by Schiller in Der Handschuh. The anecdote to which all three go back is related in the Essais Historiques sur Paris, by M. de Saintfois.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: The New Monthly Magazine (London, May 1836). AP 4 N45 Robarts
First publication date: 1836
RPO poem editor: J. D. Robins
RP edition: 2RP.2.155; RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/8

Rhyme: aabbcc


Other poems by Leigh Hunt