If I Were King

I’m not well studied in Poetry but occasionally I’ll stumble across one that really touches me and I’ll save it to a file so that I can periodically read them and ponder their meanings.   

While watching the movie Invictus , which chronicles the two lives of a Rugby captain Francois Pienaar and Nelson Mandela after the fall of Apartheid in South Africa, I started to look at other poems by William Ernest Henley and came across one entitled “If I Were King.”

If I were king, my pipe should be premier. The skies of time and chance are seldom clear, We would inform them all with bland blue weather. Delight alone would need to shed a tear, For dream and deed should war no more together. 

Art should aspire, yet ugliness be dear; Beauty, the shaft, should speed with wit for feather; And love, sweet love, should never fall to sere, If I were king. 

But politics should find no harbour near; The Philistine should fear to slip his tether; Tobacco should be duty free, and beer; In fact, in room of this, the age of leather, An age of gold all radiant should appear, If I were king.

I don’t profess to have the literary knowledge to perform a detailed exegesis of the entire poem but a few lines grabbed me and I think this poem paints a picture of a better world.  Tears would only be shed in joy.  Our dreams and our actions would be aligned.  Politics would be treated with extreme prejudice and extricated from the body. 

Not a bad place to live, if you ask me.  

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