In Spring, this is the fate that princes face:
Proclaim the way the tree of state shall grow,
Then hold that course, till autumn’s lost leaves show
That other branches led to less disgrace.
And when the pox blot’s Summer’s crop with blood,
The royal eye must pick the stems to prune;
Then watch, as past the cuts the poisons flood
While other, healthy twigs are trimmed too soon.
Leaves fall. The branch is bare; the year is done
And Winter claims a plan still incomplete.
Frozen, still thin, it cracks beneath new feet:
The state’s elect, replacement, younger son.
But rare’s the step that treads on something strange.
Four seasons hence, the forest’s barely changed.
What’s sad? What’s wrong? What’s broken in the world?
Whisper these questions, and the people cry:
“No shoe without a leak, no wing not furled!
The rain has come, and nothing is left dry.”
A salty rain, that slakes no thirsts, nor fields?
From whence the wind that blows so cursed a cloud?
“From lands still further East,” the East Wind yields,
“In distant seas, my weather-fields are ploughed.”
These ancient atolls grow the Earth’s own wool,
Spun from the foam of seas that should be sweet.
But west-bound tides, the briny currents pull
From shores beyond the East, where two paths meet:
West-flowing rivers drain the flood of tears,
Which sea and sky return to haunt our years.