Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The crowning of Dreaming John of Grafton by John Drinkwater

The crowning of Dreaming John of Grafton by John Drinkwater

I

Seven days he travelled
Down the roads of England,
Out of leafy Warwick lanes
Into London town.
Grey and very wrinkled
Was Dreaming John of Grafton,
But seven days he walked to see
A king put on his crown.

Down the streets of London
He asked the crowded people
Where would be the crowning
And when would it begin.
He said he'd got a shilling,
A shining silver shilling,
But when he came to Westminster
They wouldn't let him in.

Dreaming John of Grafton
Looked upon the people,
Laughed a little laugh, and then
Whistled and was gone.
Out along the long roads,
The twisting roads of England,
Back into the Warwick lanes
Wandered Dreaming John.

II

As twilight touched with her ghostly fingers
All the meadows and mellow hills,
And the great sun swept in his robes of glory-
Woven of petals of daffodils
And jewelled and fringed with leaves of the roses-
Down the plains of the western way,
Among the roads of scented clover
Dreaming John in his dreaming lay.

Since dawn had folded the stars of heaven
He'd counted a score of miles and five,
And now, with a vagabond heart untroubled
And proud as the properest man alive,
He sat him down with a limber spirit
That all men covet and few may keep,
And he watched the summer draw round her beauty
That shadow the shepherds the world to sleep.

And up from the valley and shining rivers,
And out of the shadowy wood-ways wild,
And down from the secret hills, and streaming
Out of the shimmering undefiled
Wonder of sky that arched him over,
Came a company shod in gold
And girt in gowns of a thousand blossoms,
Laughing and rainbow-aureoled.

Wrinkled and grey with eyes a-wonder
And soul beatified, Dreaming John
Watched the marvellous company gather
While over the clover a glory shone;
They bore on their brows the hues of heaven,
Their limbs were sweet with flowers of the fields,
And their feet were bright with the gleaming treasure
That prodigal earth to her children yields.

They stood before him, and John was laughing
As they were laughing; he knew them all,
Spirits of trees and pools and meadows,
Mountain and windy waterfall,
Spirits of clouds and skies and rivers.
Leaves and shadows and rain and sun,
A crowded, jostling, laughing army,
And Dreaming John knew every one.

Among them then was sound of singing
And chiming music, as one came down
The level rows of scented clover,
Bearing aloft a flashing crown;
No word of a man's desert was spoken,
Nor anyword of a man's unworth,
But there on the wrinkled brow it rested,
And Dreaming John was king of the earth.

III

Dreaming John of Grafton
Went away to London,
Saw the coloured banners fly,
Heard the great bells ring,
But though his tongue was civil
And he had a silver shilling,
They wouldn't let him in to see
The crowning of the king.

So back along the long roads,
The leafy roads of England,
Dreaming John went carolling,
Travelling alone,
And in a summer evening,
Among the scented clover,
He held before a shouting throng
A crowning of his own.
__________________

5 Comments:

Anonymous Griminal said...

I read this poem in Vol 10 I think, of Arthur Mees children's encyclopaedia about 1961. It made me cry then and made me cry now.A beautiful piece

4:25 pm  
Anonymous Tony said...

I read it in the same encyclopedia when I was very young. I still have all ten volumes and I'm 62 now. It moved me then and still does today.

2:48 am  
Blogger John Pendrey said...

Thanks Tony for taking me again to this magic land. I am nearly 72 and though I had the same encyclopaedia it was only later I discovered poetry. I often find poetry gives me a new perspective we can share.

6:48 pm  
Anonymous Val said...

I recited this beautiful poem in1948 when i was ten at a competition in Bristol.i learnt the whole poem by heart and loved it and it still moves my spirit today

7:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old and worn, my Arthur Mees Children's Encyclopedia, has wonderful poems in, this one of my favourites of all time, also The Cane Bottomed Chair, by Shelley.

1:48 pm  

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