Francis II, King of Naples
Written after reading Trevelyan's Garibaldi and the making of Italy
Poor foolish monarch, vacillating, vain, Decaying victim of a race of kings, Swift Destiny shook out her purple wings And caught him in their shadow; not again Could furtive plotting smear another stain Across his tarnished honour. Smoulderings Of sacrificial fires burst their rings And blotted out in smoke his lost domain. Bereft of courtiers, only with his queen, From empty palace down to empty quay. No challenge screamed from hostile carabine. A single vessel waited, shadowy; All night she ploughed her solitary way Beneath the stars, and through a tranquil sea.