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The Volunteer, A Poem Inspired by HRH Prince George of Cambridge
'We have a future king to make,' Said the deep, resounding voice. 'But it is not a proper fit for everyone. For a king must know first how to obey than to command, And to abide rather than reign.' 'And thus, I need a volunteer.' The eager little voices swiftly gathered ‘round. 'To have a throne and my own crown,' said a little voice with delight. 'A great palace for my home,' cried another, 'or a castle with tall ramparts.' 'I’d be above all others,' said yet another, 'that would surely ease one’s comparing mind;' 'And best of all, to be revered by everyone and through all time!' 'Don’t fool yourselves with thrones and crowns,' said a little voice from the side, 'Do not haste into a choice you may regret for all your life! I’d rather risk oblivion and even want, but be free to choose my fate, What is precious life for but to discover one’s gift and thirst? You take that crown and throne, and you forever renounce the greatest prize you own!' There were no volunteers at hand for that grand, distinguished life. The once lively little voices now stood silent, with cautious glances in their eyes. Yet they began to move a little, but not to volunteer their fates; Someone was slowly coming forward all the way from far behind. Soon, one single little voice stood ahead of all the others, and with a thoughtful stare, it spoke: 'I overheard a story once Of a vast and balmy river That braves across cold, stormy seas So it can meet a fabled shore And become one with it. 'Wearied from its long voyage, It crashes beneath the sheer cliffs. And as its froth caresses the jagged rocks, It echoes the green, velvety meadows above Which gently cuddle the harsh precipice. 'The wee, babe-in-arms coming king Will hold that fabled shore in him. For he, though one sole man Will stand for an entire land. And in choosing this destiny Of that fabled shore I also shall be, For it will be a part of me, And I, humbly, of it. 'And then, there is the brave lad who in sheer fright, Gathered all his nerve and leaped into the dark night Over the unknown enemy’s laird. Oh, how I would leap into the dark along with thee! Though he is now long gone, he will live in me, And I, humbly, in him. 'And the family who huddled deep beneath the ground Through the terrifying shudder of the enemy’s raging rounds. Then, to rise again, and not concede. I was in that shelter along with them, And so were a million others who were yet to be! 'Such as the young boy now walking to school on a quiet country lane, To learn his Scott, his Shakespeare, his Milton, and his Keats. I will follow him close behind, and my own feet shall grow within his footprints. It takes no less than each of them to make a king, And not more than lacking one to lessen him. For a king, though one sole self, stands for all, And all do stand for him. 'I know that in choosing this path, I’ll forever relinquish command of my compass, And may never find out what I could’ve become on my own, Or what my true talent may be. I will follow, instead, a course that has long been set, By others, and not by me. 'But I have a strong hunch That if I don’t put myself first, Or what I feel I’m entitled to do and to have, And choose, instead, to be fair, as best as I possibly can, To those for whom I’ll be honored to stand, I’ll eventually know who I really am; And will meet, one day, the man I am meant to become.' 'Thus, I volunteer To be the child who’s one day to be king.' A newborn day blazed in the distance, And a transformation was about to take place, As momentous as the invasion of spring, The rising of the harvest, or a mighty winter gale. Nearly two thousand babies were coming to life on that land, From that land, to that land, for that land, And a single one amongst them exalted all. Half a world away, a vast and balmy river Was setting out on its long voyage to a fabled shore, And nearby, radiant sunlight battled gray, stormy clouds, So as to break through and paint in brilliant and broad brushstrokes The lofty Highlands below, And thus, be reborn as shimmering glens and moors.
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