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True Brotherhood

  The helmsman sings a merry song:
Haec est vera fraternas,
and downs a cup of something strong,
Hick, vera, hick, hick, fraternas.

The sailors dance a lusty jig,
forsaking sails, crow's nest and rig.
Young princes and their ladies fair
join in the drunken helmsman's air:
Haec est vera fraternas.

Commoners with nobles prance.
Friars and laymen, how they dance!
The jester sports a broken lance,
a trophy from the fields of France.

"To Henry!" sounds the raucous toast.
Hear the young knights, how they boast
of conquests on and off the field,
when foemen or coy maidens yield.

While Fitzroy strokes a wench's leg,
the boatswain opes yet one more keg.
See their chains of gleaming gold,
but feel the wind grown strangely cold.

William the atheling alone,
to the marrow of each bone
feels what sorrows must atone
for the sins of court and throne.

Woe to the ship, woe to the realm,
where none is mindful of the helm.
Woe to the king who ne'er shall smile,
woe to those bereft of child.

Gone is that day and gone that night,
gone that ship so ghostly white,
gone the prince who bravely sought
to save his sister, deed ill bought!

If, one night by Barfleur's shore,
you may hear that song once more:
Haec est vera fraternas,
et haec est aeternitas.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2017

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