Priest—King—Burgher—Serf

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Dyer D. Lum

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PRIEST—KING—BURGHER—SERF.

I.

PRIEST—AGE OF GREGORY VII.

Kneel! Henry, kneel! Strip off thy coat of mail,
In penitential garment kiss the feet
Which spurn thee; thou should'st deem it penance meet
For God'B Anointed, who has dared to rail
At him whom men as Christ's vice-gerent hail,
Gazing with awe, who deem thy act replete
With Christian love, thy penitence concrete,
For now, henceforth, must unity prevail.
Bend! rebel, bend! Authority is one,
Else God is myth, and men with joy elate
See o'er thy prostrate form God's Holy Son,
Whose church triumphant hails this welcome hour
When monarch, burgher, serf, bow 'neath her power
Nor dream in store for them more gracious fate.

II.

KING — AGE OF LOUIS XIV.

Down, scheming burghers! Cease, and ne'er again
Of rights communal prate, nor still give swing
To hopes illusory that rights can spring
But from thy sovereign's will. By law attain
What law permits, and swell the glad refrain
Which through the sculptured temple's arches ring,
Where churchmen kneel before their Son and King,
And shout: Authority is one,—not twain,—
Else God is myth. E'en downcast eyes behold,
As God's Anointed's faintest wish is heard,
The gleaming sabres flash, and forth thy gold
From hidden coffers leap; bow low thy head,
And back with serfs thy humble pathway tread,
And write across thy bill of rights: Deferred.

III.

BURGHER — ARE OF MALTHUS.

Pence, restless serfs! Disturb not with thy groans
The self-complacent ease plebeian lords
Display, nor curse with bitter, railing words
The law and order which from childhood's moans
Extract new pomp and rack thy aching bones
For luxuries, or make thy secret hoards
Procure for them what social life affords
To nameless lust, where wealth for all atones.
Keep silence, mob! Authority is one,
Else God is myth, and priest and king unite
Behind the burgher, once his battle won:
The priest to bless, the king to give his sword,
And hail a people's abstract will as Lord
In States where wealth alone is divine right.

IV.

AGE OF MAN.

Fraternity! a plant from lowly seed,
First strove for growth when social life began
In stony soil with prehistoric man,
And twined its tendrils 'round each loving deed;
Depressed and shaded by the noxious weed
Authority, still on its rootlets ran
Beneath the soil where none its course could scan
In quest of life, till warmth and heat should speed
Its growth, and burst on men in full-blown flower;
When priestly stake and kingly sword/hall lay
At rest, divorced from burgher's bastard power.
Hark! Time declares Fraternity is one,
Else progress is a myth, and 'neath the sun
The priest — king — burgher — serf are one for aye!

Dyer D. Lum


  • Dyer D. Lum, “Priest—King—Burgher—Serf,” Liberty 3, no. 15 (October 3, 1885): 1.