A Celebration of Women Writers

"A Monarch's Death-Bed" by Felicia Hemans (1793-1835) Records of Woman: With Other Poems. Edinburgh: William Blackwood, & London: T. Cadell, 1828, second edition. pp. 234-236.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 234] 


The Emperor Albert of Hapsburgh, who was assassinated by his nephew, afterwards called John the Parricide, was left to die by the way-side, and only supported in his last moments by a female peasant, who happened to be passing.

A MONARCH on his death-bed lay–
  Did censors waft perfume,
And soft lamps pour their silvery ray,
  Thro' his proud chamber's gloom?
He lay upon a greensward bed,
  Beneath a dark'ning sky–
A lone tree waving o'er his head,
  A swift stream rolling by.

[Page 235] 

Had he then fall'n as warriors fall,
  Where spear strikes fire with spear?
Was there a banner for his pall,
  A buckler for his bier?
Not so;–nor cloven shields nor helms
  Had strewn the bloody sod,
Where he, the helpless lord of realms,
  Yielded his soul to God.

Were there not friends with words of cheer,
  And princely vassals nigh?
And priests, the crucifix to rear
  Before the glazing eye?
A peasant girl that royal head
  Upon her bosom laid,
And, shrinking not for woman's dread,
  The face of death survey'd.

[Page 236] 

Alone she sat:–from hill and wood
  Red sank the mournful sun;
Fast gush'd the fount of noble blood,–
  Treason its worst had done!
With her long hair she vainly press'd
  The wounds, to staunch their tide–
Unknown, on that meek humble breast,
  Imperial Albert died!


Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom