Nurse’s song – M. K. Joseph
It’s better not to ask, not to deny
But soothe the baby with a lullaby
Nor hint his legacy of grace and grief
Of state and sorrow, bearing and belief.
The palace duties and the palace joys;
The Dauphin howling at his emerald toys
The Infanta in a grape-skin velvet dressed
Low cut to show the glamour of her breast;
The ebony and ivory of the table
In circled candle-light; the hand scarce able
To lift the monstrous amethyst, which afar
Shines to its trembling like a dancing star;
The polished galleries on a summer night
Ablaze like rivers in the thunderous light
(Still and unwinking stood the halberdiers
As the cloaked figure passed with the sound of tears);
The chapel where, by chantry screen, there sings
A youth leading responses to the king’s
Obsequies, whose lineaments he bore.
He sings in sweet soprano evermore
O'Sullivan, V. (Ed.). (1979). An anthology of twentieth century New Zealand poetry. Wellington: Oxford University Press.