King Francis was a hearty king, and loved a royal sport;
And one day, as his lions fought, sat looking on the court:
The nobles filled the benches round, the ladies by their side,
And 'mongst them sat the Count de Lorge, with one for whom he sighed;
And truly 'twas a gallant thing to see that crowning show -
Valour and love, and a king above, and the royal beasts below.
Ramp'd and roar'd the lions, with horrid laughing jaws;
They bit, they glared, gave blows like beams - a wind went with their paws:
With wallowing might and stifled roar, they rolled on one another,
Till all the pit, with sand and mane, was in a thunderous smother;
The bloody foam above the bars came whizzing through the air;
Said Francis then, "Faith! Gentlemen, we're better here than there!"
De Lorge's love o'erheard the King,--a beauteous lively dame,
With smiling lips and sharp bright eyes, which always seem'd the same:
She thought, "The Count my lover is brave as brave can be -
He surely would do wondrous things to show his love of me:
Kings, ladies, lovers, all looked on; the occasion is divine"
I'll drop my glove, to prove his love: great glory will be mine!"
She dropped her glove to prove his love, then looked at him and smiled;
He bowed, and in a moment leapt among the lions wild.
The leap was quick, return was quick, he has regain'd his place,
Then threw the glove - but not with love - right in the lady's face!
"in truth," cried Francis, "rightly done!" and rose from where he sat.
"no love," quoth he, "but vanity, sets love a task like that!"