Squire Norton's Song by Charles Dickens
Poem first published in 'The Poems and Verses of Charles Dickens' in 1903.
The child and the old man sat alone
In the quiet, peaceful shade
Of the old green boughs, that had richly grown
In the deep, thick forest glade.
It was a soft and pleasant sound,
That rustling of the oak;
And the gentle breeze played lightly round
As thus the fair boy spoke:--
"Dear father, what can honor be,
Of which I hear men rave?
Field, cell and cloister, land and sea,
The tempest and the grave:--
It lives in all, 'tis sought in each,
'Tis never heard or seen:
Now tell me, father, I beseech,
What can this honor mean?"
"It is a name -- a name, my child --
It lived in other days,
When men were rude, their passions wild,
Their sport, thick battle-frays.
When, in armor bright, the warrior bold
Knelt to his lady's eyes:
Beneath the abbey pavement old
That warrior's dust now lies.
"The iron hearts of that old day
Have mouldered in the grave;
And chivalry has passed away,
With knights so true and brave;
The honor, which to them was life,
Throbs in no bosom now;
It only gilds the gambler's strife,
Or decks the worthless vow."