To the German Kaiser
Amazing Monarch! who at various times,
Posing as Europe's self-appointed saviour,
Afforded copy for our ribald rhymes
By your behaviour;
We nursed no malice; nay, we thanked you much
Because your head-piece, swollen like a tumour,
Lent to a dullish world the needed touch
Of saving humour.
What with your wardrobes stuffed with warrior gear,
Your gander-step parades, your prancing Prussians,
Your menaces that shocked the deafened sphere
With rude concussions;
Your fist that turned the pinkest rivals pale
Alike with sceptre, chisel, pen or palette,
And could at any moment, gloved in mail,
Smite like a mallet;
Master of all the Arts, and, what was more,
Lord of the limelight blaze that let us know it --
You seemed a gift designed on purpose for
The flippant poet.
Time passed and put to these old jests an end;
Into our open hearts you found admission,
Ate of our bread and pledged us like a friend
You shared our griefs with seeming-gentle eyes;
You moved among us cousinly entreated;
Still hiding, under that fair outward guise,
A heart that cheated.
And now the mask is down, and forth you stand
Known for a King whose word is no great matter,
A traitor proved, for every honest hand
To strike and shatter.
This was the "Day" foretold by yours and you
In whispers here, and there with beery clamours --
You and your rat-hole spies and blustering crew
Of loud Potsdamers.
And lo, there dawns another, swift and stern,
When on the wheels of wrath, by Justice' token,
Breaker of God's own Peace, you shall in turn
Yourself be broken.
Songs & Sonnets for England in War Time: Being a Collection of Lyrics by Various Authors Inspired by the Great War. London: John Lane, the Bodley Head, 1914.