THE EXECUTION OF SIR THOMAS MORE
Sir Thomas More
Holbein's More, my patron saint as a convert,
the gold chain of S's, the golden rose,
the plush cap, the brow's damp feathertips of hair,
the good eyes' stern, facetious twinkle, ready
to turn from executioner to martyr-
or saunter with the great King's bluff arm on your neck,
feeling that friend-slaying, terror-dazzled heart
balooning off into its awful dream-
a noble saying, 'How the King must love you!'
And you, 'If it were a question of my head,
or losing his meanest village in France . . .'
then by the scaffold and the headsman's axe-
'Friend, give me your hand for the first step,
as for coming down, I'll shift for myself.'
-- Robert Lowell