For the Queen on Her 95th Birthday

How may our dismal century discern

The bygone greatness that you represent?

Elizabeth! Yet, did we ever earn

Thy myriad gifts, or ponder what they meant?


For even now thou pourest fourth thy life

Into the weaving of the nation’s cloth

And social fabric. Yea, for all the strife

Of these our times, we’ve never seen thee wroth.


Unto the humblest waif thy sceptered hand,

That Philip held and kissed, its warmth extends,

No differently than to the great and grand,

Though to thy God alone thy figure bends.


Wherefore, fair Queen, I tune the golden strings

Of England’s antique lute to chant thy praise,

And send thee blessings on sweet music’s wings,

O thou most worthy of a poet’s lays!


Britania lacks a voice to vent her heart,

No bard with tuneful lyre thy gests records,

And England’s poesie has lost its art:

A poem sans rhyme is but a harp sans cords.


And though our balladry no longer gleans

From time’s rich fields thy virtue’s beaming rays,

Dame History comes laden with the scenes

Of all the passages of all thy days,


The Fourth Month’s Princess, June’s bright Queen,

To thee the lilac and the lily bow,

As once incarnate valor, too, was seen,

To kneel before thee making solemn vow.


Two centuries process in measured pace,

In each art thou enthroned in heart and mind,

Nor wars nor fires diminish thy good grace,

In thee fresh charms shall future ages find.


Though some should fail in faith, and some in trust,

The shallow make their noise, the false betray,

The world, and we, must all return to dust,

Before Love’s victory on that last day.


For now, the people suffer all thy woes,

And part thy joys in merriment and mirth,

From these my verses, take the common rose

We offer thee this day of thy glad birth!

© Joseph Charles MacKenzie. All rights reserved.