written quotes

Lost quotations

Have a look at the lost quotes below and see if you can help us out! (Please note that comments must be suitable for audiences of all ages and may be removed if not.)

"There stands at Runnymede a king" | 23-May-05

Learned about 55 years ago:

"There stands, at Runnymede, a king while summer clothes the plains.
The blood of high Plantagenet is coursing through his veins.
But yet a sceptred hand he lifts to shade a haggard brow, 
As if constrained to do a deed his pride would disallow."

In the middle was a section that I remember my history teacher wouldn't (or couldn't!) explain: 

"Above the blast young Arthur's shriek doth make the murderer quake
As if again his guiltless blood from Rouen's prison spake."

The final lines went: 
"Yet earth for her most guilty sons the festive board doth set
The winecup and the opiate draft - yet say, can Heaven forget?"

From the style and vocabulary I'd place it as a late Victorian female writer!  It came up with grandchildren discovering Magna Carta.

5 comments have been made on this quote. Click here to read them and then add your own!

Do you know this poem? Do you have any clues to help us find it?


I don't know the poem, but the story about Arthur was that he was the son of John's elder brother, Geoffrey Duke of Brittany, who disappeared mysteriously and whom John was alleged to have had murdered because he had a better claim than John to the throne of England (and the French king was backing him against John). I don't know how much historical truth there is in the story, but it is enshrined in Shakespeare's "King John", where Arthur's jailer takes pity on him and will not carry out the King's warrant to blind the prince, so that John loses patience and commits the murder with his own hand.
Judy Taylor

I was exposed to this poem in 6th class, Waverley Primary, Sydney, in 1939, and have forgotten all but the first two lines. I've never been able to unearth the poem since that time. I only wish I had something to contribute to the search.
Keith Gittoes

I put this search on originally and was startled today to discover it was still going!
The poem is 'King John' by Lydia H Sigourney 1791 - 1865 called the 'Sweet Singer of Hartford' or 'The American Mrs Hemans'!
I was equally surprised at how accurately I'd remembered the bit of it. Not bad for an old man.
Brian Anderson

for some reason I have had the first verse of this poem running through my head for a while so decided to look it up on the web...subsequently found your post.
I was originally taught it in 6th grade primary school in a history class in 1953 (when most things were learned by rote)
Unfortunately I cant recall the name of the poem or author/ess or indeed the whole poem, but it obviously had an impact on
me in order for me to remember as much as I have for this
In 1972 I visited the meadow beside the river Thames in Surrey England ,which is supposedly the site where King John signed the Magna Carta.and had the poem in my head at that time too.
elizabeth fairfax

A slightly varied version is below:


There stands on Runimede a king whose name we need not tell,

For the blood of high Plantagenet within his veins doth swell, And yet a sceptred hand he lifts, to shade his haggard brow, As if constrained to do a deed his pride would disallow.

He pauses still.?His faint eye rests upon those barons bold, 'Whose hands are grappling to their swords with fierce and sudden hold,

That pause is broke.?-He bows him down before those steelgirt men,

And glorious Magna Charta glows beneath his trembling pen.

His false lip to a smile is wreathed, as their exulting shout, Upon the gentle summer air, thro' the broad oaks peals out; Yet lingers long his cowering glance on Thames' translucent tide,

As if some deep and bitter thought he from the throng would hide.

I know what visiteth his soul, when midnight's heavy hand, Doth crush the emmet cares of day, and wave reflection's wand?

Forth stalks his broken-hearted sire, wrapt in the grave-robe drear,

And close around the ingrate's heart doth cling the ice of fear.

I know what sounds are in his ear, when wrathful tempests roll,

When God doth bid his lightnings search, his thunders try the soul,

Above the blast young Arthur's shriek doth make the murderer quake,

As if again his guiltless blood from Rouen's prison spake.

But though no red volcano burst to whelm the men of crime, No vengeful earthquake fiercely yawn to gorge them ere their time,

Though Earth for her most guilty sons the festive board doth set,

The wine-cup and the opiate draught,?yet ne'er can Heaven forget.

Geoff Skipworth

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