The Three Kings
Henry Lawson, 1915
The three Scandinavian kings (Haakon of Norway, Gustav of Sweden, and Christian of Denmark) met recently at Malmo to "discuss economic difficulties".
Three kings have met by the Northern Sea
(And it seems the kingdoms are less by two),
And I wonder what the idea can be
And, somehow or other, I wish I knew.
For one has come from my father's land,
That used to be mighty in days of yore,
And one has come from the Danish strand,
And the three have met on the Swedish shore.
Considering Europe, the war and all,
And floating mines that have raised their ire,
It can hardly be only a casual call
To talk about whales by the kitchen fire.
And it scarcely could be to discuss the Crops,
And it scarcely could be to discuss the Cow;
For "butter is normal" in Danish shops,
And fields are frozen in Norway now.
It surely can't be to discuss a loan,
For things in Denmark are not "behind",
And my father's people (unlike my own)
Have never been folk of the borrowing kind.
They've a liking for work and they work all right,
As you may have noticed in lands like these
(What though their fathers preferred to fight
For the missus and kids on the Lord's high seas!).
It is not land-hunger (their world is wide),
It is certainly not on account of Fat,
Or kingly humbug or national "side"
The Norse have never been noted for that.
We had an example (or I'm mistook)
In recent years, and the tale is prized,
Of a Swedish king who raced his cook,
And none of his people were scandalised.
There wasn't a "gate", for he made no charge
He wanted to show, in a manly way,
That his legs were quick if his girth was large,
And his wind was good if his hair was grey.
And he won the race from a younger man,
Who had six yards' start - lest they might forget
That, though he had passed his three-score span,
There was life in the legs of the old king yet.
He's a happy shade in Valhalla now
(Three kingdoms are one that were always one),
And they part and forgather without a row,
And the kingly work of his race is done.
(The rhythm has gone like the Channel "chops",
And I can't make out, so I cannot say,
What old King Karl and his kingly props
Has got to do with this rambling lay.)
Three kings have met on the Swedish shore
(Now the rival kingdoms are less by three),
And I wonder what they were meeting for,
For it seems to have something to do with me.
But our mines have hoisted a barque or two
Or the German mines ('tis a similar tune),
And, somehow or other, I felt I knew
We'd hear from Norway and Denmark soon.