Pete Atkin sings
A King At Nightfall

by Clive James and Pete Atkin,
from A King At Nightfall

[Much more at]


The ring hangs on a string inside your shirt
You wedge the stable door
You eat your beans and bunk down in the straw
A king at nightfall

          You're gonna have to learn to live with this
          As you work or beg your way towards the border
          And shade your face to miss
          The multiplying eyes of the new order

You spun the crown away into a ditch
And saw the water close
The army that you fed now feeds the crows
A king at nightfall

          You're gonna have to watch your manners now
          And never let your face show what you're missing
          Don't wait for them to bow
          Stick out your hand for shaking, not for kissing

Tomorrow's men who trace you from the field
Will be in it for the bread
There'll be a price on your anointed head
A king at nightfall

          You're gonna have to learn how quick to run
          And that means slowly, watching all the angles
          Don't try to use that gun
          Stay very loose and cool, and out of tangles

You reach to brush your collar free of straw
And then you feel the string
There's light enough for one look at the ring
And it's lovely but it doesn't mean a thing
A king at nightfall
A king at nightfall