John Ferrour's portrait of Charles I hangs above the platform at the Poetry Festival in the Town Hall, King’s Lynn.
It is based on the frontispiece to the Eikon Basilike, a pious defence of the divine right of kings and a forgiveness of the regicides, supposedly written by the king himself and published ten days after his execution.
Here is a poem inspired by this painting:
The body has no weight. A hidden knee
Supports his general impulse to ascend,
And kneeling’s not in question. What we see
Is a soul arising. Nothing to offend
In silken folds and earthly crown discarded,
In head and hands too self-absorbed for prayer,
The space before the heart gracefully guarded
By delicate fingers plucking a lute in air.
Beneath this tragic eikon, which defines
Self-justifying memoir as devotion
('Conscience before kingdoms'), the poets’ lines
Conjure a not dissimilar emotion.
George, Gavin, Peter, Anthony, Kit,
Perhaps you remembered (and remember) it?
John Fuller, poet and Fellow Emeritus at Magdalen College, Oxford