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excerpted from the sonnet sequence Philip, Prince of Greece and Great Britain

He wore a white gold crown wherever he
Was living, Denmark, Greece, and also here
In Scotland and in England.  Like a spree
Of happiness, he was a musketeer
Of royal beauty whose blond diadem
Was full of pranks and alpha male-ish fun.
His suffering something to deny, a gem
Worn silently concealed the way a nun
Belies distress, young Philip’s pain was hard
As diamonds inside a regal watch
That keeps to time inerrantly.  If scarred,
He never showed it.  Platinum the swatch
__Of hair across his forehead, silver gold,
__Was like a future victory foretold.

.

.

Phillip Whidden is an American living in England who has been published in America, England, Scotland (and elsewhere) in book form, online, and in journals.  


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36 Responses

  1. James Sale

    A fine eulogy, Phillip: I particularly like the last line, and it blazes a sort of epic in its glory. It’s a shame Prince P never lived till he was 100 because if he had, he would have received an official letter from the Queen!

    Reply
    • Phillip Whidden

      Thanks for your positive response, James Sale. The musical setting of the sonnet was performed in an Oxfordshire C of E church this morning.

      Reply
  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    Sincerest condolences to Her Majesty, and to all British subjects in the United Kingdom and its dependencies, on the death of His Royal Highness, the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

    He was every inch a true man, and most royal in his actions and bearing. Requiescat in pace.

    Reply
  3. Jeff Eardley

    Philip, what a lovely tribute to a man who achieved so much. He has been a part of our lives forever over here. We have all day media coverage today, which is no bad thing. Your words pay tribute to our “Musketeer of Royal beauty” with a poetic eloquence that is a delight to read. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Phillip Whidden

      Thanks, Jeff Eardley, for your very positive response. The musical setting of the sonnet was performed in an Oxfordshire C of E church this morning.

      Reply
  4. Damian Robin

    This tribute to Prince Phillip is colloquial. Mr Whidden and others have said noble things above. And there is much love and sadness in the UK.

    He had a way of putting people from different walks of life at ease.

    He had a strong, reciprocally supporting relationship with his wife. And he tried to make the Royal Family accessible to millions through the media.

    He was a step behind the Queen at most public events though prominent in what went on inside the palace(s). He knew his place as her Consort. And she helped him with the awkwardness that surfaced from his turbulent early years.

    They were an ‘item’ for 73 years, the longest royal marriage in British and UK history.

    He had the British stiff upper lip (though he was born in Corsica to Greek royalty). And his upper lip was always part of a pair that smiled frequently and unassumingly.

    On Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh,
    Died April 9, 2021

    The Union Jack is at half mast
    above the royal palace.
    The old man of the Queen has passed,
    her standing mate and ballast.

    His private soul and public role
    were fused in royal duty,
    court dominance a rigmarole
    while dorming with his cutie.

    Though prominent he held scant pride,
    seemed awkward and old-fashioned,
    but disciplined and dignified,
    he kept his ego rationed.

    She needed him. He made her laugh.
    He knew her deep-down worries.
    It wasn’t just the oddball gaff,
    he knew what gave her flurries.

    It’s said he ran things like a ship
    (he’d sailed through war time’s slaughter).
    Three years ago they changed his hip,
    he walked (though not on water).

    Ahead of time through global greeds
    and capital connival,
    he set ideas of Nature’s needs
    and humankind’s survival.

    In many sports, scores looked to him
    (think horse driving or polo).
    Always active, fit, and trim
    in teamwork and when solo.

    How straight his core philosophy:
    be firm, upright, unswerving:
    core individuality
    though wed to regal serving.

    Goodbye good man of modesty,
    it seemed your royal mission
    was raising hearts with honesty
    in keeping with tradition.

    Reply
  5. C.B. Anderson

    So, Phillip, what did you think of his portrayal in the tv series, The Crown?. I thought he was portrayed rather sympathetically, overall, though he might have been a bit hard on his son, Prince Charles. If you haven’t watched this, I recommend it, if only so that you might give some thought to the details, which are many and manifold, and for the accuracy of which I cannot vouch. This is virtually all I have known of the man. My impression is that he actually loved his wife. After all, they had — what was it? — four kids. That’s twice as many as I have.

    Reply
    • Phillip Whidden

      Thanks for replying, C. B. Anderson. I did not watch “The Crown.” The bio that inspired the sonnet sequence that the sonnet was excerpted from is YOUNG PRINCE PHILIP by Philip Eade.

      Reply
  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Phillip, thank you for this beautiful sonnet in honour of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. You have captured the essence of the man in your admirably crafted lines.

    My heart goes out to Queen Elizabeth II – they obviously had a close and strong relationship. Your poem brings a very human touch to this stalwart royal that puts me in mind of my grandfather. My grandparents were of the same era… in fact, it’s my late grandmother’s birthday today. She would have been 99 – the same age as Prince Philip. My grandparents received a card from the Queen on their 60th anniversary, and I often saw the the royals pass by in their carriages when I worked in London.

    I appreciate this fine poetic nod. Thank you, too, Damian, for your lovely tribute. May he rest in peace.

    Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Phillip, thank you for this smile of a comment… the Queen, however, never touches anyone personally – it’s against regal regulation. 😉

      • Phillip Whidden

        I meant by card. I’m pretty sure she touched Philip and her corgis and horses.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        … of course she did… that was permitted under the Regal Regulations Act… although, I have heard that her offspring were were the result of immaculate conception… but, my late grandmother was prone to exaggeration.

        On a serious note, I love the music inspired by your admirable sonnet. It’s lovely when creativity is contagious.

      • Phillip Whidden

        By all accounts Princess Elizabeth had the hots for him, utterly, so I doubt the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.

        I hope Stephen Bartlet-Jones sees your comment about his music.

  7. Stephen Bartlet-Jones

    I hope you don’t mind: I was looking for poem to set to music as a tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh for Holy Trinity, Bledlow (in the diocese of Oxford). Your poem was by far the most interesting take I could find. You’re welcome to see the results here:

    https://youtu.be/YCz2LkE65Z0

    Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you object to the poem being used in this way: I will, of course, take it down immediately.

    Reply
    • Phillip Whidden

      I am thrilled to bitsy bits that you wrote that song about Philip. Thank you for sharing it with me. It is part of a long-ish sonnet sequence which the Society has so far not published. I loved especially the way the music emphasized the meaning of several words. You could probably tell on first reading that it focuses exclusively on the young Philip.
      https://www.phillipwhidden.com/philip-prince-of-greece-and-great-britain-a-sonnet-sequence-within-the-larger-sonnet-sequence-the-encyclopedia-sonnetica/

      Reply
      • Stephen Bartlet-Jones

        I’m delighted you like it! It’s always risky adapting poems by living poets in case your reading isn’t at all what they meant! But your writing lends itself to being set: it’s got strong internal rhythms that are more interesting than the tumpty-tum of the metre and word choices that make for good “painting”. So it was a pleasure. The setting’s included in this morning’s service at Bledlow (www.bledlowvirtualservice.uk).

        I shall read the rest of the poem cycle (which looks fascinating) with a glass of wine in hand once the kids are asleep this evening! (You should try and publish it soon, though: there’s almost nothing in the way of good, interesting poetic tributes to him around: they were all of the rather obvious “This lovely man became a prince / And what great deeds he’s done ever since! / I’d better add, because it rhymes, / that he’s a treasure of our times.”-variety, if you know what I mean!

    • Phillip Whidden

      I have subsequently tried to open your second version of your song on another device (not my laptop) and I’m glad to report that that ploy worked. I heard it finally. Thanks again.

      How did your performance go, please?

      Reply
  8. Phillip Whidden

    Thank you for your further two comments, Stephen Bartlet-Jones. You work fast, don’t you? Unfortunately when I copied and pasted the second youtube version into my search engine, something utterly distant from your song came up. I THINK I SHOULD WARN YOU: not all of the sequence is as eulogistic and laudatory as that sonnet you read. Quite a bit of it is, shall we say, more “realistic” about his circumstances during his early life. In fact because you were so pleased with this laudatory one, I think you might want to ignore the rest of the sequence. By the way, many people feel that even a proper sonnet is too thumpingly rhythmic. I won’t be able to attend the service. Sorry.

    Reply
    • Stephen Bartlet-Jones

      That’s odd – here’s a link which should work:

      https://youtu.be/7fVr-Sr4wOw?list=PL3_L6rzo5GYJgAczp4ud9qjuIuTG9IByb

      You needn’t worry about the public health warning in relation to the remainder of the series: not all organists are either religious or conservative. Sometimes they just like to follow music back upstream towards its source. But you’re right: most of the sequence would not have suited the particular purpose at hand – a church tribute. So I’m glad I found the one I did!

      And re sonnets: I’m a firm believer that rhythm and metre are entirely different things, and if they coincide too often the resulting verse becomes stagnant and dull. Poetry is just spoken music after all (indeed in Ancient Greek times, wasn’t even spoken): if you wrote every note on the beat and confined every phrase within a bar, you’d quickly end up boring your audience to sleep! So I agree with you.

      Anyway, thanks again and best of luck getting your cycle published.

      Reply
  9. David B. Gosselin

    Prince Philip’s son is currently one of the leading advocates for what is known as the “Great Reset” at the World Economic Forum. HRH Charles is a leading spokesman of the World Economic Forum, the powerful grouping of financial, corporate and media interests calling for a radical “reset” of the world economy. Unfortunately, Charles’ passion for radically changing and overhauling Western industrial society was something passed on from his father, Prince Philip, who was a leading and outspoken voice for massive world depopulation for decades.

    Philip was known for his remarkably candid statements, including such beauties:

    “In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, to contribute something to solving overpopulation.”

    – Prince Philip (1988)

    Philip considered the goal of world depopulation to be one of his main purposes in life. And one of the main ways that he sought to achieve this goal was through the promotion of radical ecological movements and idealogy. In fact, he was one of the three founders of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), alongside Julian Huxley (former president of the Eugenics society) and Prince Bernhard (former card-carrying Nazis and eugenicist). The WWF was one of the leading institutions and “charities” used to promote radical Malthusian population control under the thinly disguised veil of “ecological sustainability.”

    Philip’s role in launching what is today known as the modern environmentalist movement is very underappreciated. He was at the helm of it for over 50 years. Today, the World Economic Forum has become one of the leading bodies carrying on the work of Prince Philip’s World Wildlife Funded (funded by the leading oligarchs of Europe and their “fondi”).

    I’ve seen several people discuss the “Great Reset” on the SCP in the past, so I’m assuming some are aware, but for those who don’t know, the World Economic Forum is a body composed of many of the most wealthy individuals in the world who are calling on the rest of humanity to accept radical reductions in global living standards and population while they themselves continue to live the most lavish and high-co2 producing lifestyles in the world. Klaus Schwab (chairman of the WEF) recently said that with the coming “Great Reset”, “You will own nothing, and you will be happy.”

    HRH Prince Charles has become one of the leading voices of the World Economic Forum (often giving keynote addresses). Interestingly, Charles recently expressed his belief that the western world should look to indigenous cultures for a better idea of how we can create rapidly create a “carbon-neutral” society:

    “I’ve been talking to quite a lot of the First Nations leaders in Canada over the last year, and it’s high time we paid more attention to their wisdom, and the wisdom of indigenous communities and First Nations people all around the world.”

    In a word: if you still hang on to some form of Judeo-Christian values, you should probably scrap those in favor of cultures and spirituality which known how to live in greater harmony with “Mother Nature.”

    “We can learn so much from them as to how we can re-right the balance and start to rediscover a sense of the sacred, because nature – Mother Nature – is our sustainer, we are part of nature.”

    I think it’s worth observing the irony that a lot of Christians have a romanticized ideal of the Monarchy when it is itself one of the leading proponents of radical global Malthusian policies.

    No discussion of Prince Philip’s legacy would be adequate if we overlooked his life-long commitment to ushering in a world of Malthusian depopulation, and one that favors Gaia worship over the outdated and unsustainable forms of Western Judeo-Christian civilization (this is according to Philip and Charles).

    What it comes down to is that individuals like HRH Charles and his father share the view of a certain grouping of wealthy individuals who believe that allowing Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America to fully industrialize is not acceptable and cannot be allowed because the whole world would boil over due to global warming if the other parts of the world were allowed to have the same kind of standard of living enjoyed by people in Western Europe and North America (for now).

    HRH Charles recently stated that the global pandemic is a chance to “reset” the global economy:

    “We have a golden opportunity to seize something good from this crisis. Its unprecedented shock-waves may well make people more receptive to big visions of change.”

    People should probably take a closer look at what these “big visions of change” really look like.

    Charles and Philip have been leading advocates of this. One need only take a look at the World Economic Forum’s policies and platforms to see how far they have come…

    Preface to “Down to Earth” by HRH Prince Philip, 1988:

    “I don’t claim to have any special interest in natural history, but as a boy I was made aware of the annual fluctuations in the number of game animals and the need to adjust the ‘cull’ to the size of the surplus population.”

    Who should we cull first?

    Reply
    • Phillip Whidden

      This sonnet is about when Prince Philip was a teenager. The sonnet sequence that the sonnet was excerpted from was about his infancy, childhood, and youth…when he was very young.

      Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      You’ve just typed a fistful, David, and though I, too, might like to see a bit less human population pressure, you present the right question: Who shall be culled first? I have my own opinions about that, which I will not share, but it seems true that some ethnic groups (such as American Ashkenazi Jews) have seen the wisdom of self-regulation. Another thing of which I knew nothing was Prince Phillip’s “green” side. So, once again, the apple does not fall far from the tree.

      Reply
  10. Joseph S. Salemi

    Leave it to David Gosselin to post a tasteless and politically tendentious attack on a dead man, at a comment thread dedicated to honoring the man’s memory as a royal figure, and consort to Her Majesty.

    The Prince had the right to his sociopolitical opinions, like anyone else. I myself may not have agreed with all of them. But using the occasion of his passing as an opportunity to spout Schiller Institute and LaRouche-ite propaganda is distasteful and vulgar.

    And once again, the pathological hatred of the British royal family (a LaRouche-ite signature trait) is palpable.

    And David — if you care to reply, try to make it less than thirty paragraphs, OK?

    Reply
    • David B. Gosselin

      Dear Joseph,

      When Charles Manson passed away, did you lament because someone mentioned that he was a serial killer?

      More to the point: you didn’t disprove or try to disprove anything I said. In fact you can’t. It’s all true. It’s important to have both sides of the story so that we don’t romanticize things or people.

      Best,

      David

      Reply
  11. Joseph S. Salemi

    Prince Philip = Charles Manson? Wow. You must be smoking something pretty potent.

    You may not have noticed it, but nearly every single surviving monarchy in the world functions purely in a symbolic figurehead capacity, and has done so since 1918 and even much earlier in many cases. Royals live the most constricted and regulated of lives, and can make very few free choices.

    And yet you actually believe that Prince Philip and his son the Prince of Wales are involved in some nefarious plot to depopulate the world. OK, fine — believe what you like.

    But I tell you frankly, many of us here resent the fact that you use this literary website as a convenient place to promote LaRouch-ite theories, Schiller Institute dreaminess, and New-Silk-Road pieties from the CCP.

    You talk about “romanticizing things.” And yet you come come here to proselytize for a peculiar kind of Romantic poetry, one based on “timelessness” and “agape” and other abstractions. It’s a boring and fake aesthetic deriving from German Idealism, which sought to replace religion with tedious Teutonic Weltschmerz and gaseous longing for “the Sublime.” You want to write that way? Fine. But why come here and pester the rest of us to do the same?

    Reply
  12. David Bellemare Gosselin

    Dear Joseph,

    The World Wildlife Fund was in fact founded by the royal houses of England and the Netherlands, and has been one of the flagship organizations promoting the radical ecological movements which I’ve seen many people hear criticize as well, including its latest form with the “Great Reset.”

    Prince Charles being at the head of the “Great Reset” is not small potatoes. If you want to trace the history and growth of these environmental and Malthusian policies which have today become policy for most governments, one has to look at the genesis of things like the WWF.

    And the Great Reset is not something I or the Schiller Institute cooked up lol, you can see A LOT of people criticizing and exposing the Great Reset agenda.

    But since we are on the subject of Schiller, I don’t think you’re disagreeing so much with anything I’m saying about poetry as you are disagreeing with the outlook of people like Schiller, Shelley, and Poe, who all spoke on precisely this question of timeless poetry and all
    shared similar ideas.

    I think the SCP is an important outlet for dialogue about what it means to write just that, “classical poetry.” To write a timeless poem is to write a “classic.” The question is how to create new classics? I think that’s really the question today.

    Your focus generally centres on what might be called poetic “craft.” But the point is that poetry is about more than just “good craft.” One could easily just give nice descriptions of things according to formalist rules and call it a poem (and many do), but I’d argue that just following the “rules” doesn’t mean you’ve written a good poem or are a poet.

    A poem is a reflection of the poet’s universe. It is about ideas. People like Keats, Shelley, Poe, they all had very rigorous and philosophical minds that pondered what made great poetry great i.e. timeless. So the question becomes “what universe did Keats inhabit?” What universe did Schiller or Shelley inhabit.? This is what we find in their poetry. There are very powerful and important concepts, ideas that in a sense can be naturally expressed in metaphorical poetry, as opposed to literal prose. Poetry is a vehicle for elevated and non-literal forms of thought. If people lose the ability to think in metaphorical and non-literal forms of thought, they basically lose the ability to think.

    So one could argue that the decline of poetry and the ability to express poetical concepts can in many ways be tied to the loss of the ability of a general population to think.

    A poem is a window into the universe, and all of that is subject to investigation. So writing well I.e. good “craft” is really only half the work.

    I leave you with a wonderful Schiller quote. Schiller created classical German literature with Goethe. So given that we are here to discuss classical poetry, I can’t think of a more apropos quote:

    The Artist, it is true, is the son of his age; but pity for him if he is its pupil, or even its favorite! Let some beneficent Divinity snatch him when a suckling from the breast of his mother, and nurse him with the milk of a better time that he may ripen to his full stature beneath a distant Grecian sky. And having grown to manhood, let him return, a foreign shape, into his century; not, however, to delight it by his presence; but terrible, like the son of Agamemnon, to purify it. The matter of his works he will take from the present; but their Form he will derive from a nobler time, nay from beyond all time, from the absolute unchanging unity of his nature. Here from the pure aether of his spiritual essence, flows down the Fountain of Beauty, uncontaminated by the pollutions of ages and generations, which roll to and fro in their turbid vortex far beneath it.

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      To save time:

      1. [Poetry] “is about ideas.” (DBG) Poetry is NOT about ideas primarily. Poems are about themselves, and their own perfection. “Ideas” in poems are purely secondary and auxiliary, unless you are an ideologue or a preacher. Which is exactly what LaRouche-ites are.

      2. “Poetry is a vehicle for elevated and non-literal forms of thought.” (DBG) If a “form of thought” is “non-literal” and “elevated,” all that means is that it is a gaseous, inexpressible abstraction. If you happen to like that sort of thing, well… de gustibus non est disputandum. You are free to write endlessly and tediously about dreams, and the Sublime, and “timelessness.”

      3. Schiller, Keats, and Shelley were all obnoxious sociopolitical radicals, so yes, of course I disagree with their outlook. Poe was a good solid reactionary like me, so he’s a different case. Keats and Shelley both died young, so they had no chance to outlive their stupidity, as Wordsworth and Southey fortunately did. As for Schiller, he’s a hopeless example of Teutonic Weltschmerz and pre-Wagnerian bombast.

      4. “A poem is a reflection of the poet’s universe.” (DGB) Congratulations on a perfect platitude. But every poet has his own little universe, and they are bound to be quite different. The real problem with all this blather about “timeless” and “classic” poems is that it has the surreptitious aim of banishing all poems that do not follow the guidelines and templates of German Idealism, with all its windy and nebulous cloud-gazing.

      Reply
      • David Bellemare Gosselin

        Schiller, Keats and Shelley were all “obnoxious sociopolitical radicals” who all died before they could “outlive their stupidity.”

        Got it.

        Ironically, all three left us with some of the finest examples of classical/timeless poetry. What an anomaly!

        And yes, fighting for things like democracy, challenging the divine right of kings and hereditary rights can be so obnoxious! I mean, how dare they insult the Lords and Monarch? Shame on them!

        If only they would have focussed more on pretty language and not busied their minds with ideas, their poetry would have been so much better…

  13. BDW

    In my last email with Mr. Mantyk, he suggested I could be more forthcoming in my comments on the poems of others; and so I will trouble this thread with some thoughts of my own about Mr. Whidden’s poem and the ensuing discussion. First off, Mr. Whidden does not disappoint in the style of his writing, i. e., the crystalline sonnet, of which he seems to be the strongest advocate in English literature in the New Millennium. How could it be otherwise when he has written a sonnet sequence on Prince Philip alone? Not being English myself, before today I could not imagine writing a single poem of the ten-thousands I have written on individual British monarchs, being more of a republican ,in the French sense, than being a royalist, like T. S. Eliot, the great 20th century literary critic, poet, and dramatist.

    As Mr. Whidden probably remembers, I have already discussed what I do not like about his poetry (which undoubtedly in this strand he would consider negative). For anyone interested in those comments one can go to the archives. Therefore, I thought I should point out what I like about his work. First off, I appreciate that crystalline quality (for want of a better word) that makes his poetry Shelleyan, or like that of Hart Crane and some of the the Imagists, i. e., as hard as diamonds. Although, unlike Mr. Salemi, I appreciate many of the poetic correctives of Mr. Gosselin; but because of Mt. Whidden’s own poetic practice I am surprised Mr. Gosselin does not appreciate this sonnet more.

    So what could I say about Mr. Whidden’s sonnet? The more I thought about it, I fell in to his language, and instead of attempting a critical analysis of the positive. found myself writing a tennos with his words and phrases on his topic.

    Prince Philip Within, after Philip Whidden
    by Wilude Scarbeer

    He wore a white-gold crown wherever he was living at.
    Denmark or Scotland, England, Greece, a sprite-aristocrat..
    A spree of happiness, he was a jolly musketeer,
    fun pranks and royal highjinx, when ‘s blonde diadem appeered.
    His suffering was something to deny, to keep at bay,
    when skittering across the water on a sunny day.
    The way a nun belies distress, Prince Philip’s pain was hard
    as diamonds in a regal watch that keeps in time unjarred.
    His swatch of hair across his head a swath of silver gold,
    was like a foretold, future victory that was unrolled.
    As light as air of Ariel or monarch butterfly,
    that bird unheard by very few on Earth before he died.

    I was surprised by the contrast between Mr. Jones’ solemn, stolid music, and through its power, its embrace of Mr. Whidden’s sonnet. Whenever I think of music interwoven with poetry @ SCP, I think of Mr. Sedia’s youthful attempts in the manner of Poe. But we certainly don’t have that remarkable link between the era of Schiller and classical music, very much a part of the Western canon. I would be intrigued to hear what musical influences have wrought Mr. Jones own music. Though in my mind Poe’s poetry is weaker than that of Shelley, Keats, or Schiller, perhaps because I am an American radioactivist, I too, like polemicist Salemi, appreciate Poe’s “solid reactionary” attitudes.

    Reply

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