He was the Sun King.
His image is everywhere, in painting, bust or statue,
Mounted proudly upon his horse
Or, with forward thrust leg, imperiously staring from canvas.
Long ago he planned this splendour,
A palace and garden as grand
As ego, unlimited funds and meticulous design
Could ever conceive and achieve.
Beyond the gilded cavernous marbled palace,
-Its crystal-chandeliers, its Hall of Mirrors,
Its room upon room of glory and wealth,
Its frescoed ceilings,
Its marbled-gloriousness of chapel,
Its grand staircases, its corridors of wealth
Garnered from those with much less-
Lie eight hundred acres of garden
Designed to demonstrate power over nature-
Planned, regular, controlled, mathematical,
Great straight lines of canals,
Clipped avenues of trees, manicured swathes of grass,
Bright glowing beds of flowers,
Sculptures classical and heroic
And everywhere a chorus of fountains
Displaying their bright sparkling dance.
Yet in the midst of all this vaingloriousness,
I think of his antithesis,
A man born to a modest family,
Who turned his back on possession and power,
Who owned nothing but the clothes he wore,
Whose wealth was his words
And the beauty of his character,
Who set his mind not on monuments and self
But on service and love
And his face not on glory
But the lonely, difficult path towards Jerusalem-
And thinking that such a man I can admire
And such a man I can deeply love
I turn back to the statues and paintings
Of the Sun King in mounted splendour,
The glory of his gardens, the wealth of his palace,
Believing that he is dust,
His crown long gone, his fleeting moment passed,
Whereas he who said
"Put not your trust in silver and gold"
Is Son and King, the first-born from the dead,
Glorious, the Prince of Peace,
And Reigns now from heaven above.