Not ever to be question'd any more
Save on the further side ; but when I met
Merlin, and ask'd him if these things were

The shining dragon and the naked child
Descending in the glory of the seas
He laugh'd as is his wont, and answer'd

me In riddling triplets of old time, and said :

Then from the castle gateway by the

chasm Descending thro' the dismal night-a

night In which the bounds of heaven and earth

were lost Beheld, so high upon the dreary deeps It seem'd in heaven, a ship, the shape

A dragon wing'd, and all from stem to

Bright with a shining people on the decks,
And gone as soon as seen. And then the two
Dropt to the cove, and watch'd the great

sea fall,
Wave after wave, each mightier than the

last, Till last, a ninth one, gathering half the

deep And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame: And down the wave and in the flame was

borne A naked babe, and rode to Merlin's feet, Who stoopt and caught the babe, and

cried “ The King ! Here is an heir for Uther !” And the

Of that great breaker, sweeping up the

Lash'd at the wizard as he spake the word,
And all at once all round him rose in fire,
So that the child and he were clothed in

And presently thereafter follow'd calm,
Free sky and stars : “And this same

child,” he said,
“Is he who reigns ; nor could I part in

Till this were told.” And saying this the

seer Went thro' the strait and dreadful pass of


"“Rain, rain, and sun ! a rainbow in

the sky! A young man will be wiser by and by ; An old man's wit may wander ere he die. Rain, rain, and sun ! a rainbow on the

lea! And truth is this to me, and that to thee; And truth or clothed or naked let it be. Rain, sun, and rain ! and the free

blossom blows : Sun, rain, and sun ! and where is he

who knows? From the great deep to the great deep he

[ocr errors]

"So Merlin riddling anger'd me; but

thou Fear not to give this King thine only child, Guinevere : so great bards of him will sing Hereafter ; and dark sayings from of old Ranging and ringing thro' the minds of

men, And echo'd by old folk beside their fires For comfort after their wage-work is done, Speak of the King; and Merlin in our

time Hath spoken also, not in jest, and sworn Tho' men may wound him that he will

not die, But pass, again to come ; and then or now Utterly smite the heathen underfoot, Till these and all men hail him for their


She spake and King Leodogran re

joiced, But musing ‘Shall I answer yea or nay?' Doubted, and drowsed, nodded and slept,

and saw, Dreaming, a slope of land that ever grew, Field after field, up to a height, the peak Haze-hidden, and thereon a phantom

king, Now looming, and now lost; and on the

slope The sword rose, the hind fell, the herd

was driven, Fire glimpsed ; and all the land from roof

and rick, In drifts of smoke before a rolling wind, Stream'd to the peak, and mingled with

the haze And made it thicker ; while the phantom

king Sent out at times a voice; and here or

there Stood, one who pointed toward the voice,

the rest Slew on and burnt, crying, 'No king of

ours, No son of Uther, and no king of ours;' Till with a wink his dream was changed,

the haze Descended, and the solid earth became As nothing, but the King stood out in

heaven, Crown'd. And Leodogran awoke, and

sent Ulfius, and Brastias and Bedivere, Back to the court of Arthur answering yea.

And Lancelot past away among the

flowers, (For then was latter April) and return'd Among the flowers, in May, with Guine

vere. To whom arrived, by Dubric the high

saint, Chief of the church in Britain, and before The stateliest of her altar-shrines, the

King That morn was married, while in stainless

white, The fair beginners of a nobler time, And glorying in their vows and him, his

knights Stood round him, and rejoicing in his joy. Far shone the fields of May thro' open

door, The sacred altar blossom'd white with May, The Sun of May descended on their King, They gazed on all earth’s beauty in their

Queen, Roll'd incense, and there past along the

hymns A voice as of the waters, while the two Sware at the shrine of Christ a deathless

love : And Arthur said, “Behold, thy doom is

mine. Let chance what will, I love thee to the

death!' To whom the Queen replied with droop

ing eyes, • King and my lord, I love thee to the

death!' And holy Dubric spread his hands and

spake, Reign ye, and live and love, and make

the world Other, and may thy Queen be one with

thee, And all this Order of thy Table Round Fulfil the boundless purpose of their King

Then Arthur charged his warrior whom

he loved And honour'd most, Sir Lancelot, to ride

forth And bring the Queen ;-and watch'd him

from the gates :

The King is King, and ever wills the

highest. Clang battleaxe, and clash brand ! Let

the King reign.

So Dubric said ; but when they left the

shrine Great Lords from Rome before the portal

stood, In scornful stillness gazing as they

past; Then while they paced a city all on

fire With sun and cloth of gold, the trumpets

blew, And Arthur's knighthood sang before the

King :

• Blow, for our Sun is mighty in his

May ! Blow, for our Sun is mightier day by day! Clang battleaxe, and clash brand ! Let

the King reign.

Blow trumpet, for the world is white

with May ; Blow trumpet, the long night hath roll’d

away! Blow thro' the living world—“Let the

King reign."

"The King will follow Christ, and we

the King In whom high God hath breathed a secret

thing. Fall battleaxe, and flash brand ! Let

the King reign.'

"Shall Rome or Heathen rule in

Arthur's realm? Flash brand and lance, fall battleaxe upon

helm, Fall battleaxe, and flash brand ! Let the

King reign.

So sang the knighthood, moving to

their hall. There at the banquet those great Lords

from Rome, The slowly-fading mistress of the world, Strode in, and claim'd their tribute as of

yore. But Arthur spake, “Behold, for these have

sworn To wage my wars, and worship me their

King ; The old order changeth, yielding place

to new ; And we that fight for our fair father Christ, Seeing that ye be grown too weak and

‘Strike for the King and live ! his

knights have heard That God hath told the King a secret

word. Fall battleaxe, and flash brand ! Let the

King reign.


· Blow trumpet ! he will lift us from

the dust. Blow trumpet ! live the strength and die

the lust! Clang battleaxe, and clash brand ! Let

the King reign.

To drive the heathen from your Roman

wall, No tribute will we pay : ' so those great

lords Draw back in wrath, and Arthur strove

with Rome.

• Strike for the King and die ! and if

thou diest,

And Arthur and his knighthood for a


[blocks in formation]


The last tall son of Lot and Bellicent,
And tallest, Gareth, in a showerful spring
Stared at the spate. A slender-shafted

Lost footing, fell, and so was whirld

*How he went down,' said Gareth, as

a false knight Or evil king before my lance if lance Were mine to use–O senseless cataract, Bearing all down in thy precipitancyAnd yet thou art but swollen with cold

snows And mine is living blood : thou dost His

will, The Maker's, and not knowest, and I

that know, Have strength and wit, in my good

mother's hall Linger with vacillating obedience, Prison'd, and kept and coax'd and

whistled toSince the good mother holds me still a

child ! Good mother is bad mother unto me! A worse were better ; yet no worse

would I. Heaven yield her for it, but in me put


To weary her ears with one continuous


she let me fly discaged to sweep In ever-highering eagle-circles up To the great Sun of Glory, and thence

swoop Down upon all things base, and dash

them dead, A knight of Arthur, working out his will, To cleanse the world. Why, Gawain,

when he came With Modred hither in the summertime, Ask'd me to tilt with him, the proven

knight. Modred for want of worthier was the

judge. Then I so shook him in the saddle, he

said, “ Thou hast half prevail'd against me,”

said so-heTho'Modred biting his thin lips was mute, For he is alway sullen : what care I ?'

And Gareth went, and hovering round

her chair Ask’d, “Mother, tho' ye count me still

the child, Sweet mother, do ye love the child ?'

She laugh'd, “Thou art but a wild-goose to question


* Then, mother, an ye love the child,' he

said, 'Being a goose and rather tame than wild, Hear the child's story.' “Yea, my well

beloved, An 'twere but of the goose and golden


Gold ? said I gold ?-ay then, why he,

or she, Or whosoe'er it was, or half the world Had ventured-had the thing I spake of

been Mere gold—but this was all of that true

steel, Whereof they forged the brand Excalibur, And lightnings play'd about it in the

storm, And all the little fowl were flurried at it, And there were cries and clashings in the

nest, That sent him from his senses : let me go.'

And Gareth answer'd her with kindling

eyes, Nay, nay, good mother, but this egg of

mine Was finer gold than any goose can lay ; For this an Eagle, a royal Eagle, laid Almost beyond eye-reach, on such a palm As glitters gilded in thy Book of Hours. And there was ever haunting round the

palm A lusty youth, but poor, who often saw The splendour sparkling from aloft, and

thought “An I could climb and lay my hand upon it, Then were I wealthier than a leash of

kings.” But ever when he reach'd a hand to climb, One, that had loved him from his child.

hood, caught And stay'd him, “Climb not lest thou

break thy neck, I charge thee by my love,” and so the boy, Sweet mother, neither clomb, nor brake

his neck, But brake his very heart in pining for it, And past away.

Then Bellicent bemoan'd herself and

said, *Hast thou no pity upon my loneliness? Lo, where thy father Lot beside the hearth Lies like a log, and all but smoulder'd out ! For ever since when traitor to the King He fought against him in the Barons' war, And Arthur gave him back his territory, His age hath slowly droopt, and now lies

there A yet-warm corpse, and yet unburiable, No more ; nor sees, nor hears, nor speaks,

nor knows. And both thy brethren are in Arthur's hall, Albeit neither loved with that full love I feel for thee, nor worthy such a love : Stay therefore thou ; red berries charm

the bird, And thee, mine innocent, the jousts, the

wars, Who never knewest finger-ache, nor pang Of wrench'd or broken limb-an often

chance In those brain-stunning shocks, and

tourney-falls, Frights to my heart ; but stay : follow

the deer By these tall firs and our fast-falling burns;

To whom the mother said, ‘True love, sweet son, had risk'd himself

and climbid, And handed down the golden treasure to


And Gareth answer'd her with kindling


« ElőzőTovább »