Lost in a doubt, Pelleas wandering Waited, until the third night brought a

moon With promise of large light on woods and


Hot was the night and silent; but a

sound Of Gawain ever coming, and this layWhich Pelleas had heard sung before the

Queen, And seen her sadden listening-vext his

heart, And marr'd his rest—'A worm within the


Hard by the gates. Wide open were the

gates, And no watch kept ; and in thro' these

he past, And heard but his own steps, and his own

heart Beating, for nothing moved but his own

self, And his own shadow. Then he crost the

court, And spied not any light in hall or bower, But saw the postern portal also wide Yawning ; and up a slope of garden, all Of roses white and red, and brambles mixt And overgrowing them, went on, and

found, Here too, all hush'd below the mellow

moon, Save that one rivulet from a tiny cave Came lightening downward, and so spilt

itself Among the roses, and was lost again.

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Then was he ware of three pavilions

reard Above the bushes, gilden-peakt: in one, Red after revel, droned her lurdane

knights Slumbering, and their three squires across

their feet : In one, their malice on the placid lip Froz’n by sweet sleep, four of her damsels

lay : And in the third, the circlet of the jousts Bound on her brow, were Gawain and


This tender rhyme, and evermore the

doubt, • Why lingers Gawain with his golden

news ?' So shook him that he could not rest, but

rode Ere midnight to her walls, and bound his


Back, as a hand that pushes thro' the

leaf To find a nest and feels a snake, he drew: Back, as a coward slinks from what he


Tocope with, or a traitor proven, or hound Beaten, did Pelleas in an utter shame Creep with his shadow thro' the court

again, Fingering at his sword-handle until he

stood There on the castle-bridge once more, and

thought, 'I will go back, and slay them where they



And so went back, and seeing them yet

in sleep Said, “Ye, that so dishallow the holy

sleep, Your sleep is death,' and drew the sword,

and thought, What! slay a sleeping knight? the King

hath bound And sworn me to this brotherhood;'

again, * Alas that ever a knight should be so

false.'' Then turn’d, and so return’d, and groan

ing laid The naked sword athwart their naked

throats, There left it, and them sleeping ; and she

Would they have risen against me in

their blood At the last day? I might have answer'd

them Even before high God. O towers so

strong, Huge, solid, would that even while I gaze The crack of earthquake shivering to your

base Split you, and Hell burst up your harlot

roofs Bellowing, and charr'd you thro’and thro'

within, Black as the harlot's heart-hollow as a

skull ! Let the fierce east scream thro' your eyelet

holes, And whirl the dust of harlots round and

round In dung and nettles ! hiss, snake- I saw

him thereLet the fox bark, let the wolf yell. Who

yells Here in the still sweet summer night, but

II, the poor Pelleas whom she call’d her

fool ? Fool, beast-he, she, or I? myself most

fool ; Beast too, as lacking human wit-dis

graced, Dishonour'd all for trial of true loveLove ?—we be all alike : only the King Hath made us fools and liars. O noble

vows ! O great and sane and simple race of brutes That own no lust because they have no

law! For why should I have loved her to my

shame? I loathe her, as I loved her to my shame. I never loved her, I but lusted for herAway


The circlet of the tourney round her

brows, And the sword of the tourney across her


And forth he past, and mounting on

his horse Stared at her towers that, larger than

themselves In their own darkness, throng'd into the

moon. Then crush'd the saddle with his thighs,

and clench'd His hands, and madden'd with himself

and moan'd :

He dash'd the rowel into his horse, And bounded forth and vanish'd thro' the


Then she, that felt the cold touch on

her throat, Awaking knew the sword, and turn'd

herself To Gawain: ‘Liar, for thou hast not slain This Pelleas ! here he stood, and might

have slain Me and thyself.' And he that tells the tale Says that her ever-veering fancy turn'd To Pelleas, as the one true knight on

earth, And only lover; and thro' her love her

Of seasons : hard his eyes ; harder his

heart Seem'd ; but so weary were his limbs,

that he, Gasping, Of Arthur's hall am I, but

here, Here let me rest and die,' cast himself

down, And gulr'd his griefs in inmost sleep; so

lay, Till shaken by a dream, that Gawain fired The hall of Merlin, and the morning star Reeld in the smoke, brake into flame,

and fell.


Wasted and pined, desiring him in vain.

He woke, and being ware of some one

nigh, Sent hands upon him, as to tear him,

crying, * False ! and I held thee pure as Guine


But Percivale stood near him and

replied, * Am I but false as Guinevere is pure ? Or art thou mazed with dreams ? or being

one Of our free-spoken Table hast not heard' That Lancelot '—there he check'd him

self and paused.

But he by wild and way, for half the

night, And over hard and soft, striking the sod From out the soft, the spark from off the

hard, Rode till the star above the wakening sun, Beside that tower where Percivale was

cowl'd, Glanced from the rosy forehead of the

dawn. For so the words were flash'd into his

heart He knew not whence or wherefore : '0

sweet star, Pure on the virgin forehead of the dawn!' And there he would have wept, but felt

his eyes Harder and drier than a fountain bed In summer : thither came the village girls And linger'd talking, and they come no

more Till the sweet heavens have fill'd it from

the heights Again with living waters in the change

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King true?' "The King !' said Percivale. hen let men couple at once with olves. ert thou mad ? .

But Pelleas, leaping up, the doors and vaulted on his rse : small pity upon his horse had

iself, or any, and when he met one that held a hand for almss he was, and like an old dwarf

And marvelling what it was : on whom

the boy, Across the silent seeded meadow-grass Borne, clash'd : and Lancelot, saying,

• What name hast thou That ridest here so blindly and so hard ?' 'I have no name,' he shouted, “a scourge

am 1, To lash the treasons of the Table Round.' • Yea, but thy name?' 'I have many

names,' he cried : 'I am wrath and shame and hate and evil

fame, And like a poisonous wind I pass to

blast And blaze the crime of Lancelot and the

Queen.' *First over me,' said Lancelot, 'shalt

thou pass. ‘Fight therefore, yell’d the other, and

either knight Drew back a space, and when they closed,

at once The weary steed of Pelleas floundering

fung His rider, who call'd out from the dark

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on the turning of the world, : common path: he twitch'd ins, is beast that better knew it,

I now on ; but when he saw aven the hall that Merlin

ainst the dead-green stripes

• Thou art false as Hell : slay me : I have

no sword.' . Then Lancelot, “ Yea, between thy lips

and sharp ; But here will I disedge it by thy death.' “Slay then,' he shriek'd, my will is to be

slain.' And Lancelot, with his heel upon the

fall'n, Rolling his eyes, a moment stood, then

spake : * Rise, weakling; I am Lancelot; say thy


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And Lancelot slowly rode his warhorse

irt, and gazing at a star





To Camelot, and Sir Pelleas in brief while Caught his unbroken limbs from the dark

field, And follow'd to the city. It chanced that

both Brake into hall together, worn and pale. There with her knights and dames was

Guinevere. Full wonderingly she gazed on Lancelot So soon return'd, and then on Pelleas,

him Who had not greeted her, but cast him

self Down on a bench, hard-breathing. 'Have

ye fought ?' She ask'd of Lancelot. “Ay, my Queen,'

he said. · And thou hast overthrown him ?' • Ay,

my Queen.' Then she, turning to Pelleas, O young

knight, Hath the great heart of knighthood in

thee fail'd So far thou canst not bide, unfrowardly, A fall from him ?' Then, for he answer'd

DAGONET, the fool, whom Gawain in his

mood Had made mock-knight of Arthur's

Table Round, At Camelot, high above the yellowing

woods, Danced like a wither'd leaf before the hall. And toward him from the hall, with harp

in hand, And from the crown thereof a carcanet Of ruby swaying to and fro, the prize Of Tristram in the jousts of yesterday, Came Tristram, saying, Why skip ye

so, Sir Fool?'


Or hast thou other griefs? If I, the

Queen, May help them, loose thy tongue, and let

me know.' But Pelleas lifted up an eye so fierce She quail'd ; and he, hissing 'I have no

sword,' Sprang from the door into the dark.

The Queen Look'd hard upon her lover, he on her ; And each foresaw the dolorous day to

be : And all talk died, as in a grove all song Beneath the shadow of some bird of prey; Then a long silence came upon the hall, And Modred thought, “The time is hard

at hand.'

For Arthur and Sir Lancelot riding once Far down beneath a winding wall of rock Heard a child wail. A stump of oak

half-dead, From roots like some black coil of carven

snakes, Clutch'd at the crag, and started thro'

mid air Bearing an eagle's nest : and thro' the tree Rush'd ever a rainy wind, and thro’ the

wind Pierced ever a child's cry : and crag and

tree Scaling, Sir Lancelot from the perilous

nest, This ruby necklace thrice around her neck, And all unscarr'd from beak or talon,

brought A maiden babe ; which Arthur pitying

took, Then gave it to his Queen to rear : the

Cueen But coldly acquiescing, in her white arms Received, and after loved it tenderly, And named it Nestling so forgot herself

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