Who seem'd the phantom of a Giant in it, Enwound him fold by fold, and made him

gray And grayer, till himself became as mist Before her, moving ghostlike to his doom.

Except he mock'd me when he spake of

hope ; His hope he call'd it; but he never mocks, For mockery is the fume of little hearts. And blessed be the King, who hath for


Then she stretch'd out her arms and

cried aloud "Oh Arthur !' there her voice brake

suddenly, Then-as a stream that spouting from a

cliff Fails in mid air, but gathering at the base Re-makes itself, and flashes down the

vale Went on in passionate utterance :

My wickedness to him, and left me hope That in mine own heart I can live down

sin And be his mate hereafter in the heavens Before high God. Ah great and gentle

lord, Who wast, as is the conscience of a saint Among his warring senses, to thy

knightsTo whom my false voluptuous pride, that

took Full easily all impressions from below, Would not look up, or half-despised the

height To which I would not or I could not

climbI thought I could not breathe in that fine


‘Gone—my lord ! Gone thro' my sin to slay and to be slain ! And he forgave me, and I could not speak. Farewell? I should have answer'd his

farewell. His mercy choked me. Gone, my lord

the King, My own true lord ! how dare I call him

mine? The shadow of another cleaves to me, And makes me one pollution : he, the

King, Call’d me polluted : shall I kill myself ? What help in that? I cannot kill my sin, If soul be soul ; nor can I kill my shame; No, nor by living can I live it down. The days will grow to weeks, the weeks

to months, The months will add themselves and make

the years, The years will roll into the centuries, And mine will ever be a name of scorn. I must not dwell on that defeat of fame. Let the world be ; that is but of the world What else? what hope? I think there was

a hope,

That pure severity of perfect light
I wanted warmth and colour which I

found In Lancelot-now I see thee what thou

art, Thou art the highest and most human too, Not Lancelot, nor another. Is there

none Will tell the King I love him tho' so late? Now—ere he goes to the great Battle ?

none : Myself must tell him in that purer life, But now it were too daring. Ah my

God, What might I not have made of thy fair

world, Had I but loved thy highest creature

here? It was my duty to have loved the highest :

y was my profit had I known : ld have been my pleasure had I seen. :ds must love the highest when we see it, ncelot, nor another.'

Here her hand l, made her vail her eyes : she look'd and saw vice, weeping, suppliant, and said to her, ittle maid, for am I not forgiven ? ' lancing up beheld the holy nuns ind her, weeping; and her heart was loosed

her, and she wept with these and said,

Fast with your fasts, not feasting with

your feasts; Grieve with your griefs, not grieving at

your joys, But not rejoicing ; mingle with your rites ; Pray and be pray'd for; lie before your

shrines ; Do each low office of your holy house; Walk your dim cloister, and distribute dole To poor sick people, richer in His eyes Who ransom'd us, and haler too than I ; And treat their loathsome hurts and heal

mine own; And so wear out in almsdeed and in prayer The sombre close of that voluptuous day, Which wrought the ruin of my lord the


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story which the bold Sir Bedivere, made and latest left of all the knights, when the man was no more than a voice : white winter of his age, to those

For on their march to westward,

Bedivere, Who slowly paced among the slumbering


Heard in his tent the moanings of the

King :

"I found Him in the shining of the stars, I mark'd Him in the flowering of His

But in His ways with men I find Him not.
I waged His wars, and now I pass and die.
O me! for why is all around us here
As if some lesser god had made the world,
But had not force to shape it as he would,
Till the High God behold it from beyond,
And enter it, and make it beautiful ?
Or else as if the world were wholly fair,

But that these eyes of men are dense and ...no. , £įm,

And have not power to see it as it is :
Perchance, because we see not to the

close ;
For I, being simple, thought to work His

Farewell ! there is an isle of rest for thee. And I am blown along a wandering wind, And hollow, hollow, hollow all delight.' And fainter onward, like wild birds that

change Their season in the night and wail their

way From cloud to cloud, down the long wind

the dream Shrill’d; but in going mingled with dim

cries Far in the moonlit haze among the hills, As of some lonely city sack'd by night, When all is lost, and wife and child with

wail Pass to new lords ; and Arthur woke and

call’d, • Who spake? A dream. O light upon

the wind, Thine, Gawain, was the voice-are these

dim cries Thine ? or doth all that haunts the waste

and wild Mourn, knowing it will go along with me?'


And have but stricken with the sword in

vain ; And all whereon I lean'd in wife and

friend Is traitor to my peace, and all my realm Reels back into the beast, and is no more. My God, thou hast forgotten me in my

death : Nay-God my Christ-I pass but shall

not die.'

Then, ere that last weird battle in the

west, There came on Arthur sleeping, Gawain

kill'd In Lancelot's war, the ghost of Gawain

blown Along a wandering wind, and past his ear Went shrilling, ‘Hollow, hollow all

delight ! Hail, King ! to-morrow thou shalt pass


This heard the bold Sir Bedivere and

spake : O me, my King, let pass whatever will, Elves, and the harmless glamour of the

field; But in their stead thy name and glory cling To all high places like a golden cloud For ever : but as yet thou shalt not pass. Light was Gawain in life, and light in

death Is Gawain, for the ghost is as the man; And care not thou for dreams from him,

but riseI hear the steps of Modred in the west, And with him many of thy people, and

knights Once thine, whom thou hast loved, but

grosser grown

Than heathen, spitting at their vows and

thee. Right well in heart they know thee for

the King. Arise, go forth and conquer as of old.'

Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere: *Far other is this battle in the west Whereto we move, than when we strove

in youth, And brake the petty kings, and fought

with Rome, Or thrust the heathen from the Roman

wall, And shook him thro' the north. Ill doom

is mine To war against my people and my knights. The king who fights his people fights him

self. And they my knights, who loved me once,

the stroke That strikes them dead is as my death to

me. Yet let us hence, and find or feel a way Thro' this blind haze, which ever since I

saw One lying in the dust at Almesbury, Hath folded in the passes of the world.'

And there, that day when the great light

of heaven Burn'd at his lowest in the rolling year, On the waste sand by the waste sea they

closed. Nor ever yet had Arthur fought a fight Like this last, dim, weird battle of the

west. A deathwhite mist slept over sand and

sea : Whereof the chill, to him who breathed

it, drew Down with k: Flood, till all his heart was

cold With formless fear; and ev'n on Arthur

fell Confusion, : ce he saw nc. whoin hu

fought. For friend and foe were shadows in the

mist, And friend slew friend not knowing whom

he slew ; And some had visions out of golden

youth, And some beheld the faces of old ghosts Look in upon the battle ; and in the mist Was many a noble deed, many a base, And chance and craft and strength in

single fights, And ever and anon with host to host Shocks, and the splintering spear, the

hard mail hewn, Shield-breakings, and the clash of brands,

the crash Of battleaxes on shatter'd helms, and

shrieks After the Christ, of those who falling down Look'd up for heaven, and only saw the

mist; And shouts of heathen and the traitor

knights, Oaths, insult, filth, and monstrous blas


Then rose the King and moved his host

by night, And ever push'd Sir Modred, league by

league, Back to the sunset bound of LyonnesseA land of old upheaven from the abyss By fire, to sink into the abyss again ; Where fragments of forgotten peoples

dwelt, And the long mountains ended in a coast Of ever-shifting sand, and far away The phantom circle of a moaning sea. There the pursuer could pursue no more, And he that fled no further fly the King ;

Sweat, writhings, anguish, labouring of

the lungs In that close mist, and cryings for the

light, Moans of the dying, and voices of the


My dead, as tho' they had not died for

me?O Bedivere, for on my heart hath fall'n Confusion, till I know not what I am, Nor whence I am, nor whether I be King. Behold, I seem but King among the dead.'

Last, as by someone deathbed after wail Of suffering, silence follows, or thro' death Or deathlike swoon, thus over all that

shore, Save for some whisper of the seething seas, A dead hush fell ; but when the dolorous

Then spake the bold Sir Bedivere :

My King, King everywhere ! and so the dead have

kings, There also will I worship thee as King. Yet still thy life is whole, and still I live Who love thee ; but who hates thee, he

that brought The heathen back among us, yonder

stands, Modred, unharm'd, the traitor of thine



Grew drearier toward twilight falling,

came A bitter wind, clear from the North, and

blew The mist aside, and with that wind the tide Rose, and the pale King glanced across

the field Of battle : but no man was moving there; Nor any cry of Christian heard thereon, Nor yet of heathen ; only the wan wave Brake in among dead faces, to and fro Swaying the helpless hands, and up and

down Tumbling the hollow helmets of the

fallen, And shiver'd brands that once had fought

with Rome, And rolling far along the gloomy shores The voice of days of old and days to be.

Then spake the King : “My house hath

been my doom. But call not thou this traitor of my house Who hath but dwelt beneath one roof with

me. My house are rather they who sware my

vows, Yea, even while they brake them, own'd

me King. And well for thee, saying in my dark hour, When all the purport of my throne hath

fail'd, That quick or dead thou holdest me for

King. King am I, whatsoever be their cry; And one last act of kinghood shalt thou

see Yet, ere I pass.' And uttering this the

King Made at the man : then Modred smote

his liege Hard on that helm which many a heathen


Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere, And whiter than the mist that all day long Had held the field of battle was the King :

• Hearest thou this great voice that

shakes the world, And wastes the narrow realm whereon we

move, And beats upon the faces of the dead,

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