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A stone is flung into some sleeping tarn,
For Arthur, loving his young knight, withheld The circle widens till it lip the marge,
His older and his mightier from the lists, Spread the slow smile thro' all her company. That Pelleas might obtain his lady's love, Three knights were thereamong; and they too According to her promise, and remain smiled,
Lord of the tourney. And Arthur had the jousts Scorning bim; for the lady was Ettarre,
Down in the flat field by the shore of Usk And she was a great lady in her land.
Holden: the gilded parapets were crown'd
With faces, and the great tower fillid with eyes Again she said, "O wild and of the woods, Up to the summit, and the trumpets blew. Knowest thou not the fashion of our speech ? There all day long Sir Pelleas kept the field Or have the Heavens but given thee a fair face, With honor : so by that strong hand of his Lacking a tongue ?"
The sword and golden circlet were achieved.
"O damsel," answer'd he, Then rang the shout his lady loved : the heat “I woke from dreams; and coming out of gloom or pride and glory fired her face: her eye Was dazzled by the sudden light, and crave Sparkled; she caught the circlet from his lance, Pardon : bat will ye to Caerleon! I
And there before the people crown'd herself: Go likewise : shall I lead you to the King " So for the last time she was gracious to him. "Lead then,” she said; and thro' the woods they Then at Caerleon for a space-her look went.
Bright for all others, cloudier on her knightAnd while they rode, the meaning in his eyes, Liuger'd Ettarre: and seeing Pelleas droop, llis tenderness of manner, and chaste awe,
Said Guinevere, “We marvel at thee much,
O damsel, wearing this ansunny face
“Had ye not held your Lancelot in your bower, Raw, yet so stale !" But since her mind was bent My Queen, he had not won.” Whereat the Queen, On hearing, after trumpet blown, her name
As one whose foot is bitten by an ant, And title, “Queen of Beauty,” in the lists
Glanced down upon her, turn’d and went her way. Cried-and beholding him so strong, she thought That peradventure be will fight for me,
But after, when her damsels and herself, And win the circlet: therefore flatter'd him,
And those three knights all set their faces home, Being so gracious, that he welluigh deem'd
Sir Pelleas follow'd. She that saw bim cried, His wish by hers was echo'd ; and her knights “Damsels-and yet I should be shamed to say it And all her damsels too were gracious to him, I cannot bide Sir Baby. Keep him back For she was a great lady.
Among yourselves. Would rather that we had
Some rough old knight who knew the worldly way.
And when they reach'd Albeit grizzlier than a bear, to ride Caerleon, ere they past to lodging, she,
Aud jest with : take him to you, keep him off, Taking his hand, "O the strong band," she said, And pamper him with papmeat, if ye will, "See ! look at mine! but wilt thou tight for me, Old milky fables of the wolf and sheep, And win me this fine circlet, Pelleas,
Such as the wholesome mothers tell their boys. That I may love thee ?”
Nay, should ye try him with a merry one
To find his mettle, good : and if he fly us, Then his helpless heart Small matter! let him.” This her damsels heard, Leapt, and he cried, “Ay! wilt thou if I win ?" And mindful of her small and cruel hand, “Ay, that will I," she answer'd, and she laugh’d, They, closing round him thro' the journey home, And straitly nipt the hand, and flung it from her ; Acted her hest, and always from her side Then glanced askew at those three knights of hers, Restrain'd him with all manner of device, Till all her ladies laugh'd along with her.
So that he could not come to speak with her.
And when she gain'd her castle, upsprang the bridge, "O happy world,” thought Pelleas, "all, meseems, Down rang the grate of iron thro' the groove, Are happy; I the happiest of them all."
And he was left alone in open field. Nor slept that night for pleasure in his blood, And green wood-ways, and eyes among the leaves ; “These be the ways of ladies,” Pelleas thought, Then being on the morrow knighted, sware
“To those who love them, trials of our faith. To love one only. And as he came away,
Yea, let her prove me to the uttermost,
So made his moan; and, darkness falling, sought Shone like the countenance of a priest of old A priory not far off, there lodged, but rose Against the flame about a sacrifice
With morning every day, and, moist or dry, Kindled by fire from heaven: so glad was he. Full-arm'd upon his charger all day long
Sat by the walls, and no one open'd to him. Then Arthur made vast banquets, and strange knights
And this persistence turn'd her scorn to wrath. From the four winds came in: and each one sat, Then calling her three knights, she charged them, Tho' served with choice from air, land, stream, and “Out! sea,
And drive him from the walls." And out they came,
But still he kept his watch beneath the wall.
With her three knights, she pointed downward,
“Look, Then bluslı'd and brake the morning of the jouste, He haunts me–I cannot breathe-besieges me ; And this was call'd "The Tournament of Youth :" Down! strike him! put my hate into your strokes,
And drive him from my walls.” And down they went, | I loved you and I deem'd you beautiful,
I cannot brook to see your beauty marr'd
I cannot bear to dream you so forsworn :
I had liefer ye were worthy of my love,
He heard her voice; Than to be loved again of you-farewell ; Then let the strong hand, which had overthrown And tho' ye kill my hope, not yet my love, Her minion-knights, by those he overthrew
Vex not yourself: ye will not see me more." Be bounden straight, and so they brought him in.
While thus he spake, she gazed upon the man Then when he came before Ettarre, the sight or princely bearing, tho' in bonds, and thought, or her rich beauty made him at one glance
Why have I push'd him from me! this man loves, More bondsman in his heart than in his bonds. If love there be: yet him I loved pot. Why? Yet with good cheer he spake, “Behold me, Lady, I deem'd him fool? yea, so ? or that in him A prisoner, and the vassal of thy will;
A something-was it nobler than myself?-And if thon keep me in thy donjon here,
Seem'd my reproach ? He is not of my kind. Content am I so that I see thy face
He could not love me, did he know me well. But once a day: for I have sworn my vows, Nay, let him go—and quickly." And her knights And thou hast given thy promise, avd I know Langh'd not, but thrust him bounden out of door. That all these pains are trials of my faith, And that thyself when thou hast seen me straiu'd Forth sprang Gawain, and loosed him from bis And sifted to the utmost, wilt at length
bonds Yield me thy love and know me for thy knight.” And fluog them o'er the walls; and afterward,
Shaking his hands, as from a lazar's rag, Then she began to rail so bitterly,
“Faith of my body," he said, “and art thou not With all her damsels, he was stricken mute; Yen, thou art he, whom late our Arthur made But when she mock'd his vows and the great King, Knight of his Table; yea and he that won Lighted on words: "For pity of thine owu self, The circlet? wherefore bast thou so defamed Pence, Lady, peace: is he not thine and mine ?" Thy brotherhood in me and all the rest,
As let these caitiffs on thee work their will ?" “Thou fool," she said, “I nerer heard his voice But long'd to break away. Unbiud him now, And Pelleas answer'd, “Oh, their wills are hers And thrust him out of doors; for save he be For whom I won the circlet; and mine, hers, Fool to the midmost marrow of his bones,
Thus to be bounden, so to see her face, He will returu no more." And those, her three, Marr'd tho' it be with spite and mockery now, Langh'd, and unbound, and thrust him from the Other than when I found her in the woods; gate.
And thu' she hath me bounden but in spite,
And all to flout me, when they bring me in,
Let me be bounden, I shall see her face ;
And Gawaiu answer'd kindly tho' in scorn, Ye kuow yourselves : how can ye bide at peace, “Why, let my lady bind me if she will, Affronted with his fulsome innocence ?
And let my lady beat me if she will: Are ye but creatures of the board and bed, But an she send her delegate to thrall No men to strike? Fall on him all at once, These fighting hauds of mine-Christ kill me then And if ye slay him I reck not: if ye fail,
But I will slice him handless by the wrist, Give ye the slave mine order to be bound,
And let my lady sear the stump for him, Bind him as heretofore, and bring him in :
Howl as he may. But hold me for your friend : It may be ye shall slay him in his bonds."
Come, ye know yothing: here I pledge my troth,
Yen, by the houor of the Table Round, She spake; and at her will they couch'd their I will be leal to thee and work thy work, spears,
Aud tame thy jailing princess to thine hand. Three against one: and Gawain passing by, Lend me thine horse and arms, and I will say Bound upon solitary adventure, saw
That I have slain thee. She will let me in Low down beneath the shadow of those towers To hear the manner of thy fight and fall; A villainy, three to one: and thro' his heart Then, when I come within her counsels, then The fire of honor and all noble deeds
From prime to vespers will I chant thy praise Flash'd, and he callid, “I strike upon thy side- As prowest knight and truest lover, more The caitiffs !” “Nay," said Pelleas, “but forbear ; Than any have sung thee living, till she long He needs no aid who doth his lady's will."
To have thee back in lusty life again,
Not to be bound, save by white bonds and warm, So Gawain, looking at the villainy done,
Dearer than freedom. Wherefore now thy horse Forbore, but in his heat and engerness
And armor: let me go: be comforted : Trembled and quiver'd, as the dog, withheld Give me three days to melt her fancy, and hope A moment from the vermin that he sees
The third night hence will bring thee news of gold.' Before him, shivers, ere he springs and kills.
Then Pelleas lent his horse and all his arms, And Pelleas overthrew them, one to three ; Saving the goodly sword, his prize, and took Avd they rose up, and bound, and brought him in. Gawain's, and said, “ Betray me not, but helpThen first her anger, leaving Pelleas, burn'd Art thou not he whom men call light-of-love ?" Full on her knights in many an evil name of craven, weakling, and thrice-beaten hound: “Ay," said Gawain, "for women be so light." “Yet, take him, ye that scarce are fit to tonch, Then bonnded forward to the castle walls, Far less to bind, your victor, and thrust him out, And raised a bugle hanging from his neck, And let who will release him from his bonds, And winded it, and that so musically And if he comes again—" There she brake short ; That all the old echoes hidden in the wall And Pelleas answer'd, "Lady, for indeed
Rang out like hollow woods at huntingtide.
Up ran a score of damsels to the tower;
To find a nest and feels a snake, he drew: "Avaunt," they cried, “our lady loves thee not." Back, as a coward slinks from what he fears But Gawain lifting up his vizor said,
To cope with, or a traitor proven, or hound “Gawain am I, Gawain of Arthur's court,
Beaten, did Pelleas in an atter shame
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 lie.”
And down they ran, Her damsels, crying to their lady, “Lo!
And so went back, and seeing them yet in sleep Pellens is dead-he told us-be that hath
Said, “Ye, that so dishallow the holy sleep, His horse and armor: will ye let him iu ?
Your sleep is death," and drew the sword, and He slew him! Gawain, Gawain of the court,
thought, Sir Gawain-there be waits below the wall,
“What! slay a sleeping kuight? the King hath Blowing his bugle as who should say him vay."
And sworn me to this brotherhood;" again, And so, leave given, straight on thro' open door “Alas that ever a knight should be so false !" Rode Gawain, whom she greeted courteously. Then turn'd, and so return'd, and groaping laid ** Dead, is it so !" she ask'd. "Ay, ay," said he, The naked sword athwart their naked throats, "And oft in dying cried mpon your name."
There left it, and them sleeping; and she lay, "Pity on him," she answer'd, “a good knight, The circlet of the tourney round her brows, But never let me bide one hour at peace."
And the sword of the tonrney across her throat. “Ay," thought Gawain," and you be fair enow: But I to your dead man have given my troth, And forth he past, and mounting on his horse That whom ye loathe, him will I make you love." Stared at her towers that, larger than themselves
In their own darkness, throng'd into the moon. So those three days, aimless about the land, Then crush'd the saddle with his thighs, and clench'd Lost in a doubt, Pelleas wandering
His bands, and madden'd with himself and moan'd: Waited, until the third night brought a moon With promise of large light on woods and ways. “Would they bave risen against me in their blood
At the last day? I might have answer'd them Hot was the night and silent; but a sound Even before high God. O towers so strong, or Gawain ever coming, and this lay
Hnge, solid, would that even while I gaze Which Pelleas had heard sung before the Queen, The crack of earthquake shivering to your base And seen her sadden listening-vext his heart, Split you, and Hell burst up your harlot roofs And marr'd his rest-"A worm within the rose." Bellowing, and charr'd you thro' and thro' within,
Black as the barlot's heart-hollow as a skull! “A rose, but one, none other rose bad I,
Let the fierce east scream thro' your eyelet-holes, A rose, one rose, and this was wondrons fair, And whirl the dust of harlots round and round One rose, a rose that gladden'd earth and sky, In dung and nettles! hiss, snake-I saw him there One rose, my rose, that sweeten'd all mine air- Let the fox bark, let the wolf yell. Who yells I cared not for the thorns; the thorns were there. Here in the still sweet summer night, but I
I, the poor Pelleas whom she call'd her fool! “One rose, a rose to gather by and by,
Fool, beast-lie, she, or I? myself moet fool; One rose, one rose, to gather and to wear,
Beast too, as lacking human wit-disgraced, No rose but one-what other rose had I?
Dishonor'd all for trial of true loveOne rose, my rose; a rose that will not die
Love !-we be all alike: only the King He dies who loves it-if the worm be there." Hath made us fools and liars. O poble vows !
O great and sane and simple race of brntes This tender rhyme, and evermore the doubt, That own no last becanse they have no law! “Why lingers Gawain with his golden news ?" For why should I have loved her to my shame? So shook him that he could not rest, but rode I loathe her, as I loved her to my shame. Ere midnight to her walls, and bound his horse I never loved her, I but lasted for herHard by the gates. Wide open were the gates, Away-" And no watch kept; and in thro' these he past, And heard but his own steps, and his own heart
He dash'd the rowel into his horse, Beating, for nothing moved but his own self, And bounded forth and vanish'd thro' the night. And his own shadow. Then he crost the court, And spied not any light in hall or bower,
Then she, that felt the cold tonch on her throat, But saw the postern portal also wide
Awaking kuew the sword, and turn'd herself Yawning; and up a slope of garden, all
To Gawain : "Liar, for thon hast not slain of roses white and red, and brambles mixt
This Pelleas ! here he stood, and might have slain And overgrowing them, went on, and found, Me and thyself." And he that tells the tale Here too, all hush'd below the mellow moon, Says that her ever-veering fancy turn'd Save that one rivulet from a tiny cave
To Pelleas, as the one true knight on earth, Came lightening downward, and so spilt itself And only lover; and thro' her love her life Among the roses, and was lost again.
Wasted and pined, desiring him in vain. Then was he ware of three pavilions reard But he by wild and way, for half the night, Above the bushes, gilden-peakt: in one,
And over bard and soft, striking the sod Red after revel, droned her lurdane kuights
From out the soft, the spark from off the hard, Slumbering, and their three squires across their feet: Rode till the star above the wakening sun, In one, their malice on the placid lip
Beside that tower where Percivale was cowl'd, Froz’n hy sweet sleep, four of her damsels lay: Glanced from the rosy forehead of the dawn. And in the third, the circlet of the jousts
For so the words were flash'd into his heart Bound on her brow, were Gawain and Ettarre. He knew not whence or wherefore: "O sweet star,
Pure on the virgin forehead of the dawn !" Back, as a hand that pushes thro' the leaf And there he wonld have wept, but felt his eyes
Harder and drier than a fountain bed
“Slay then,” he shriek'd, “my will is to be slain." In summer: thither came the village girls
And Lancelot, with his heel upon the fall'o), Aud linger'd talking, and they come no more Rolling his eyes, a moment stood, then spake: Till the sweet heavens have fill'd it from the heights “Rise, weakling: I am Lancelot; say thy say.” Again with living waters in the change Of seasons: hard his eyes; harder his heart
And Lancelot slowly rode his warhorse back Seem'd; but so weary were his limbs, that he, To Camelot, and Sir Pelleas in brief while Gasping, “Of Arthur's hall am I, but here,
Caught his unbroken limbs from the dark field, Here let me rest and die," cast himself down, And follow'd to the city. It chanced that both And gulf'd his griefs in inmost sleep; so lay, Brake into hall together, worn and pale. Till shaken by a dream, that Gawain fired
There with her knights and dames was Guinevere. The hall of Merlin, and the morning star
Full wonderingly she gazed on Lancelot Reel'd in the smoke, brake into flame, and fell. So soon return'd, and then on Pelleas, him
Who had not greeted her, but cast himself He woke, and being ware of some one nigh, Down on a bench, hard - breathing.
“Have ye Sent hands upon him, as to tear him, crying,
fought ?" “False! I held thee as pure as Guinevere." She ask'd of Lancelot. “Ay, my Queen," he said.
"And thou hast overthrown him!” “Ay, my Queen." But Percivale stood near him and replied, Then she, turving to Pelleas, “O young knight, "Am I but false as Guinevere is pure ?
Hath the great heart of knighthood in thee fail'd Or art thou mazed with dreams! or being one So far thou canst not bide, unfrowardly, of our free-spoken Table bast not heard
A fall from him 9" Then, for he answer'd not, That Lancelot”—there he check'd himself and pansed. “Or hast thou other griefs ! If I, the Queen,
May help them, loose thy tongue, and let me know." Then fared it with Sir Pelleas as with one But Pelleas lifted up an eye so fierce Who gets a wound in battle, and the sword
She quail'd ; and he, hissing, "I have no sword," That made it plunges thro' the wound again, Sprang from the door into the dark. The Queen And pricks it deeper ; and he shrank and wail'd, Look'd hard upon her lover, he on her ; “Is the Queen false!" and Percivale was mute. And each foresaw the dolorous day to be: “Have any of our Round Table held their vows !" And all talk died, as in a grove all song And Percivale made answer not a word.
Beneath the shadow of some bird of prey; “Is the King true ?” “The King !” said Percivale. Then a long silence came upon the ball, “Why then let men couple at once with wolves. And Modred thought, “The time is hard at hand." What! art thou mad "
THE LAST TOURNAMENT.
But Pelleas, leaping up,
Not long thereafter from the city gates
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.”
« Danced like & wither'd leaf before the hall." “First over me," said Lancelot, “shalt thou pass." “Fight therefore,” yell'd the other, and either knight DAGONET, the fool, whom Gawain in his mood Drew back a space, and when they closed, at once Had made mock-knight of Arthur's Table Ronnd, The weary steed of Pelleas floundering flung At Camelot, high above the yellowing woods, His rider, who call'd out from the dark field, Danced like a wither'd leaf before the hall. “Thou art false as Hell: slay me: I have no sword.” And toward him from the hall, with harp in band, Then Lancelot, “Yea, between thy lips—and sharp; And from the crown thereof a carcanet But here will I disedge it by thy death.”
Of ruby swaying to and fro, the prize
or Tristram in the jousts of yesterday,
'Tell thou the King and all his liars, that I Came Tristram, saying, "Why skip ye so, Sir Fools' Have founded my Round Table in the North,
And whatsoever his own knights have sworn For Arthur and Sir Lancelot riding once
My knights have sworn the counter to itand say Far down beneath a winding wall of rock
My tower is full of harlots, like his court, Heard a child wail. A stump of oak half-dead, But mine are worthier, seeing they profess From roots like some black coil of carven snakes, To be none other than themselves-and say Clatch'd at the crag, and started thro' mid-air My knights are all adulterers like his own, Bearing an eagle's Dest: and thro’ the tree
But mine are truer, seeing they profess Rosh'd ever a rainy wind, and thro' the wind To be none other; and say his hour is come, Pierced ever a child's cry: and crag and tree The heathen are upon him, his long lance Scaling, Sir Lancelot from the perilous vest, Broken, and his Excalibur a straw.' This ruby necklace thrice around her neck, And all unscarr'd from beak or talon, brought Then Arthur turn'd to Kay, the seneschal, A maiden babe ; which Arthur pitying took, "Take thou my chur), and tend him curiously Then gave it to his Queen to rear: the Queen Like a king's heir, till all his hurts be whole. But coldly acquiescing, in her white arms
The heathen-but that ever-climbing wave, Received, and after loved it tenderly,
Hurl'd back again so often in empty foam, And named it Nestling; so forgot herself
Hath lain for years at rest—and renegades, A moment, and her cares; till that young life Thieves, bandits, leavings of confusion, whom Being smitten in mid-heaven with mortal cold The wholesome realm is purged of otherwhere, Past from her; and in time the carcanet
Friends, thro' your manhood and your fệalty-Uow Vext her with plaintive memories of the child : Make their last head like Satan in the North. So she, delivering it to Arthur, said,
My younger knights, vew-made, in whom your flower "Take thou the jewels of this dead innocence, Waits to be solid fruit of golden deeds, And make them, an thou wilt, a tourney-prize.". Move with me toward their quelling, which achieved,
The loneliest ways are safe from shore to shore. To whom the King, “Pence to thine eagle-borne But thou, Sir Lancelot, sitting in my place Dead nestling, and this honor after death,
Enchair'd to-morrow, arbitrate the field ; Following thy will ! but, O my Queen, I muse For wherefore shouldst thou care to mingle with it, Why ye not wear on arm, or neck, or zone
Only to yield my Queen her own again ? Those diamonds that I rescued from the tarn, Speak, Lancelot, thou art silent: is it well ?" And Lancelot won, methought, for thee to wear.”
Thereto Sir Lancelot answer'd, "It is well:
Else, for the King has will'd it, it is well."
Then Arthur rose and Lancelot follow'd him, Above the river-that unhappy child
And while they stood without the doors, the King Past in her barge: but rosier luck will go
Turu'd to him saying, "Is it then so well ? With these rich jewels, seeing that they came Or mine the blame that oft I seem as he Not from the skeleton of a brother-slayer,
of whom was written, 'A sound is in his ears ?' Bat the sweet body of a maiden babe.
The foot that loiters, bidden go-the glance Perchance-who knows ?-the purest of thy knights That only seems half-loyal to commandMay win them for the purest of my maids."
A manner somewhat fall'n from reverence
Or have I dream'd the bearing of our knights She ended, and the cry of a great joust
Tells of a manhood ever less and lower ? With trumpet-blowings ran on all the ways
0; whence the fear lest this my realm, upreard, From Camelot in among the faded fields
By noble deeds at one with noble vows, To furthest towers; and everywhere the kuights From flat confusion and brute violences, Arm'd for a day of glory before the King.
Reel back into the beast, and be no more ?"
But on the hither side of that lond morn
He spoke, and taking all his younger knights, Into the hall stagger'd, his visage ribb'd
Down the slope city rode, and sharply turn'd From ear to ear with dogwhip-weals, his nose North by the gate. In her high bower the Queen, Bridge-broken, one eye out, and one hand off, Working a tapestry, lifted up her head, And one with shatter'd fingers dangling lame, Watch'd her lord pass, and knew not that she sigh'd, A churl, to whom indignantly the King,
Then ran across her memory the strange rhyme
Of bygone Merlin, “Where is he who knows? "My charl, for whom Christ died, what evil beast From the great deep to the great deep he goes." Hath drawn his claws athwart thy face? or fiend ? Man was it who marr'd heaven's image in thee thus ?” But when the morning of a tournament,
By these in earnest those in mockery callid Then, sputtering thro' the hedge of splinter'd teeth, The Tournament of the Dead Innocence, Yet strangers to the tongue, and with blunt stump Brake with a wet wind blowing, Lancelot, Pitch-blacken'd sawing the air, said the maim'd churl, Round whose sick head all night, like birds of prey,
The words of Arthur flying shriek’d, arose, "He took them aud he drave them to his tower— And down a streetway hung with folds of pure Some hold he was a table-kuight of thine
White samite, and by fountains running wine, A hundred goodly ones—the Red Knight, he- Where children sat in white with cups of gold, Lord, I was tending swine, and the Red Knight Moved to the lists, and there, with slow sad steps Brake in upon me and drave them to his tower; Ascending, fill'a bis double-dragon'd chair. And when I call'd upon thy name as one That doest right by gentle and by churl,
He glanced and saw the stately galleries, Maim'd me and maul'd, and would outright have Dame, damsel, each thro' worship of their Queen slain,
White-robed in honor of the stainless child, Save that he sware me to a message, saying, And some with scatter'd jewels, like a bauk