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of maiden snow mingled with sparks of fire. Would make the world as blank as Winter-tide. He look'd but once, aud veil'd his eyes again. Come_let us gladden their sad eyes, our Queen's
And Laucelot's, at this night's solemvity
So da ne and damsel glitter'd at the feast
Falls on the mountain in midsummer snows, Who sits and gazes on a faded tire,
And all the parple slopes of mountain flowers When all the goodlier guests are past away, Pass under white, till the warm hour returns Sat their great umpire, looking o'er the lists. With veer of wind, and all are flowers agaiu ; He saw the laws that ruled the tournament So dame and damsel cast the simple white, Broken, but spake not; once, a kpight cast down And glowing in all colors, the live grass, Before his throne of arbitration cursed
Ruse-campion, blue-bell, kingcup, poppy, glanced The dead babe and the fullies of the King:
About the revels, and with mirth so loud And once the laces of a helmet crack’d,
Beyond all use, that, half-amazed, the Queen, And show'd him, like a vermin in its hole,
And wroth at Tristrani and the lawless jousts, Modred, a varrow face: anon he heard
Bruke up their sports, then slowly to her bower The voice that billow'd round the barriers roar Parted, and in her bosom pain was lord. Au ocean-sounding welcome to one koight, But newly enter'd, taller than the rest,
And little Dagonet on the morrow morn, And armor'd all in forest green, whereon
High over all the yellowing Autumu-tide, There tript a hundred tiny silver deer,
Dauced like a witber'd leaf before the hall. And wearing but a holly spray for crest,
Then Tristram saying, "Why skip ye so, Sir Fool? With ever-scattering berries, and on shield
Wheeld round on either heel, Dagovet replied, A spear, a harp, a bngle-Tristram-late
"Belike for lack of wiser company; From overseas in Brittany returu'd,
Or being fool, and seeing too much wit And marriage with a princess of that realm, Makes the world rotten, why, belike I skip Isolt the White-Sir Tristram of the Woods- To kuow myself the wisest knight of all." Whom Lancelot knew, had held sometime with pain “Ay, fool," said Tristram, “but 'tis eating dry His own against him, and now yearp'd to shake To dance without a catch, a roundelay The burthen off his heart in one fall shock
To dance to.” Then he twangled on his harp, With Tristram ev'n to death: his strong hands gript And while he twangled little Dagonet stood, And dinted the gilt dragons right and left,
Quiet as any water-sodden log Until he ground for wrath-80 many of those, Stay'd in the wandering warble of a brook ; That ware their ladies' colors on the casque, But when the iwanglivg evded, skipt again ; Drew from before Sir Tristram to the bounds, And being ask'd, “Why skipt ye not, Sir Fool ?" And there with gibes and flickering mockeries Made answer, “I had liefer twenty years Stood, while he matter'd, “Craven crests ! O shame! Skip to the broken music of my brains What faith bave these in whom they sware to love! Than any broken music thou canst make.” The glory of oar Round Table is no more." Then Tristram, waiting for the quip to come,
"Good now, what music have I broken, fvol " So Tristram won, and Lancelot gave, the gems, And little Dagonet, skipping, “Arthur, the King's ; Not speaking other word than "Hast thou wou ? Fur when thou playest that air with Queen Isult, Art thou the purest, brother ? See, the hand Thou makest broken music with thy bride, Wherewith thou takest this, is red !" to whom Her daintier namesake down in BrittanyTristram, half plagued by Lancelot's languorous And so thou breakest Arthur's music too." mood,
"Save for that broken music in thy brains, Made answer, " Ay, but wherefore toss me this Sir Fool," said Tristram, “I would break thy head. Like a dry bone cast to some hungry hound? Fool, I came late, the heathen wars were o'er, Let be thy fair Queen’s fantasy. Strength of heart The life had flown, we sware but by the shellAnd might of limb, but mainly use and skill, I am but a fool to reason with a foolAre winners in this pastime of our King.
Come, thou art crabb'd and sour; but lean me down, My hand-belike the lance bath dript upon it- Sir Dagonet, one of thy long asses' ears, No blood of mine, I trow; but, О chief knight, And hearken if my music be not true. Right arm of Arthur in the battlefield, Great brother, thou nor I have made the world ; "* Free love-free field--we love but while we may: Be happy in thy fair Queen as I in mine."
The woods are hush'd, their music is no more :
The leaf is dead, the yearning past away: And Tristram round the gallery made his horse New leaf, new life-the days of frost are o'er : Caracole ; then bow'd his homage, bluntly saying, New life, new love, to suit the newer day: “Fair damsels, each to him who worships each New loves are sweet as those that went before : Sole Queen of Beauty and of love, behold
Free love-free field-we love but while we may.' This day my Queen of Beauty is not here." And most of these were mute, some anger'd, one “Ye might have moved slow-measure to my tube Murmuring, "All courtesy is dead," and one, Not stood stockstill. I made it in the woods, “The glory of our Round Table is no more." And heard it ring as true as tested gold."
Then fell thick rain, plume droopt and mantle
But Dagonet, with one foot poised in his hand,
Lent to the King, and Innocence the King
“And whither harp'st thou thine? down! and thrGave for a prize—and one of those white slips
self Handed her cnp and piped, the pretty one,
Down! and two more: a helpful harper thon, "Drink, drink, Sir Fool,' and thereupon I drank, That harpest downward! Dost thou know the star Spat-pish—the cup was gold, the draught was mud.” We call the harp of Arthur up in heaven ?"
And Tristram, "Was it mnddier than thy gibes ? Aud Tristram, “Ay, Sir Fool, for when our King Is all the langhter gove dead out of thee?
Was victor wellnigh day by day, the knights,
Fear God: honor the King—his one true knight- High on all hills, and in the signs of heaven.”
And Dagonet answer’d, “Ay, and when the land
To babble about him, all to show your wit It frighted all free fool from out thy heart;
And whether he were King by courtesy, Which left thee less than fool, and less than swine, Or King by right—and so went harping down A naked anght-yet swine I hold thee still, The black king's highway, got so far, and grew For I have fluvg thee pearls and find thee swine." So witty that ye play'd at ducks and drakes
With Arthur's vows on the great lake of fire. And little Dagonet mincing with his feet,
Tuwhoo! do you see it? do you see the star ?" Knight, an ve fling those rubies round my neck In lieu of hers, I'll hold thou hast some touch “Nay, fool," said Tristram, "not in open day.” Of music, since I care not for thy pearls.
And Dagonet, “Nay, nor will: I see it and hear. Swine! I have wallow'd, I have wash'd—the world It makes a silent music up in heaven, Is flesh and shadow-I have had my day.
And I, and Arthur and the angels hear, The dirty purse, Experience, in her kind
And then we skip." "Lo, fool," he said, “ye talk Hath fould me—an I wallow'd, then I wash'd- Fool's treason: is the King thy brother fool !" I have bad my day and my philosophies
Theu little Dagonet clapt his hands and shrillid, And thank the Lord I am King Arthur's fool. “Ay, ay, my brother fool, the king of fools ! Swine, say ye? swine, goats, asses, rams, and geese Conceits himself as God that he can make Troop'd round a Paynim harper once, who thrumm'd Figs out of thistles, silk from bristles, milk On such a wire as musically as thou
From burning spurge, honey from hornet-combs, Some such fine song-but never a king's fool." And men from beasts-Long live the king of fools!"
And Tristram, “Then were swine, goats, asses,
Then Dagonet, turning on the ball of his foot,
And down the city Dagonet danced away;
Made dull his inner, keen his outer eye
Au ever upward-rushing storm and cloud For all that walk'd, or crept, or perch'd, or flew. of shriek and plume, the Red Knight heard, and all, Anon the face, as, when a gust bath blown,
Even to tipmost lance and topmost helm, Unruffling waters re-collect the shape
In blood-red armor sallying, howlid to the King, of one that in them sees himself, return'd; But at the slot or fewmets of a deer,
“The teeth of hell flay bare and gnash thee flat! Or ev'u a fall'n feather, vanish'd again.
Lo! art thou not that eunuch-hearted King
Who fain had clipt free manhood from the worldSo on for all that day from lawn to lawn
The woman-worshiper ? Yea, Gud's curse, and I! Thro' many a league-long bower he rode. At length Slain was the brother of my paramour A lodge of intertwisted beechen-boughs
By a knight of thine, and I that heard her whine Farze-crammid, and bracked-rooft, the which himself and snivel, being eunuch-hearted too, Built for a summer day with Queen Isolt
Sware by the scorpion-worm that twists in hell, Against a shower, dark in the golden grove And stiugs itself to everlasting death, Appearing, sent his fancy back to where
To bang whatever knight of thine I fought She lived a moon in that low lodge with him : And tumbled. Art thon King ?-Look to thy life! Till Mark her lord had past, the Cornish king, With six or seven, when Tristram was away,
He ended : Arthur knew the voice; the face And snatch'd her thence; yet dreading worse than Wellnigh was helmet-hidden, and the name shame
Went wandering somewhere darkling in his miud. Her warrior Tristram, spake not any word,
And Arthur deigo'd not use of word or sword, But bode his hour, devising wretchedness.
But let the drunkard, as he stretch'd from horse
To strike him, overbalancing his bulk, And now that desert lodge to Tristram lookt Down from the causeway heavily to the swamp So sweet, that balting, iu he past, and sank Fall, as the crest of some slow-arching wave, Down on a drift of foliage random-blown;
Heard in dead night along that table-shore, But could not rest for musing how to smoothe Drops flat, and after the great waters break Aud sleek his marriage over to the Queen.
Whitening for half a league, and thin themselves, Perchance in lone Tintagil far from all
Far over sands marbled with moon and cloud, The tonguesters of the court she had not heard. From less and less to nothing; thus he fell But then what folly had sent him overseas
Head - heavy; then the knights, who watch'd him, After she left him lonely here? a name?
roar'd Was it the name of one in Brittany,
And shouted and leapt down upon the fall’n ; Isolt, the daughter of the King!“Isolt
There trampled out his face from being known, of the white hands" they call'd her: the sweet name And sank his head in mire, and slimed themselves : Allured him first, and then the maid herself, Nor heard the King for their own cries, but sprang Who served him well with those white hands of hers, Thro' open doors, and swording right and left And loved him well, until himself had thought Men, women, on their sodden faces, burl'd He loved her also, wedded easily,
The tables over and the wines, and slew But left her all as easily, and return'd.
Till all the rafters rang with woman-yells, The black-blue Irish hair and Irish eyes
And all the pavement stream'd with massacre: Had drawn him home_what marvel? then he laid Then, yell with yell echoing, they fired the tower, His brows upon the drifted leaf and dream'd. Which half that autumn night, like the live North,
Red-pulsing up thro' Alioth and Alcor, He seem'd to pace the strand of Brittany
Made all above it, and a hundred meres Between Isolt of Britain and his bride,
About it, as the water Moab saw
So all the ways were safe from shore to shore,
Then, out of Tristram waking, the red dream Follow'd a rush of eagle's wings, and then
Fled with a shout, and that low lodge return'd, A whimpering of the spirit of the child,
Mid-forest, and the wind among the boughs. Because the twain had spoilt her carcanet.
He whistled his good warhorse left to graze
Among the forest greens, vaulted upon him, He dream'd; but Arthur with a hundred spears And rode beneath an ever-showering leaf, Rode far, till o'er the illimitable reed,
Till one lone woman, weeping near a cross, And many a glancing plash and sallowy isle, Stay'd him. “Why weep ye?" "Lord,” she said, The wide-wing'd sunset of the misty marsh
"my man Glared on a huge machicolated tower
Hath left me or is dead;" whereon he thoughtThat stood with open doors, whereout was roll'd “What, if she hate me now? I would not this. A roar of riot, as from men secure
What, if she love me still? I would not that. Amid their marshes, ruffiaus at their ease
I know not what I would "_but said to her, Among their harlot-brides, an evil song.
"Yet weep not thou, lest, if thy mate return, "Lo there," said one of Arthur's youth, for there, He find thy favor changed and love thee not"High on a grim dead tree before the tower, Then pressing day by day thro' Lyonnesse A goodly brother of the Table Round
Last in a rocky hollow, belling, heard Swung by the neck: and on the boughs a shield The honnds of Mark, and felt the goodly hounds Showing a shower of blood in a field noir,
Yelp at his heart, but turning, past and gain'd
A crown of towers.
Down in a casement sat,
And glossy-throated grace, Isolt the Queen.
And when she heard the feet of Tristram grind And, saddening on the sudden, spake Isolt,
Here in the never-ended afternoon,
Deeper than any yearnings after thee Catlike thro' his own castle steals my Mark, Seem'd those far-rolling, westward-smiling seas, But warrior-wise thou stridest thro' his halls
Watch'd from this tower. Isolt of Britain dash'd Who hates thee, as I him-ev'n to the death. Before Isolt of Brittany on the strand, My soul, I felt my hatred for my Mark
Would that have chill'd her bride-kies? Wedded Quicken within me, and knew that thon wert nigh.” her ? To whom Sir Tristram smiling, "I am here. Fought in her father's battles ? wounded there? Let be thy Mark, seeing he is not thine."
The King was all fulfill'd with gratefulness,
And she, my namesake of the hands, that beald And drawing somewhat backward, she replied, Thy hart and heart with unguent and caress"Can be be wrong'd who is not ev’n his own, Well-can I wish her any huger wrong But save for dread of thee had beaten me,
Than having known thee! Her too hast thon left Scratch'd, bitten, blinded, marrd me somehow- To piue and waste in those sweet memories. Mark?
Oh, were I not my Mark's, by whom all men What rights are his that dare pot strike for them ? Are noble, I should hate thee more thau love." Not lift a hand-not, tho' he found me thus ! But hearken ! have ye met him ? hence he went And Tristram, fondling her light hands, replied, To-day for three days' hunting--as he said
“Grace, Queen, for being loved : she loved me well. And so returns belike within an hour.
Did I love her the name at least I loved. Mark's way, my soul !-but eat not thou with Mark, Isolt 7-I fought his battles for Isolt! Because he hates thee even more than fears ; The night was dark; the true star set. Isolt ! Nor drink: and when thou passest any wood The name was ruler of the dark- Isolt? Close vizor, lest an arrow from the bush
Care not for her! patient, and prayerful, meek, Should leave me all alone with Mark and hell. Pale-blooded, she will yield herself to God.” My God, the measure of my hate for Mark Is as the measure of my love for thee.”
And Isolt answer'd, "Yea, and why not I!
Mine is the larger need, who am not meek, So, pluck'd one way by hate and one by love, Pale-blooded, prayerful. Let me tell thee now. Drain'd of her force, again she sat, and spake Here one black, mute midsummer night I sat, To Tristram, as he knelt before her, saying, Lonely, but musing on thee, wondering where, "O hunter, and 0 blower of the horn,
Murmuring a light song I had heard thee sing, Harper, and thou hast been a rover too,
And once or twice I spake thy name aloud. For, ere I mated with my shambling king, Then flash'd a levin-brand; and near me stood, Ye twain had fallen out about the bride
In fuming sulphur blue and green, a fiend of one-his name is out of me—the prize,
Mark's way to steal behind one in the darkIf prize she were—what marvel-she could see). For there was Mark: 'He has wedded her,' he said, Thine, frieud ; and ever since my craven seeks Not said, but hiss'd it: then this crown of towers To wreck thee villainously: but, O Sir Knight, So shook to such a roar of all the sky, What dame or damsel have ye kneel'd to last po! That here in atter dark I swoon'd away,
And woke again in utter dark, and cried, And Tristram, “Last to my Qneen Paramount, 'I will flee hence and give myself to God'Here now to my Queen Paramount of love And thou wert lying in thy new leman's arms." And loveliness—ay, lovelier than when first Her light feet fell on our rough Lyonnesse,
Then Tristram, ever dallying with her hand, Sailing from Ireland.”
"May God be with thee, sweet, when old and gray,
And past desire !" a saying that anger'd her. Softly laugh'd Isolt; "May God be with thee, sweet, when thou art old, "Flatter me not, for hath not our great Queen
Avd sweet no more to me! I need Him now. My dole of beauty trebled P" and he said,
For wben had Lancelot utter'd aught so gross "Her beanty is her beauty, and thine thine,
Evin to the swineherd's malkin in the mast!
Far other was the Tristram, Arthur's knight! Most gracious; but she, haughty, ev'n to him, But thou, thro' ever harrying thy wild beasts Lancelot; for I have seen him wan enow
Save that to touch a harp, tilt with a lance To make one doubt if ever the great Queen Becomes thee well-art grown wild beast thysell. Have yielded him her love."
How darest thou, if lover, push me even
In fancy from thy side, and set me far
To whom Isolt, In the gray distance, half a life away, "Ah, then, false hunter and false harper, thou Her to be loved no more? Unsay it, unswearWho breakest thro' the scruple of my bond,
Flatter me rather, seeing me so weak, Calling me thy white hind, and saying to me Broken with Mark and hate and solitude, That Guinevere had sinn'd against the highest, Thy marriage and mine own, that I should suck And I-misyoked with such a want of man- Lies like sweet wipes: lie to me: I believe. That I could hardly sin against the lowest." Will ye not lie ! not swear, as there ye koeel,
And solemnly as when ye sware to him, He answer'a, “O my soul, be comforted ! The map of men, our King-My God, the power If this be sweet, to sin in leading-striugs,
Was once in vows when men believed the King! If here be comfort, and if ours be sin,
They lied not then, who sware, and thro' their vows Crown'd warrant had we for the crowning sin The King prevailing made his realm :-I say, That made us happy: but how ye greet me-fear Swear to me thon wilt love me ev'n when old, And fault and doubt-no word of that fond tale- Gray-haird, and past desire, and in despair." Thy deep heart-yearnings, thy sweet memories Of Tristram in that year he was away."
Then Tristram, pacing moodlly up and down,
“Ay, ay, oh ay!" “Vows ! did you keep the vow you made to Mark Shaped as a dragon; he seem'd to me no man, More than I mine! Lied, say ye? Nay, but learnt, But Michaël trampling Satan ; so I sware, The vow that binds too strictly snaps itself- Being amazed : but this went by-The vows ! My knighthood taught me this-uy, being snapt- Oh ay-the wholesome madness of an hourWe run more counter to the conl thereof
They served their use, their time; for every knight Than had we never sworn. I swear no more. Believed himself a greater than himself, I swore to the great King, and am forsworn. And every follower eyed him as a God; For once-ev'n to the height-I honor'd him. Till he, being lifted up beyond himself, Man, is he man at all?' methought, when first Did mightier deeds than elsewise he had done, I rode from our rough Lyonnesse, and beheld And so the realm was made; but then their vowsThat victor of the Pagan throned in hall
First mainly thro' that sullying of our QueenHis hair, a sun that ray'd from off a brow
Began to gall the knighthood, asking whence Like hillsnow high in heaven, the steel-blue eyes, Had Arthur right to bind them to bimself? The golden beard that clothed his lips with light - Dropt down from heaven? wash'd up from out the Moreover, that weird legend of his birth,
deep ! With Merlin's mystic babble about his end
They fail'd to trace him thro' the flesh and blood Amazed me; then, his foot was on a stool
of our old kings: whence then a doubtful lord