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To bind them by inviolable vows,
Here ending, he moved toward her, and she said,
He that while she spake,
“I am thy fool, And out beyoud into the dream to come.”
And I shall never make thee smile again."
The stairway to the ball, and look'd and saw
The great Queen's bower was dark-about his feet With ments and wines, and satiated their hearts- A voice clung sobbing till he question'd it, Now talking of their woodland paradise,
"What art thou ?" and the voice about his feet The deer, the dews, the fern, the founts, the lawns ; Seut up an answer, sobbing, “I am thy fool, Now mocking at the much ungaivliness,
And I shall never make thee sinile again."
“Ay, ay, oh ay—the winds that bend the brier ! A star in heaven, a star within the mere !
QUEEN GUINEVERE had fled the court, and sat
Weeping, none with her save a little maid, And one will ever shine and one will pass.
A novice: one low light betwixt them burn'd Ay, ay, oh ay—the winds that move the mere." Blurr'd by the creeping mist, for all abroad,
Beneath a moon unseen albeit at full,
Clong to the dead earth, and the land was still. " The collar of some Order, which onr King Hath newly founded, all for thee, my soul,
For hither bad she fled, her cause of flight For thee, to yield thee grace beyoud thy peers.” Sir Modred; he that like a subtle beast
Lay conchant with his eyes upon the throne, “Not so, my Queen,” he said, " but the red fruit Ready to spring, waiting a chance : for this Grown on a magic oak-tree in mid-heaven,
He chilld the popular praises of the King And won by Tristram as a tourney-prize,
With silent smiles of slow disparagement;
To make disruption in the Table Round
For thos it chanced one morn when all the court, "Mark's way,” said Mark, and clove him thro' the Green-snited, but with plumes that mock'd the may, brain.
Had been, their wont, a-maying and return'd,
That Modred still in green, all ear and eye, That night came Arthur home, and while he Climb'd to the high top of the garden-wall climbid,
To spy some secret scandal if he might,
And saw the Queen who sat betwixt her best For testimony; and crying with full voice
"Traitor, come out, ye are trapt at last," aronsed
Leapt on him, and hurl'd him headlong, and he fell
And all was still: then she, “The end is come,
“Mine be the shame; mine was the siu: but riee, And cast him as a worm upon the way;
And fly to my strong castle overseas :
There hold thee with my life against the world."
She answer'd “Lancelot, wilt thou hold me so?
Mine is the shame, for I was wife, and thon
For I will draw me into sanctuary, And he was answer'd softly by the King
And bide my doom.” So Lancelot got her horse,
Set her thereon, and mounted on his own,
Love-loyal to the least wish of the Queen,
Back to his land; but she to Almesbury As the sharp wind that ruffles all day long
Fled all night long by glimmering waste and weald, A little bitter pool about a stone
And heard the Spirits of the waste and weald On the bare coast.
Moan as she fled, or thought she heard them moan:
And in herself she moan'd "Too late, too late !"
Croak'd, and she thought, “He spies a field of
Begin to slay the folk, and spoil the land.”
And when she came to Almesbury she spake
There to the nuns, and said, "Mine enemies Or elsewhere, Modred's narrow foxy face,
Pursue me, but, О peaceful Sisterhood, Heart-hiding smile, aud gray persistent eye: Receive, and yield me sanctuary, nor ask Henceforward too, the Powers that tend the soul, Her name to whom ye yield it, till her time To help it from the death that cannot die,
To tell you:” and her beauty, grace, and power,
Wrought as a charm upon them, and they spared
So the stately Queen abode
For many a week, unknown, among the nuns ;
Wrapt in her grief, for housel or for sbrift,
But communed only with the little maid,
This night, a rumor wildly blown about
And leagued him with the heathen, while the King
Was waging war on Lancelot: then she thought,
Silent, until the little maid, who brook'd
Nor answer, by and by began to bum
An air the nuns had taught her: “Late, so late!" “O Lancelot, get thee hence to thine own land, Which when she heard, the Queen look'd up, and said, For if thou tarry we shall meet again ;
“O maiden, if indeed ye list to sing, And if we meet again, some evil chance
Sing, and unbind my heart that I may weep."
“Late, late, so late! and dark the night and chili
And learning this, the bridegroom will relent.
Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.
" Have we not heard the bridegroom is so sweet! Made answer, sounding like a distant horn, Oh, let us in, tho' late, to kiss his feet!
So said my father-yea, and furthermore, No, no, too late! ye cannot enter now."
Next morning, while he past the dim-lit woods,
Himself beheld three spirits mad with joy So sang the novice, while full passionately, Come dasbing down on a tall wayside tower, Her head upon her hands, remembering
That shouk beneath them, as the thistle shakes Her thought when first she came, wept the sad Queen. When three gray linnets wrangle for the seed: Then said the little novice, prattling to her, And still at evenings on before his horse
The flickering fairy-circle wheel'd and broke "Oh, pray you, noble lady, weep no more ; Flying, and link'd again, and wheeld aud bruke But let my words, the words of one so small, Flying, for all the land was full of life. Who knowing nothing kpows but to obey,
And when at last he came to Camelot, And if I do not there is penance given
A wreath of airy dancers hand-in-hand Comfort your sorrows; for they do not flow
Swung round the lighted lantern of the hall; From evil done; right sure am I of that,
Avd in the hall itself was such a feast Who see your tender grace and stateliness.
As never man had dream'd; for every knight But weigh your sorrows with our lord the King's, Had whatsoever meat he long'd for served And weighing find them less; for gone is be By hands unseen ; and even as he said To wage grim war against Sir Lancelot there, Down in the cellars merry bloated things Round that strong castle where he holds the Queen; Shoulder'd the spigot, straddling on the butts And Modred whom he left in charge of all,
While the wine rau : so glad were spirits and men The traitor-Ah! sweet lady, the King's grief Before the coming of the siuful Queen." For his own self, and his own Queen, and realm, Must needs be thrice as great as any of ours.
Then spake the Queen and somewhat bitterly, For me, I thank the saints, I am not great.
"Were they so glad ! ill prophets were they all, For if there ever come a grief to me
Spirits and men: could none of them foresee, I cry my cry in silence, and have done:
Not even thy wise father with his signs None knows it, and my tears have brought me good : And wonders, what has fallin upon the realm ?" Bat even were the griefs of little ones As great as those of great ones, yet this grief To whom the novice garrulously again, Is added to the griefs the great must bear,
“Yea, one, a bard; of whoin my father said, That howsoever much they may desire
Full many a noble war-song had he sung, Silence, they cannot weep behind a cloud:
Ev'n in the presence of an enemy's fleet, As even here they talk at Almesbury
Between the steep cliff and the coming wave; About the good King and his wicked Queen, And many a mystic lay of life and death And were I such a King with such a Queen, Had chanted on the smoky mountain-tops, Well might I wish to veil her wickedness ;
When round him bent the spirits of the hills But were I such a King, it could not be."
With all their dewy hair blown back like flame:
So said my father—and that night the bard Then to her own sad heart mutter'd the Queen, Sang Arthur's glorious wars, and sang the King “ Will the child kill me with her innocent talk " As wellvigh more than man, and rail'd at those But openly she answer'd, “Must not I,
Who call'd him the false son of Gorlois : If this false traitor have displaced his lord,
For there was no man knew from whence he came; Grieve with the common grief of all the realm ?" But after tempest, wheu the long wave broke
All down the thundering shores of Bude and Bos, “Yea,” said the maid, "this is all woman's grief, There came a day as still as heaven, and then That she is woman, whose disloyal life
They found a naked child upon the sands
And that his grave should be a mystery
From all men, like his birth; and could be find Then thought the Queen within herself again, A woman in her womanhood as great "Will the child kill me with her foolish prate ?" As he was in his mauhood, then, he sang, Bit openly she spake and said to her,
The twain together well might change the world. “O little maid, shut in by nunnery walls,
But even in the middle of his song What canst thou know of Kings and Tables Round, He falter'd, and his hand fell from the harp, Or what of signs and wonders, but the sigus Aud pale he turu'd, and reel'd, and would have And simple miracles of thy nunpery?"
But that they stay'd him up; nor would he tell To whom the little novice garrulously,
His vision ; but what donbt that he foresaw
Then thought the Queen, “Lor they have set her of the great Table-at the founding of it;
on, Aud rode thereto from Lyonnesse, and he said Our simple-seeming Abbess and her nuns, That as he rode, an hour or maybe twain
To play upou me," and bowed her head nor spake, After the sunset, down the coast, he heard
Whereat the novice crying, with clasp'd hauds, Strange music, and he paused, and turning—there, Shame on her own garrulity garrulously, All down the lonely coast of Lyonnesse,
Said the good nuns would check her gadding tongue Each with a beacon-star upon his head,
Full often, "and, sweet lady, if I seem And with a wild sea-light about his feet,
To vex an ear too sad to listen to me, He saw them--headland after headland flame Unmannerly, with prattling and the tales Far on into the rich heart of the west:
Which my good father told me, check me too: And in the light the white mermaiden swam, Nor let me shame my father's memory, one And strong man-breasted things stood from the sea, | Of noblest manners, tho' himself would say And sent a deep sea-voice thro' all the land, Sir Lancelot had the noblest; and he died, To which the little elves of chasm and cleft
Kill'd in a tilt, come next, five summers back,
And left me; but of others who remain,
Then Lancelot's needs must be a thousand-fuld And of the two first-famed for courtesy
Less poble, being, as all rumor runs, And pray you check me if I ask amiss
The most disloyal friend in all the world." But pray you, which had noblest, while you moved Among them, Lancelot, or our lord the King ?" To which a mournful answer made the Queen :
"Oh, closed about by narrowing nunnery-walls, Then the pale Queen look'd up and answer'd her, What knowest thou of the world, and all its light Sir Lancelot, as became a noble knight,
And shadows, all the wealth and all the woe!
“While he past the dim-lit wooda, Himself beheld three spirits mad with joy
Come dashing down on a tall wayside flower." Was gracious to all ladies, and the same
If ever Lancelot, that most noble knight, In open battle or the tilting-field
Were for one hour less noble than himself, Forbore his own advantage, and the King
Pray for him that he 'scape the doom of fire, Iu open battle or the tilting-field
And weep for her who drew him to his doom." Forbore his own advantage, and these two Were the most nobly-mannerd men of all ;
“ Yea," said the little vovice, "I pray for buth ; For manners are not idle, but the fruit
But I should all as soon believe that his, of loyal nature, and of noble mind."
Sir Lancelot's, were as noble as the King's,
As I could think, sweet lady, yours would be "Yea," said the maid, “be manners such fair fruit? | Such as they are, were you the sinful Queen."
So she, like many another babbler, hurt
Of heathen swarming o'er the Northern Sea ; Whom she would southe, and harm'd wbere she whom I, while yet Sir Lancelot, my right arm, would heal ;
The mightiest of my knights, abode with me, For bere a sudden flush of wrathful heat
Have everywhere about this land of Christ Fired all the pale face of the Queen, who cried, In twelve great battles ruining overthrown). "Sach as thou art be never maideu more
And knowest thou now from whence I come--from For ever! thou their tool, set on to plague
him, Aud play upon, and barry me, petty spy
From waging bitter war with him: and he, And traitress.” When that storm of anger brake That did not shan to smite me in worse way, From Guinevere, agbast the maiden rose,
Had yet that grace of courtesy in him left, White as her veil, avd stood before the Queen He spared to lift his hand against the King As tremulously as foam upon the beach
Who made him knight: but, many a kuigbt was Stauds in a wind, ready to break and fly,
slain ; And when the Queen had added “Get thee hence," And many more, and all his kith and kin Fled frighted. Then that other left alone
Clave to him, and abode in his own land. Sigb'd, and began to gather heart again,
And many more when Modred raised revolt, Saying in herself, “ The simple, fearful child
Forgetful of their troth and fealty, clave Meant nothing, but my own too-fearful guilt, To Modred, and a remnaut stays with me. Simpler than any child, betrays itself.
And of this remnant will I leave a part, But help me, heaven, for surely I repent.
True men who love me still, for whom I live, For what is trne repentance but iu thought- To gnard thee in the wild hour coming on, Not ev'n in inmost thought to thiuk again
Lest but a hair of this low head be harm'd. The sins that made the past so pleasant to us : Fear not: thou shalt be guarded till my death. And I have sworn never to see him more,
Howbeit I know, if ancient prophecies To see him more.”
Have err'd not, that I march to meet my doom. ,
Thou hast not made my life so sweet to me, And ev'n in saying this, That I the King should greatly care to live ; Her memory from old habit of the mind
For thou hast spoilt the purpose of my life. Weut slipping back upon the golden days
Bear with me for the last time while I show, In which she saw him first, when Lancelot came, Ev'n for thy sake, the sin which thou hast siun'd. Reputed the best kuight and goodliest man,
For when the Roman left us, and their law Ambassador, to lead her to his lord
Relax'd its hold upon us, and the ways Arthur, and led her forth, and far ahead
Were fill'd with rapine, here and there a deed or his and her retinue moving, they,
of prowess done redress'd a random wrong. Rapt in sweet talk or lively, all ou love
But I was first of all the kings who drew And sport and tilts and pleasure (for the time The knighthood-errant of this realm and all Was Maytime, and as yet no sin was dream'd),
The realms together under me, their Head, Rode under groves that look'd a paradise
In that fair Order of my Table Round, Of blossom, over sheets of hyacinth
A glorious company, the flower of men, That seem'd the heavens upbreaking thro' the earth, To serve as model for the mighty world, And on from hill to hill, and every day
Aud be the fair beginning of a time. Beheld at noon in some delicious dale
I made them lay their hands in mine and swear The silk pavilions of King Arthur raised
To reverence the King, as if he were For brief repast or afteruoon repose
Their conscience, and their conscience as their King, By couriers gove before; and on again,
To break the heathen and uphold the Christ, Till yet once more ere set of sun they saw
To ride abrond redressing human wrongs, The Dragon of the great Pendragonship,
To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it, That crown'd the state pavilion of the King, To hovor his own word as if his God's, Blaze by the rushing brook or silent well.
To lead sweet lives in purest chastity,
To love one maiden only, cleave to her, But when the Qneen immersed in such a trance, And worship her by years of noble deeds, And moving thro' the past uuconsciously,
Until they won her; for indeed I kuew Came to that point where first she saw the King
Of no more subtle master uurler heaven Ride toward her from the city, sigh'd to find Than is the maiden passion for a mail, Her journey done, glanced at him, thought him cold, Not only to keep down the base in man, High, self-contaiv’d, and passionless, not like him, But teach high thonght, and amiable words “Not like my Lancelot"-while she brooded thus And courtliness, and the desire of fame, And grew half-guilty in her thoughts again,
And love of truth, and all that makes a man. There rode av armed warrior to the doors.
And all this throve before I wedded thee,
Then came thy shameful sin with La lot;
Then came the sin of Tristram and Isolt; Rang coming, prone from off her seat she fell, Then others, following these my mightiest knighis, And grovellid with her face against the floor : And drawing foul ensample from fair names, There with her milkwhite arms and shadowy hair Sinn'd also, till the loathsome opposite She made her face a darkness from the King: Of all my heart had destined did obtain, And in the darkness heard his armed feet
And all thro' thee! so that this life of mine Pause by her; then came silence, then a voice, I guard as God's high gist from scathe and wrong, Monotonous and hollow like a ghost's
Not greatly care to lose ; but rather think Denouncing judgment, but tho' changed, the King's: How sad it were for Arthur, should he live,
To sit once more within his lonely hall, “Liest thou here so low, the child of one
And miss the wonted number of my knights, I honor'd, happy, dead before thy shame?
And miss to hear high talk of noble deeds Well is it that no child is born of thee.
As iv the golden days before thy sin. The children born of thee are sword and fire, For which of us, who might be left, conld speak Red ruin, and the breaking-up of laws,
of the pure heart, nor seem to glance at thee? The craft of kindred and the godless hosts
And in thy bowers of Camelot or of Usk