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Imagine (but ye Saints! who can ?)
How in still air the balance trembled—
The wishes, peradventure the despites
That overcame some not ungenerous Knights;
And all the thoughts that lengthened out a
span 281

Of time to Lords and Ladies thus assembled.

What patient confidence was here!
And there how many bosoms panted!
While drawing toward the car Sir Gawaine,

mailed 285

For tournament, his beaver vailed,
And softly touched; but, to his princely

cheer
And high expectancy, no sign was granted.

Next, disencumbered of his harp,

Sir Tristram, dear to thousands as a brother,

Came to the proof, nor grieved that there

ensued 291

No change;—the fair Izonda he had wooed With love too true, a love with pangs too

sharp, From hope too distant, not to dread another.

Not so Sir Launcelot;—from Heaven's grace A sign he craved, tired slave of vain contrition; The royal Guinever looked passing glad 297 When his touch failed.—Next came Sir

Galahad; He paused, and stood entranced by that still

face Whose features he had seen in noontide vision.

For late, as near a murmuring stream 301 He rested 'mid an arbour green and shady, Nina, the good Enchantress, shed

A light around his mossy bed;
And, at her call, a waking dream 305

Prefigured to his sense the Egyptian Lady.

Now, while his bright-haired front he bowed, And stood, far-kenned by mantle furred with

ermine,
As o'er the insensate Body hung
The enrapt, the beautiful, the young, 310
Belief sank deep into the crowd
That he the solemn issue would determine.

Nor deem it strange; the Youth had worn
That very mantle on a day of glory,
The day when he achieved that matchless feat,
The marvel of the Perilous Seat, 316

Which whosoe'er approached of strength was

shorn, Though King or Knight the most renowned in

story.

He touched with hesitating hand—

And lo! those Birds, far-famed through

Love's dominions, 310

The Swans, in triumph clap their wings; And their necks play, involved in rings, Like sinless snakes in Eden's happy land;— "Mine is she," cried the Knight;—again they

clapped their pinions.

"Mine was she—mine she is, though dead, And to her name my soul shall cleave in

sorrow;" 316

Whereat a tender twilight streak

Of colour dawned upon the Damsel's cheek;

And her lips, quickening with uncertain red,

Seemed from each other a faint warmth to

borrow. 330

Deep was the awe, the rapture high,
Of love emboldened, hope with dread en-
twining,
When, to the mouth, relenting Death
Allowed a soft and flower-like breath,
Precursor to a timid sigh, 335

To lifted eyelids, and a doubtful shining.

In silence did King Arthur gaze
Upon the signs that pass away or tarry;
In silence watched the gentle strife
Of Nature leading back to life; 340

Then eased his soul at length by praise Of God, and Heaven's pure Queen—the blissful Mary.

Then said he, "Take her to thy heart,
Sir Galahad! a treasure, that God giveth,
Bound by indissoluble ties to thee 345

Through mortal change and immortality;
Be happy and unenvied, thou who art
A goodly Knight that hath no peer that liveth!"

Not long the Nuptials were delayed;
And sage tradition still rehearses 350

The pomp, the glory of that hour
When toward the altar from her bower
King Arthur led the Egyptian Maid,
And Angels carolled these far-echoed verses;—

Who shrinks not from alliance 355

Of evil with good Powers
To God proclaims defiance,
And mocks whom he adores.

A Ship to Christ devoted

From the Land of Nile did go; 360

Alas! the bright Ship floated,

An Idol at her prow.

By magic domination,

The Heaven-permitted vent

Of purblind mortal passion, 365

Was wrought her punishment.

The Flower, the Form Within it,

What served they in her need?

Her port she could not win it,

Nor from mishap be freed. 370

The tempest overcame her,
And she was seen no more;
But gently, gently blame her—
She cast a Pearl ashore.

The Maid to Jesu heartened, 375

And kept to Him her faith,
Till sense in death was darkened,
Or sleep akin to death.

But Angels round her pillow

Kept watch, a viewless band; 380

And, billow favouring billow,

She reached the destined strand.

Blest Pair! whate'er befall you,
Your faith in Him approve
Who from frail earth can call you 385
To bowers of endless love!

1830.

THE RIVER DUDDON.

A SERIES OF SONNETS.

The River Duddon rises upon Wrynose Fell, on the confines of Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Lancashire ; and, having served as a boundary to the two last Counties for the space of about twenty-five miles, enters the Irish Sea, between the Isle of Walney and the Lordship of Milium.

TO THE REV. DR. WORDSWORTH

(WITH THE SONNETS TO THE EIVER DUDDON, AND OTHER POEMS IN THIS COLLECTION, 1820.)

The Minstrels played their Christmas tune

To-night beneath my cottage-eaves;

While, smitten by a lofty moon,

The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,

Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen, 5

That overpowered their natural green.

Through hill and valley every breeze

Had sunk to rest with folded wings:

Keen was the air, but could not freeze,

Nor check, the music of the strings; 10

So stout and hardy were the band

That scraped the chords with strenuous hand!

And who but listened ?—till was paid

Respect to every Inmate's claim:

The greeting given, the music played, 15

In honour of each household name,

Duly pronounced with lusty call,

And " Merry Christmas " wished to all!

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