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Chafferings and chatterings at the mar.

ket-cross, Rejoice, small man, in this small world

of mine, Yea, even in their hens and in their

eggsO brother, saving this Sir Galahad, Came ye on none but phantoms in your

quest, No man, no woman?'


Down on the waste, and straight beyond

the star I saw the spiritual city and all her spires And gateways in a glory like one pearl No larger, tho' the goal of all the saints – Strike from the sea; and from the star

there shot A rose-red sparkle to the city, and there Dwelt, and I knew it was the Holy Grail, Which never eyes on earth again shall Then fell the floods of heaven drowning

the deep. And how my feet recrost the deathful

ridge No memory in me lives; but that I

touch'd The chapel-doors at dawn I know; and

thence Taking my war-horse from the holy

man, Glad that no phantom vext me more,

return'd To whence I came, the gate of Arthur's


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And meagre, and the vision had not

come; And then I chanced upon a goodly town With one great dwelling in the middle

of it; Thither I made, and there was I disarm'd By maidens each as fair as any fower : But when they led me into hall, behold, The Princess of that castle was the one, Brother, and that one only, who had ever Made my heart leap; for when I moved

of old A slender page about her father's hall, And she a slender maiden, all my heart Went after her with longing: yet we

twain Had never kiss'd a kiss, or vow'd a vow. And now I came upon her once again, And one had wedded her, and he was

dead, And all his land and wealth and state

were hers. And while I tarried, every day she set A banquet richer than the day before By me; for all her longing and her will Was toward me as of old; till one fair

morn, I walking to and fro beside a stream That flash'd across her orchard under.



Her castle-walls, she stole upon my walk, And calling me the greatest of all knights, Embraced me, and so kiss'd me the first

time, And gave herself and all her wealth to Then I remember'd Arthur's warning

word, That most of us would follow wandering

fires, And the Quest faded in my heart. Anon, The heads of all her people drew to me, With supplication both of knees and

tongue : “ We have heard of thee: thou art our

greatest knight, Our Lady says it, and we well believe: Wed thou our Lady, and rule over us, And thou shalt be as Arthur in our land.” O me, my brother! but one night my

Ah, blessed Lord, I speak too earthly.

wise, Seeing I never stray'd beyond the cell, But live like an old badger in his earth, With earth about him everywhere, despite All fast and penance. Saw ye none be

side, None of your knights?'

• Yea so,' said Percivale: • One night my pathway swerving east,

I saw The pelican on the casque of our Sir Bors All in the middle of the rising moon: And toward him spurr’d, and hail'd him,

and he me, And each made joy of either; then he

ask'd, “ Where is he? hast thou seen him

Lancelot? - Once," Said good Sir Bors," he dash'd across

- mad, And maddening what he rode: and when

I cried, • Ridest thou then so hotly on a quest So holy,' Lancelot shouted, “Stay me not! I have been the sluggard, and I ride

apace, For now there is a lion in the way.' So vanish'd.”



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“Then Sir Bors had ridden on Softly, and sorrowing for our Lancelot, Because his former madness, once the

talk And scandal of our table, had return'd; For Lancelot's kith and kin so worship

him That ill to him is ill to them; to Bors Beyond the rest: he well had been con

tent Not to have seen, so Lancelot might The Holy Cup of healing; and, indeed. Being so clouded with his grief and love, Small heart was his after the Holy Quest : If God would send the vision, well: if not, The Quest and he were in the hands of


My cold heart with a friend: but ( the

pity To find thine own first love once more —

to hold, Hold her a wealthy bride within thine

arms, Or all but hold, and then cast her

aside, Foregoing all her sweetness, like a weed. For we that want the warmth of double

life, We that are plagued with dreams of

something sweet Beyond all sweetness in a life so rich,

have seen,

* And then, with small adventure met,

Sir Bors Rode to the lonest tract of all the realm,

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To whom the inonk: 'And I remember

now That pelican on the casque: Sir Bors it



Whereby the blood beats, and the blossom

blows, And the sea rolls, and all the world is

warm’d?" And when his answer chafed them, the

rough crowd, Hearing he had a difference with their

priests, Seized him, and bound and plunged him

into a cell Of great piled stones; and lying bounden

there In darkness thro' innumerable hours He heard the hollow-ringing heavens

sweep Over him till by miracle — what else? Heavy as it was, a great stone slipt and

fell, Such as no wind could move: and thro'

Who spake so low and sadly at our

board; And mighty reverent at our grace was he: A square-set man and honest; and his

eyes, An out-door sign of all the warmth within, Smiled with his lips — a smile beneath a

cloud, But heaven had meant it for a sunny one: Ay, ay, Sir Bors, who else? But when

ye reach'd The city, found ye all your knights re

turn'd, Or was there sooth in Arthur's prophecy, Tell me, and what said each, and what

the King?'

the gap

Glimmer'd the streaming scud: then

came a night Still as the day was loud; and thro' the

gap The seven clear stars of Arthur's Table

Round For, brother, so one night, because they

roll Thro’ such a round in heaven, we named

the stars, Rejoicing in ourselves and in our King And these, like bright eyes of familiar

friends, In on him shone: “And then to me, to

me,” Said good Sir Bors, “beyond all hopes

of mine,

Then answer'd Percivale : 'And that

can I, Brother, and truly; since the living

words Of so great men as Lancelot and our

King Pass not from door to door and out

again, But sit within the house. O, when we

reach'd The city, our horses stumbling as they

trode On heaps of ruin, hornless unicorns, Crack'd basilisks, and splinter'd cocka

trices, And shatter'd talbots, which had left the

stones Raw, that they fell from, brought us to

the hall.


* And there sat Arthur on the daïs

throne, And those that had gone out upon the

Quest, Wasted and worn, and but a tithe of

them, And those that had not, stood before the

King, Who, when he saw me, rose, and bade me

hail, Saying, “ A welfare in thine eye reproves Our fear of some disastrous chance for

thee On hill, or plain, at sea, or flooding

ford. So fierce a gale made havoc here of late Among the strange devices of our kings; Yea, shook this newer, stronger hall of

ours, And from the statue Merlin moulded for

• He ceased; and Arthur turn'd to

whom at first He saw not, for Sir Bors, on entering,

push'd Athwart the throng to Lancelot, caught

his hand, Held it, and there, half-hidden by him,

stood, Until the King espied him, saying to him, • Hail, Bors! if ever loyal man and true Could see it, thou hast seen the Grail;"

and Bors, “Ask me not, for I may not speak of it: I saw it;" and the tears were in his eyes.

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* Then there remain'd but Lancelot,

for the rest Spake but of sundry perils in the storm; Perhaps, like him of Cana in Holy Writ, Our Arthur kept his best until the last; “Thou, too, my Lancelot," ask'd the

King, friend, Our mightiest, hath this Quest avail'd for


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Half-wrench'd a golden wing; but now

the Quest, This vision — hast thou seen the Holy

Cup, That Joseph brought of old to Glaston


with a groan;



So when I told him all thyself hast

heard, Ambrosius, and my fresh but fixt resolve To pass away into the quiet life, He answer'd not, but, sharply turning,

ask'd Of Gawain, “Gawain, was this Quest for


Nay, lord,” said Gawain, “not for

such as I. Therefore I communed with a saintly

man, Who made me sure the Quest was not

“Our mightiest ! ” answer'd Lancelot, "O King!” -- and when he paused, me

thought I spied A dying fire of madness in his eyes — "O King, my friend, if friend of thine I

be, Happier are those that welter in their

sin, Swine in the mud, that cannot see for

slime, Slime of the ditch : but in me lived a sin So strange, of such a kind, that all of pure; Noble, and knightly in me twined and

clung Round that one sin, until the wholesome

flower And poisonous grew together, each as

each, Not to be pluck'd asunder; and when thy

knights Sware, I sware with them only in the

hope That could I touch or see the Holy Grail They might be pluck’l asunder. Then I

spake To one most holy saint, who wept and


for me;

For I was much awearied of the Quest :
But found a silk pavilion in a field,
And merry maidens in it; and then this

Tore my pavilion from the tenting-pin,
And blew my merry maidens all about
With all discomfort; yea, and but for

this, My twelvemonth and a day were pleasant

to me."

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That save they could be pluck'd asunder,

all My quest were but in vain; to whom I

vow'd That I would work according as he will’d. And forth I went, and while I yearn'd

and strove To tear the twain asunder in my heart, My madness came upon me as of old, And whipt me into waste fields far away; There was I beaten down by little men, Mean knights, to whom the moving of

my sword And shadow of my spear had been enow To scare them from me once; and then

I came All in my folly to the naked shore, Wide flats, where nothing but coarse

grasses grew; But such a blast, my King, began to blow, So loud a blast along the shore and sea, Ye could not hear the waters for the blast, Tho' heapt in mounds and ridges all the Drove like a cataract, and all the sand Swept like a river, and the clouded

heavens Were shaken with the motion and the

sound. And blackening in the sea-foam sway'd a

boat, Half-swallow'd in it, anchor'd with a

chain; And in my madness to myself I said, • I will embark and I will lose myself, And in the great sea wash away my

sin.' I burst the chain, I sprang into the boat. Seven days I drove along the dreary deep, And with me drove the moon and all the

stars; And he wind fell, and on the seventh

night I heard the shingle grinding in the surge, And felt the boat shock earth, and look



That kept the entry, and the moon was

full. Then from the boat I leapt, and up the

stairs. There drew my sword. With sudden

faring manes Those two great beasts rose upright like

a man, Each gript a shoulder, and I stood

between; And, when I would have smitten them,

heard a voice, * Doubt not, go forward; if thou doubt,

the beasts Will tear thee piecemeal.' Then with

violence The sword was dash'd from out my hand,

and fell. And up into the sounding hall I past; But nothing in the sounding hall I saw, No bench nor table, painting on the wall Or shield of knight; only the rounded Thro' the tall oriel on the rolling sea. But always in the quiet house I heard, Clear as a lark, hign o'er me as a lark, A sweet voice singing in the topmost

tower To the eastward: up I climb'd a thousand

step3 With pain : as in a dream I seem'd to

climb For ever: at the last I reach'd a door, A light was in the crannies, and I heard, “Glory and joy and honour to our Lord And to the Holy Vessel of the Grail.' Then in my madness I essay'd the door; It gave; and thro' a stormy glare, a heat As from a seventimes-heated furnace, I, Blasted and burnt, and blinded as I was, With such a fierceness that I swoon'd

away O, yet methought I saw the Holy Grail, All pall’l in crimson samite, and around Great angels, awful shapes, and wings

and eyes. And but for all my madness and my sin, And then my swooning, I had sworn I

ing up,


Behold, the enchanted towers of Car.

That which I saw; but what I saw was

veil'a And cover'd; and this Quest was not for

A castle like a rock upon a rock,
With chasm-like portals open to the sea,
And steps that met the breaker! there

was none
Stood near it but a lion on each side


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